chef black swan alan okane

The Black Swan hotel has a new chef at the helm.

The charming Black Swan Hotel sits pretty as a picture in Helmsley. It’s the ultimate getaway and also home to three AA-rosette-awarded Gallery Restaurant, where marvellous food is served by the newly appointed head chef Alan O’Kane and his brigade.

It was the bright lights of London that enticed Alan O’Kane to the fast-paced kitchens of the city where he began his career at The Savoy, before going on to The Capital, where he honed his classical culinary skills. Roles followed at renowned establishments, before he tired of London’s bustling streets and rowdy kitchens.


Since arriving at The Black Swan, Alan has become somewhat a food hero and it seems as though his talent and enthusiasm is infectious. Paul O’Hanlon, the Genereal Manager says, ‘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.’

In his new role, Alan overhauled the menus and immediately focused on bringing quality, ‘proper’ local produce through the kitchen doors. Alan tells us, ‘I want to know where the ingredients come from, how it’s reared, how it’s grown as to me, good food is great produce, flavour and a passion for cooking.’

The affluent Yorkshire village with its locals who enjoy genuine food attracted Alan to the simpler way of country kitchens. He says, ‘It’s great – game keepers turn up at the back door with deer and pheasant. I’m on the phone to my local suppliers discussing ideas and finding out everything I can about the produce. Having that relationship is essential as the ingredients are what make outstanding dishes and happy diners.’

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Simplicity is key and he chooses a discerning choice of only a few sensational ingredients with bold flavour combinations when creating dishes for both the stunning à la carte and six course tasting menus.

So, what’s in the pipeline for The Black Swan? ‘Stabilising my brigade; keeping the customers happy and I’ve got my eyes set on another AA rosette,’ he says. And, I’m sure it isn’t far off.

Read our review of The Gallery online.

Or read our Yorkshire Food & Drink Guide here:

Joele Forrester

Joele Forrester

Joele feels Hermione Granger’s pain of having a strange name and longs for people to be able to pronounce her name correctly (like guacamole!). Never one to take the lift, she still gets out of breath climbing the three flights of stairs to the office and is a lover of bookshops, vegetarian food and flavoured tea.

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