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News release - Issued by Black Swan Hotel Helmsley

Alan O’Kane Appointed as Head Chef

The Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley has announced the appointment of a new Head Chef, Alan O’Kane. Talented, creative, and highly accomplished, with many awards to his name, Alan brings a wealth of culinary experience and passion to the role.

Alan’s early career years were spent in London, initially at The Savoy, and later at The Capital, where his classical culinary skills were honed. He is very well known in his native North East, where he owned two businesses, The Angel of Corbridge, which was completely transformed during his 5 years there, as well as Sidney’s at Tynemouth. Subsequent roles at high calibre restaurants have included The Fisherman’s Lodge at Jesmond Dene, Wynyard Hall, Gilpin Lodge and Foxhills Country Club, Surrey.

Alan’s style of cooking and professional experience complements The Black Swan’s 3AA rosette restaurant, as he has achieved this same standard of excellence at Wynyard Hall and Gilpin Lodge. Other accolades include Michelin’s Bib gourmand at several establishments, Small North East Hotel of the Year (La Route Guide) and voted ‘Top Coastal Restaurant’ in The Times and The Observer two years running at Sidney’s.

Alan’s individual style is essentially Classical/Modern British; simplicity is key, a discerning choice of only a few sensational ingredients with bold flavour combinations.

With this style of cooking, attention to detail and quality is paramount. When sourcing suppliers, Alan’s passion for quality, local provenance along with a detailed knowledge of farming methods and artisan producers is evident.

When not working, shooting is one of Alan’s hobbies, so the move back to the North East and this hotel surrounded by some of the country’s finest moors is certainly a good move.

Naturally, there is an enthusiasm by the abundance of produce from field, farm and sea, available in North Yorkshire, ‘God’s pantry right on the doorstep’ he remarks.

Paul O’ Hanlon, Hotel General Manager, commented on Alan’s appointment:

"It’s fantastic having Alan on board – he’s already making his mark and we’re now in safe hands to take our dining experience at The Black Swan to even greater heights. Not only do we have a brilliant Chef, he’s so generous with his time and knowledge, sharing some of his top tips with the up and coming young talents in the kitchen, there’s a real buzz about the place!"

‘The Gallery’ restaurant welcomes diners, residents and non-residents alike, who can enjoy the ambience of the light and airy space with its stylish modern décor, adorned with one of the finest collections of original works of art in the area courtesy of the Helmsley Galleries.

For details of new menus in The Gallery restaurant and Tearooms, and this season’s dining events please visit our website.

Call 01439 770466

Winner of White Rose Awards “Large Hotel of the Year, 2015”
Winner of “Hotel of the Year” in Visit York’s Annual Tourism Awards, 2015
Winner of “Hotel of the Year” in Yorkshire Life’s Magazine Food & Drink Awards, 2015


For media information, please contact:

Sarah Proctor at SP Media Relations (
tel. 01904 488422 (07808 586 512)

Editor’s Notes

The Black Swan is a four star country boutique hotel with 45 bedrooms. With their fine dining three AA rosette Restaurant, ‘The Gallery’ featuring stunning original artwork from the Helmsley Galleries and their charming tearooms serving traditional afternoon teas and light meals and snacks, the hotel offers an outstanding choice of dining options. Long established as a coaching inn, since the C15th, and then as a hotel since the C18th, The Black Swan sets the tone for standards of hospitality in this affluent and rural part of Yorkshire, on the edge of the North York Moors.

Awards include North East Regional Winner of The Wedding Industry Awards’ Best Venue, 2012 and 2013, The White Rose Awards ‘Large Hotel of the Year’, 2015, ‘Hotel of the Year’ in Visit York’s Tourism Awards, 2015, Yorkshire Life Hotel of the Year, 2015 and 2008-9 and The Tea Guild’s ‘Top Tea Place’,2010 and ‘Award of Excellence’, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.