James Close opened The Raby Hunt in Darlington, now the North East of England's first and only two-Michelin star restaurant, in 2009.
The self-taught chef, who received his first star in 2012, only began working in the restaurant business at 28, after a "failed golf career".
But when he's not at the stove, you'll find him out and about with his daughter Harriett, and his partner Maria. "The area has amazing produce, and the restaurant scene is evolving: I like to think we set the ball rolling to inspire future chefs," he says.
Katie's Traditional Fish and Chips
"Every Monday, I pick Harriett up after school and we go to Katie's in Barnard Castle, which is a beautiful market town. We tend to eat in, and take the time to just have a chat about school and life. We order cod or the daily special; it always has a light, crispy batter."
15 Horse Market, Barnard Castle, Co Durham DL12 8LY; 01833 638282; katiestraditionalfishandchips.co.uk
"An organic farm shop and café with a Post Office not far from The Raby Hunt, which makes you never want to go to the supermarket again. The sun terrace reminds me of France, and they're dedicated to breeding the best. The taste of the chicken is magnificent: we often pick one up to take home on a Sunday along with any other bits."
"My favourite restaurant in Darlington, for proper Neapolitan style pizza. My go-to is The Forager pizza, topped with mozzarella, wild mushrooms, red onion, truffle oil and rosemary."
33-35 Duke Street, Darlington, Co Durham DL3 7RX; 01325 730400; stablehearth.com
"The chef behind this Mexican taqueria, Shaun Hurrell, has serious talent. Soon to open in Durham after a residency in Newcastle (on Jan 20), this is probably the biggest opening in the North East for few years: he's obsessed with doing Mexican the proper way, no shortcuts – he makes his own masa flour, and the langoustine with salsa matcha will blow your mind."
34 Church Street, Durham DH1 3DG; barriocomida.com
"This friendly, relaxed Newcastle bistro serves great ingredients, simply and perfectly. Think radiatori with a fennel and sausage ragù is always spot on, and they do a cracking Sunday lunch: rare-breed pork belly, roast pollock or 65-day aged Hereford sirloin."
139 Jesmond Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1JY; 0191 281 4443; the-patricia.com