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Chefs Get Personal

06 Jul 2021

an interview with Lisa Goodwin-Allen

Chef Name: Lisa Goodwin-Allen

Age: 40

Title: Executive Chef

Awards:

  • Michelin star holder (Northcote has retained this continuously since 1996)
  • Great British Christmas Menu 2020 – 3 winning dishes through to banquet
  • 4 AA Rosettes
  • Hotel Chef of the Year, The Hotel Cateys 2019
  • Shortlisted for the AA Chef’s Chef of the Year 2019
  • Top 1,000 Restaurants in the World 2019 & 2020, La Liste
  • Craft Guild of Chefs, Restaurant Chef 2011
  • Winning dish on Great British Menu 2010
  • Best Chef of the Year 2008 – Northern Hospitality Awards
  • Roux Scholarship finalist

How old were you when you started cooking professionally? 

I started at Lancaster & Morecambe College when I finished school at 16, and worked at a local restaurant. During my time at college I also worked at Whitewalls Restaurant and Holbeck Ghyll. After my three years at college, I landed a job at the 2-Michelin-star Le Champignon Sauvage.

What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food? 

It has to be my Mum’s cottage pie. She’s known in the family for this famous dish; she uses everything from the top shelf of the fridge. I’ve no idea how she makes it, but it’s delicious every time.

Which chefs inspire you most and why? 

I have a lot of admiration for David Everitt Matthias, who I worked under at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham after I completed college. I worked closely with him, and his philosophy and knowledge of food is impeccable. I learned so much from him that has stayed with me ever since.

Clare Smyth is also very inspirational. She’s a leading female chef who has achieved so much on her journey so far.

What are your two favourite cookbooks and why? 

I don’t often read cookbooks, as when I’m at home we usually just cook our favourite meals together. Most of the dishes we make are safely stored in my head.

Which two ingredients could you not live without?

Onions – I love onions, they’re incredibly versatile and while they’re known as a peasant ingredient, they deserve to stand out on their own.

Butter – who doesn’t love a bit of butter?!

What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?

Tinned tomatoes on toast with grated cheese and salt. It’s a very simple, humble, tasty comfort food, and a guilty pleasure!

If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why? 

Frantzén in Stockholm, Sweden. It looks absolutely amazing and I’ve been wanting to visit for ages.

And who would you take as your guest?

Occasionally, a group of colleagues from the Northcote kitchen will go on a fact-finding trip and experience a restaurant we’ve never visited before. We draw new inspiration from these trips, so this would be perfect.

What do you look for in a good chef?

Passion, dedication and the willingness to keep learning.

What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now? 

Gain as much experience as possible, and try to absorb all the skills you can from the people around you. Hospitality is an incredible field, not only can you learn a lot through hard work and determination, but you can see the world – and it is like one big family!

How has the pandemic affected your restaurant? And how did you adapt and evolve throughout?

It’s been a horrific time for hospitality and it’s been amazing and inspirational to see how people have adapted to survive. We introduced gourmet boxes with nationwide delivery and received an incredible response. The demand was extremely high throughout lockdown for our boxes, and it helped give our team something positive to focus and work on during the closure.

Can you share any wisdom from the experience so far with others? Have you changed? Has your cooking changed?

As I’ve grown older and gained more experience as a chef, I’ve learned that less is more. The quality of ingredients and produce is vital to making amazing dishes.

Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen is Executive Chef at Restaurant Northcote

Website: www.northcote.com

Address: Northcote Road, Langho, Blackburn, Lancashire

Telephone: +44 1254 240 555

Instagram: @chef_lisa_allen & @northcoteuk

Twitter: @_LisaAllen

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