Nigel Haworth was born in July 1958 and his early training was undertaken at Accrington and Rossendale College, Lancashire when the college's reputation was far reaching. On leaving college he worked in the South of England at the Royal Berkshire in Ascot and the Grosvenor Hotel in London. In 1978 he began working in Switzerland in several Swiss Hotels. He worked with Natalie Viscardie, one of the finest chefs in Switzerland, based at the Schweizerhof Hotel. After two years in Switzerland he took a seasonal position at Gleneagles Hotel during 1980, and in December 1980 he returned to Switzerland. Nigel enjoyed four more Swiss properties, in particular the Hotel Mont Cervin where he perfected his patisserie skills and obtained a diploma in his sugar work. His time in Switzerland will never be forgotten and we still see Swiss undertones in some of his cookery today. Skiing was a sport that he mastered and sadly one he has little time to enjoy in his busy life today.
Nigel returned to England totally disillusioned by the standards in restaurants and catering in the Lancashire region and decided to take the post of a lecturer where life began as a chef at Accrington and Rossendale College for eighteen months.
In March 1984 he was offered the challenging position as Head Chef of Northcote Manor. Northcote Manor was a property under new ownership which had been purchased as a run down restaurant with no reputation. Craig Bancroft was appointed in December 1983 to change the fortunes of Northcote Manor, his aim to develop a first class country house hotel in the Ribble Valley with an outstanding restaurant, and with Nigel's arrival, this now seemed possible. In the early part of 1986 Craig and Nigel acquired shares in Northcote Manor, bonding their partnership forever. In this same year, Northcote was awarded Commended Country House Hotel by the BTA, followed by Northcote Manor's first appearance in the Good Food Guide in 1987.
Nigel's dedication to the craft of cooking has enabled the restaurant to continue to thrive with a glowing reputation. Many young men and women have trained under his watchful eye and are now themselves leaders of this vibrant profession heading up high profile kitchens all over the country and in particular London. Training has always been at the forefront of Nigel's mind and consequently he and fellow North West chefs formed the North West Chefs Circle, a body determined to galvanise professionals, lecturers and students together for the greater good of the industry.
The pride of Lancashire has never been far away from Nigel's heart and he has trumpeted the qualities of Lancashire ingredients during these years, becoming an Ambassador for Regionality. His reputation as a chef of great skill and finesse sits alongside his desire to champion rustic and true "terroir". Over the years, Nigel has gained the respect of many great chefs from all over the World and as a testament to him, return to Northcote year on year to take part in the revered Obssesion food festival, which sees its 10th Anniversary in January 2010.
In 1989, Craig and Nigel managed to buy out their previous business partner to take total control of Northcote Manor. Difficult times were on the horizon, the economy was troubled but in 1992 they decided to take a gamble and invest in improving Northcote. The brave move paid off with local recognition receiving Lancashire Life's Restaurant of the Year 1993/94.
In 1995, Nigel's hard work was rewarded by the prestigious award of 'Egon Ronay Chef of the Year', it was at this time that promotions and demonstrations became part of his armoury of continuing to pioneer high standards, good exposure and overall promotion for Northcote Manor, Lancashire and it's producers.
Beyond the award of Egon Ronay Chef of the Year 1995, Northcote Manor also received County Hotel of the Year for Which Hotel Guide 1995 and the restaurant was given particular acclaim for Nigel's sticky toffee pudding in The Good Food Guide during the same year.
In January 1996 Nigel and his team finally achieved the award that everyone at the Manor has been working for. One Michelin Star has now been successfully retained each year to this present time. Nigel has become increasingly dedicated to maintaining the standards of Northcote and is very aware that good training will be key to the continuation of their success, after all that he has achieved this will ensure young people will want to work for this inspirational chef. Nigel is also mindful in continuing to build his reputation and profile and is now a member of the Masterchefs of Great Britain and is very proud to have become a full member of the Academy of Culinary Arts.
On 8th July 2004 at Buckingham palace Nigel received The Prince Philip Medal, City & Guilds highest achievement in recognition of his lifelong commitment to catering, leading him to be an inspiration to others.
In 2006 Nigel was honoured to receive The Lifetime Achievement Award at the Northern Hospitality Awards. The judges commented "A true ambassador for the industry, all of Nigel's success and hard won reputation has been utilised to promote an inspirational vision for Northern Hospitality."
Nigel's recent quest has been to increase his knowledge even further in the quality of produce grown or reared in Lancashire. He works closely with local growers, farmers and producers to help develop and perfect their product to the highest of standards.
Nigel's achievements now also include the development of Northcote Manor as a group business. His direction and influence along with his business partner Craig Bancroft have developed Northcote Offsite, an outside catering company, which includes a contract with Blackburn Rovers Football Club called Northcote at the Rovers, producing stadia catering of the highest standards for up to 1000 people and cutting edge delivery of food at many leading events, weddings and corporate hospitality.
Ribble Valley Inns (RVI) is the newest part of the Northcote Group of Companies which includes the Michelin Star Northcote and Northcote at The Rovers, The Three Fishes, The Highwayman Inn, The Clog and Billycock and The Bull at Broughton. It is in these highly successful pubs where Nigel conjures up mouth watering menus that credits his suppliers at every turn.
2009 has seen multiple awards for RVI, with Michael Ward, Head Chef of The Highwayman at Burrow, winning UK Pub Chef of the Year and also Game Chef of the Year for his dish of Partridge with Black Budding Croquette, Creamed Mash, Foragers Bacon and Juniper Sauce. Thomas Pickering at Mitton's Three Fishes, was named Poultry Chef of the Year for his Devilled Breast of Cornfed Goosnargh Chicken.
In 2009, Northcote scooped the British Hospitality Association Food Award presented by London Mayor Boris Johnson. Nigel also reached the final of BBC2's Great British Menu with his Lancashire Hotpot and made his BBC Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen debuts. On 7th July, when Craig and Nigel attended the Catey awards ceremony, they were honoured to receive the "Special Award" recognizing their significant contribution to the hospitality industry and inspiration to others along with championing regional produce long before it was fashionable to do so. In September 2009, Nigel was also awarded Outstanding Contribution to Tourism in the North West Tourism Awards.
2010 saw Nigel swap his chefs' whites for a cap and gown when he received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire for promoting the use of regional produce.
The year also sees Nigel and Craig Bancroft celebrating 25 years of being in business with a group turnover of over £10m.
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