After joining Northcote aged 20, she became chef de partie after a year, junior sous chef the following year then at the age of 23 was named head chef, one of the youngest chefs to take on the role in a Michelin starred kitchen at the time. Since then she has helped to maintain the restaurant’s Michelin Star which it has held for over 20 years in total.
Lisa is passionate about using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients to incorporate her Lancashire roots into her creative dishes. She says: “I am ambitious and here at Northcote, my goals have always been respected, that’s why I have stayed. Nigel and I have worked together on creating menus and dishes for a long time, the food will continue in a similar style, but there will be changes and I am excited about where I will be taking the menus. I like food to be very visual, very elegant and packed with great flavours. It must taste of what you see. Food is very emotive and I love re-visiting some of the classics.”
Lisa lives and breathes food; it is this passion that means she is always looking for interesting ingredients and techniques, and experimenting to create dishes where the ingredients and their flavour shine through. She works across the whole kitchen; managing the team, developing new dishes, handling the ins and outs of the commercial side of the kitchen, and creating a passionate and positive place for the brigade to work. Lisa continues: “It’s important to me to see the team developing and progressing – always learning and moving with the times. I want the team to achieve as much as we can together.”
Northcote’s ethos to use local suppliers is close to Lisa’s heart. She believes there are many unsung heroes and new generations developing new products that she likes to discover and work with.
Lisa says“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 to create new exciting dishes.”
Born in Lancashire, Lisa became interested in cookery at school enjoying the opportunity to be creative and express herself. Her culinary career began at Lancaster & Morecambe College. After graduating, she worked in several prestigious restaurants, including the two Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Gloucester, before arriving at Northcote.
Each year, Lisa is also part of the annual gastronomic event, Obsession, that Nigel launched in 2001 as a celebration of food and wine, leading the kitchen brigade to cook alongside some of the world’s best chefs, and having her own Obsession evening.
Lisa’s impressive culinary skills have landed her a number of TV opportunities such as serving her dish of rabbit & leek turnover to Prince Charles at a banquet celebrating the National Trust as part of BBC Two’s Great British Menu which she won in 2010 and was a finalist in 2011. She returned to the show as a guest judge in 2016. She was also a chef mentor on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2015 and a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals 2017, 2018/19, Celebrity Masterchef 2017 & 2018.
Giving back to the industry and training staff is hugely important to Lisa and something that she takes great enjoyment in. Lisa invests time daily in training the Northcote brigade as it is satisfying for both them and her to teach new skills, get them excited about ingredients, and continually move the brigade forward. In 2017, Lisa was involved in Springboard’s FutureChef, an industry-backed resource aimed at inspiring young people aged 12 – 16 to cook through classroom activities, demonstrations, competitions and awards. Lisa said, “I love to encourage people to come into this fantastic industry where you can learn so much and meet so many interesting people.”
Outside of work, Lisa loves to spend time with her husband and young son, often cooking with him. Having a family has really helped Lisa understand the importance of a work-life balance and made her even more determined to do well within the industry for her family.
Lisa’s Awards & Achievements
- Winner The Hotel Cateys, Hotel Chef of the Year 2019
- Shortlisted for the AA Chef’s Chef of the Year 2019
- Shortlisted in The Cateys 2019 for the Chef Award
- Winning dish on Great British Menu 2010
- Best Chef of the Year 2008 – Northern Hospitality Awards
- Restaurant of the Year – Craft Guild of Chefs
- Finalist in The Roux Scholarship
- Finalist in Young Chef Young Waiter