One of the district’s most famous eateries was hailed as “the number one restaurant in the north of England” as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White returned to the Michelin-starred Box Tree in Ilkley on Tuesday and was able to reminisce about the restaurant when he first worked there as a 17-year-old in the late 1970s, under the tutelage of owners and founders Malcolm Reid and Colin Long, who set up the business in 1962.

Now a business associate and friend of current owners Simon and Rena Gueller, he hailed the restaurant which helped shape his career.

“It’s an institution and it is without doubt the number one restaurant in the north of England,” said Mr White.

“That is unquestionable because of its history. If you go back to the 70s it was one of only four restaurants in the whole of Great Britain to have two stars from Michelin.

“What Malcolm Reid and Colin Long created was something quite extraordinary. Their contribution to gastronomy in the UK was enormous and they are one of the foundation stones of gastronomy here without doubt.

“I think Box Tree will be here in another 50 years, I think people will be sitting here when it’s 100 years old.”