TheTour De France has been on everyone’s lips in Yorkshire over the past few years and it is finally here tomorrow. The Box Tree Restaurant has had a considerable part to play during the lead up to the tour, from cooking for the director sportif Christian Prudhomme and other cycling legends at Harewood House during the bid to win the Grand Depart. As an avid cyclist, Simon Gueller the Executive chef of Michelin Starred Box Tree Restaurant, has played a large part in the journey for the biggest event in Yorkshire.
Simon originally took up mountain biking 5 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the fitness aspect of it all. This is where his love for cycling began, and slowly his passion for mountain biking turned to road biking. Simon cycled all over, from the Yorkshire Dales to the Lakes and on to do a stage in France, often accompanied by Box Tree Manager Andrew Pratt. Therefore when Yorkshire had the opportunity to host the Tour de France, Simon was keen to be a part of it.
It all began on the 23rd May 2012 at Harewood House, where Tour de France Officials gathered, including Christian Prudhomme and Gary Verity to decipher whether Yorkshire were to win the bid for The Grand Depart in Yorkshire 2014. This particular event was a highlight of Simon’s Tour de France experience as he had the privilege of creating a locally sourced menu for the Officials.
Tranch of Whitby Cod, Tomato Fondue, Grain Mustard and Thyme Crust
Shoulder of Tinkler Farm Spring Lamb, Panache of Spring Vegetables from Wharfedale Grange Harewood
Crumble Tart with Famous Yorkshire Rhubarb and Custard with Ice Cream
When asked what Yorkshire winning the Tour de France meant to Simon, not only as a cyclist but as a Yorkshire man he was initially lost for words, as he was still coming to terms with the whole event. “As a cycling fan the opportunity to see world class cyclists riding on the roads that I have ridden feels surreal”.
On 7 July 2013 Simon took part in L’etape du Tour which was stage 20 of the 2013 Tour de France a 130km route, starting in the town of Annecy and finishing at the ski station of Annecy-Semnoz. Simon was invited to ride with the Welcome to Yorkshire Team, as they knew he was a keen cyclist with a high level of fitness, that being said it was hard to prepare for the level of climbing involved due to the high temperatures and altitudes of 1,655m. As much as Simon trained for L’etape du Tour, this all went out of the window when his bike did not make it from Manchester to Geneva. On very little sleep, ill fitting shoes and a new bike Simon set off on L’etape du Tour. Despite completing the race in agony it was the most amazing experience.
In July 2013 Simon and Rena were invited by the British Ambassador to the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on the Champs-Elysee and even joined him for afternoon tea at his residence, it was an incredible opportunity they both thoroughly enjoyed.
In January 2014 Simon and Rena were invited to the Gala Dinner at Leeds Town Hall for the official announcement of the Tour coming to Yorkshire. On the 27th March, Simon, Rena and the Box Tree Team were invited to Ripon Cathederal to celebrate the official 100 day countdown to the Grand Depart.
On 22nd May Simon cycled the 1st stage of the Tourde France route with Sky TV. The route is 170 km and a few weeks ago Simon completed the 1st stage again for the fourth time. The 1st stage of the Tour de France 2014 sets off from Leeds Town Hall and passes through the Yorkshire Dales National Park to finish in Harrogate. “It is a fantastic route with the very best of Yorkshire’s scenery incorporated. There are a few difficult climbs with a very fast finish. Overall it is a very exciting stage of the tour, hence why I’ve now completed it four times.”
The Box Tree team are honored to host the exclusive breakfast at Harewood House for selected guests and members of the Royal Family; William, Kate and Harry will be attending for the Grand Depart. In addition, the Box Tree Events team will be across the road from the restaurant on Daffodil Hill, right in the heart of the action, selling baguettes, pastries, beer, champagne and strawberry’s. Come and join us to celebrate the Tour de France in Yorkshire 2014.
This morning Simon and Andrew experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity, to ride into the Yorkshire Dales with one of the greatest cyclists of all time, Bernard Hinault.
In a couple of days the Tour de France will be over, for some of us anyway. For the keen cyclists such as Simon, the Tour Legacy, a three day bike race run every year bringing the top riders in the world back over here for a 3 stage bike race, will help maintain the Tour de France Yorkshire Legacy.