Lancashire Life Luncheon - The Wayfarer pub and restaurant, Parbold.

There is no place Rachel and Jonny Birkett would rather be than The Wayfarer pub and restaurant they run in Parbold. Emma Mayoh reports PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012  issue of Lancashire Life  We can deliver a copy direct to your door – order online here

Like the name of the country pub and restuarant she runs, Rachel Birkett has been on a journey. She is the first to admit that as a teen she was rebellious, leaving school early to take on a job as a waitress. During this time, being lured by bad influences, she drifted from her family. But when she returned to work at The Wayfarer in Parbold, the 18th century pub and restaurant owned by parents Nadine and Mel Street, things started to improve.

She attributes her faith as part of the reason for the turnaround – religious and inspirational quotes are discreetly dotted in various places around the pub. But she also said it is The Wayfarer itself that has been instrumental in strengthening herself and her family relationships.

She said: ‘We’re like one big family here and I love being a part of it. The more involvement I’ve had in the business, the more I have become closer to my family. It’s not just about earning uka living and making a career, it’s about creating that family environment.’

Rachel gradually worked her way up through the ranks in the family business. Although her parents still own the business, the running of it falls to Rachel and her husband Jonny. The pub is split into three areas, a traditional pub section, a restuarant for fine dining and Il Viandante Ristorante, an Italian restaurant aimed at the early evening market. The couple are also hoping to launch their own microbrewery.

A recent addition to the team has been their new head chef Paul Harries who has swapped city life – he worked in Manchester for several successful places inculding Second Floor Restauarant at Harvey Nichols – for a quieter life at the helm in Parbold. It is with Paul’s expertise that Rachel and Jonny want to refocus on the fine dining side of the business.

The talented chef certainly got off to a good start at the latest Lancashire Life luncheon. After fruity cocktails and delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese canapes, guests were treated to a delicately flavoured starter of Morecambe Bay shrimp ravioli with asparagus and a tomato confit.

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The main event didn’t have to come far. A beautifully roasted rack of Cumbrian lamb from H Greaves & Son in Upholland was served with a substantial ox cheek bonbon, broad beans, pink fir potato, beetroot, carrot and intensely flavoured cubes of mint jelly.

Dessert allowed the kitchen team to show their talents with a Cox’s apple assiete of a pannacotta, tart and zingy cider sorbet. This was quickly followed by a goat’s curd served with roasted white peach and brioche.

Rachel and Jonny may have already been on a long journey. Armed with the company motto “truth, goodness, excellence” to guide them there is no doubt the next step will be an exciting adventure.

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