Origins of Lisa Goodwin-Allen

The Northcote executive chef draws inspiration from her Lancashire childhood, retro dishes and brilliant South African chefs, in a career that saw her rise to great heights at 23 and develop a keenness for local food traditions

Origins of Lisa Goodwin-Allen Photo


My late Nana was an excellent cook who owned a café in Ingleton called The Three Peaks and made good, tasty food like one-pot meals. My parents helped her out after work, so there was a family connection with food. At home, we ate slow-cooked meats or sausages and mash – I loved my mum’s cottage pie, which she made with whatever was on the top shelf of the fridge.


My parents always supported local businesses, so we’d go to a family-run Spanish restaurant in Morecambe called Alfredo’s that served retro dishes like garlic mushrooms in breadcrumbs. I like to revisit recipes that spark memories; I’m looking at creating a nostalgic mushroom dish using wild garlic at Northcote.

Sunday sandwiches

Dad owned a scrap metal yard where I worked at the weekend – I loved working with my hands. We’d buy a chicken on the way home on Sunday and make salty roast chicken sandwiches and have a vanilla slice while we watched Bullseye. It probably wasn’t the best vanilla slice but it always felt like a treat.

Catering college

I struggled at school but I was good at home economics. I loved that cookery could bring people together and make them feel good about themselves so when I left school I thought, I’m going to see where I can take this, and spent three years at Lancaster & Morecambe College.


I worked whenever I could while I was at college, even if it was just in the back of someone’s kitchen or taking a little job to learn more. If you’re passionate about what you do, you can achieve anything. I think that’s a good thing to say to young people. I wasn’t academic but I believed in what I loved and drove myself. I still like to learn new things and passing that education on to a younger generation is very important to me.


My college lecturer, Robert Marshall-Slater, was an important mentor to me. It was so inspiring to listen to him share the experiences of the incredible places he’d worked and impart a sense of discovery. He introduced me to David Everitt-Matthias at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.

David Everitt-Matthias

Working at Le Champignon Sauvage, which had two Michelin stars, was a big leap. It’s a very small kitchen and there was only David and one other chef, so it was fantastic to have that one-on-one tuition and learn David’s food philosophy. He has been a pioneer for foraging in the UK and the farm-to-fork ethos.


When I started at Northcote I felt like a young gun who was only going to stay for a year or two and then travel the world. But Nigel Haworth made me head chef when I was 23. He taught me not only about the local suppliers in Lancashire but also how to run a kitchen.

Angela Hartnett

As a female chef, Angela Hartnett was a big influence on me. As well as being extremely talented, she’s one of the loveliest people and a great advocate for the hospitality industry. We’ve become good friends. That’s an amazing thing about hospitality – friendships are grown by picking up the phone and asking for advice

South Africa

My husband is from South Africa and I think it’s an awesome food destination, whether it’s a small place by the beach or a winery. There are brilliant chefs out there doing similar things to what we do at Northcote, cooking very seasonally and being influenced by local food traditions. I once had an incredible meal at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek when Margot Janse was the head chef. The way she used native herbs like buchu was very similar to how we stamp a dish with a foraged herb or an ingredient from Lancashire.

Origins of Lisa Goodwin-Allen Photo

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