Lisa Goodwin-Allen has been behind the stoves at Northcote since 2001. In 2004, at the age of 23, she became Head Chef, and in 2017 she was made Executive Chef. Northcote – which has held a Michelin Star since 1996 – is situated in Langho in Lancashire, and Lisa’s dishes draw inspiration from the Ribble Valley landscape.
At what age did you decide that you wanted to become a chef and who or what inspired you?
I fell in love with food during my school years. I was always fascinated by watching my family cook, and, as I grew up, I was more practical than academic. Cooking allowed me to express who I was through food, and I wanted to continue on this journey.
Who’s the best chef you have worked for and which other chefs do you admire?
I have a lot of admiration for David Everitt-Matthias, who I worked under at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham after I completed college. His philosophy and knowledge of food is impeccable. I learned so much from him that has stayed with me ever since.
What’s your favourite worldwide restaurant and why?
I had an amazing experience from start to finish at Alinea in Chicago (which has Three Michelin Stars). You can really taste the true ethos and passion that is there behind the stove.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
It’s difficult to choose but certainly one that stands out is Amador in Vienna (which has Three Michelin Stars). Juan Amador was a guest chef at Northcote’s annual food event ‘Obsession’ in 2018. I was intrigued by his food and wanted to visit his restaurant. A small group of us from the Northcote kitchen organised a trip to Vienna and the experience didn’t disappoint. Every dish we tried was packed with distinct layers, flavours and textures. It was a very special experience.
What’s your favourite local ingredient?
The curd cheese from Leagram Dairy. It is produced in a nearby village here in the Ribble Valley called Chipping. It is their day-old curd and is a beautiful, versatile cheese. It is delicious!
And your favourite global ingredient?
Scarlet prawns – they are sweet, intense and vibrant, and they are visually stunning too. I love creating dishes using them and finding new flavours to pair them with.
Where do you get your influences from?
Seasonality and locality are extremely important in order to get the best flavours. I like to take traditional dishes and classic flavours and put a modern spin on them.
Is there a dish you could never take off the menu at Northcote?
The Northcote Cheese Bread has become a firm favourite with our guests. We use a specific local cheese; for us, it doesn’t work with any other cheese and many diners compliment us on it.
What’s the best thing about being a chef?
It is an amazing industry where you never stop learning and you can show your imagination, passion and flair. You are able to meet new people, make new friends and share knowledge. It gives you the opportunity to travel and enjoy new experiences. For me, food is where the heart is.
What advice would you give to a young chef just starting out?
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, you can see the world and it is like one big family!
And finally, which are your favourite restaurants in the Michelin Guide UK & Ireland?