THE chef at the helm of the North East’s only two Michelin star restaurant is swapping Darlington for the Dolomites when he appears at a leading trade event this week.

James Close, who owns and runs acclaimed restaurant The Raby Hunt in the village of Summerhouse near Darlington,  is the only chef from England invited to take part in CARE’s Ethical Chef Days from 14-17 January in Alta Badia, Italy.

Over four days, some of the world’s most celebrated chefs and restaurant professionals will gather to discuss the future of sustainable gastronomy.

In a series of masterclasses, round tables and presentations, the chefs will demonstrate how to cook for a sustainable lifestyle which incorporates eating healthily and respecting nature.

The event is one of CARE’s regular conferences, which have become renowned within the industry for dealing with ethics and sustainability issues.

Last month, self-taught James appeared on BBC TV show Masterchef: The Professionals, and since then his popularity has rocketed, with thousands of new bookings flooding in.

A spokesman from CARE’s said the organisation is delighted to have James on board. “One of the reasons why James was chosen was his rather discreet yet unique representation of contemporary British cuisine,” he said.

“We choose the chefs who have a voice on the global gastronomic scene to explore the topic of sustainability and ideas for the future generations.

“We wanted to challenge his thoughts on ethical cooking and explore his ideas on what the future holds for British cuisine in relation to sustainability.”

“It’s a great honour to be the only the UK chef invited to this prestigious event where I’ll be meeting up with some of the best chefs from across the globe,” said James. “It’s rare to have this opportunity to share ideas and to see the work of your peers so I’m extremely excited about taking part.”

The restaurant will be closed while James is in Italy but will re-open on his return.

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