Among the UK’s leading chefs is Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who has taken sole command of the kitchen brigade at the renowned Northcote
Northcote’s executive chef Lisa Allen is taking centre stage at the restaurant with her modern British cooking.
In a gradual transition, Northcote has seen Lisa’s mentor, chef Nigel Haworth, take a back seat presenting her with the opportunity to put her own unique, modern stamp on the menu. Nigel will continue to work as Northcote’s ‘global ambassador’ and head-up the world-renowned Obsession festival as well as hosting special events at the hotel.
“We see this as a great opportunity – the perfect succession plan,” said Northcote’s managing director Craig Bancroft, who has worked with Nigel for 35 years.”
“I will miss working with him on a day to day basis,” he says. “But I have massive admiration for Nigel, taking such a big decision to allow Lisa to shine. He is my greatest pal and I have such respect for him, this is the opportunity that Lisa always wanted. Lisa has worked with Nigel for the past 15 years, she is part of Northcote’s DNA.”
Lisa agrees, adding: “I am ambitious and here at Northcote, my goals and my ambition has always been respected. That’s why I have stayed.”
“Nigel and I have worked together on creating menus and dishes for a long time, so of course, the food will continue in a similar style, but there will be changes, as I develop the menus.”
“Northcote’s ethos to use local suppliers is also close to my heart. There are lots of unsung heroes and new generations bringing new products that I want to discover and work with. It’s about taking that local produce and putting my twist on it – working with the seasons, to bring out the best of every product and create new exciting dishes.”
“I like food to be very visual, very elegant and packed with great flavours. It must also taste of what you see. Food is very emotive – I love re-visiting some of the old classics.”
Lisa recently mentored Northcote sous chef Danny Young, 25, who was named Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year 2018. “He has impeccable flair and ability,” says Lisa, who became Northcote’s head chef when she was just 23. “I learnt from experience and I am still learning now. It is very much about educating the team, letting them have that flair and fire in them.”
As well as educating her brigade, Lisa has also changed the working hours in the Northcote kitchen to bring out the best in her team: “I think it’s vital that we have a motivated and stable team. It is a hard industry to work in, why make it harder? I am very proud of what we have done here at Northcote,” says Lisa who says her working days have become much more structured since having her son Teddy-Ray.
“I love being a mum! But since having a child I am more disciplined. It adds a different challenge, but I’ve made it work and for the better.”
So as this new era unfolds at Northcote what does the future hold? Lisa says she will become more involved in the development of the bio-dynamic gardens, as she considers it incredibly important when combining the garden experience with chef expertise, to guarantee exactness from seed to plate.
Northcote also continues to invest in people, which is paramount to Lisa, when leading the brigade to success. In line with this, the hotel is developing five ‘bed-sit’ rooms to provide a facility for young chefs to experience stagiers at Northcote.
Lisa is already highly respected in the industry for her achievements to date. She has made a name for herself in the celebrity chef world, as a winner of BBC’s Great British Menu, with regular appearances on Master Chef and Saturday Kitchen. However, this new chapter will see her strive for even more success – her love of food and Northcote will definitely be something to watch.
She is adamant that achieving two Michelin stars for Northcote is not her primary goal now that she has taken charge of the kitchen: “I think everyone would love two Michelin stars but we are not focusing on it too much – we are going to achieve what we can as a team. You can’t get too fixated on it, you have to allow it to come naturally. What we have to concentrate on is consistently producing outstandingly brilliant food – all the time.”
Langho BB6 8BE