New Michelin star a 'shock' to the Dog & Gun Inn

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Over the moon: Chef-owner of the Dog & Gun Inn shares shock at bagging Michelin star
Over the moon: Chef-owner of the Dog & Gun Inn shares shock at bagging Michelin star

Related tags Michelin pub Michelin guide Awards Cumbria Gastropub

Chef-owner of gastropub the Dog & Gun Inn, which bagged a Michelin star last week, was “over the moon” his small, Cumbrian pub had scored the prestigious award.

The pub in Skelton, which had held a Bib Gourmand award for three years prior, was one of two pub additions to be granted a Michelin star in the 2022 Michelin Guide last Wednesday (16 February). It is the only pub in Cumbria to hold Michelin-starred status. 

The Michelin Guide​ praised the pub’s “down-to-earth service” and “hearty, satisfying dishes [which have] plenty of depth and flavour.” Chef-owner Queen-Fryer, described by the Guide as “talented yet unassuming”, said the award came as a “shock”.  

“We’re just a very small pub. The other places with Michelin stars in Cumbria are stand-alone restaurants, country houses, or venues within larger estates. So, I’m overwhelmed we managed to do it here on this site. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.” 

Queen-Fryer and his wife opened the pub five years ago, with no financial backing, having sold the house they’d lived in on the other side of Cumbria. At first, the pair served standard dishes like burgers, Swedish meatballs and fish and chips, before the chef begun diverting from pub classics.  

Over the moon

Sourcing ingredients from local suppliers over the past two years had elevated the dishes’ quality: lamb comes from a farm at the bottom of the village, and fish is also bought from a local business.  

Despite this, Queen-Fryer was conscious about keeping prices reasonable. With three courses available for £35, he didn’t want to alienate regulars, who made up 30% to 40% of the customer base.  

He said: “I want people to have a special meal because they’ve enjoyed it. I don't want it to be special because someone's spending a lot of money on the meal.” If people were happy when handing over money when paying with the bill, they would be more likely to come back, he reckoned.  

The inn’s staff, who were mostly from the village, were “over the moon” to win the star. They celebrated the announcement with drinks and pizza. “After work, most people have to get back home, so it was nice to spend time all together,” said the chef-owner. 

A lot of the team had started working for the pub with almost no hospitality experience, according to Queen-Fryer. “But, they’re good honest people. They make mistakes along the way, but then they apologise. They’re always learning.”

Smiles all around

This included the manager, Colette. “She’s lived in the village her whole life,” said Queen-Fryer. “She began pot-washing, and now she’s the front-of-house manager. In the beginning, she wasn’t all that confident talking to people, but she’s managed for seven or eight months now. She’s completely changed. 

“Winning the star is amazing for her, because how many people get to manage a venue which has gained one of these awards? It’s a very rare thing to win a star, and especially to be part of the team that’s done it.” 

Queen-Fryer’s advice to other venues seeking Michelin status was to make customers happy. “If they come back, you're winning already. If you're busy and making money, anything else that comes is a bonus.” 

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