How Mark Birchall made Moor Hall the best restaurant in the UK

Mark comes from Chorley and is passionate about Lancashire food

Mark comes from Chorley and is passionate about Lancashire food - Credit: Archant

Lancashire is a powerhouse on the British food scene and this double Michelin star holder is one of its driving forces.

A chef whose name – and whose two Michelin star restaurant with rooms Moor Hall – is on the lips of any foodie, Mark Birchall is a man setting the hospitality industry on fire. Here you will find food that is not just among the best in the north but the best in the UK. A fact that has been made official two years on the run with Moor Hall topping the list in the National Restaurant Awards.

Us Lancastrians knew it anyway, of course. We’ve written many times how Mark Birchall stunned the food world by being awarded a Michelin star within six months of opening in 2017, and then followed with a second star the year after. To say this is a remarkable achievement would be under-selling its significance. 

And it is all the creation of an Adlington lad who flunked his home economics exams. Since he opened the doors of Moor Hall, and the equally brilliant The Barn at Moor Hall, a neighbourhood restaurant under the careful watch of head chef Nathan Cornwell, Mark and his team have received many accolades. From a clutch of Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards – including an Outstanding Achievement for Mark – to GQ’s Best Breakthrough and those all-important stars from Michelin. Tables are so in demand you’d struggle to get one before next spring.  

The menus at Moor Hall are delicate, innovative and full of produce-driven dishes. And from the materials used to renovate the former country pile and the plates the food is served on, to the herbs and vegetables grown in Moor Hall’s gardens and their excellent charcuterie produced on site, no detail is left uncared for. They are also creating a cheese cellar (a project stalled by you know what) and have infused hazelnut trees with truffle spores so they can soon produce their own truffles. 

Steak Tartare at Moor Hall

Steak Tartare at Moor Hall - Credit: n/a

They have ambitions, too, for their own bakery and on-site shop selling their products alongside gins and beers produced for them by Lancashire producers. There are plans for seven more rooms, too, in lodges around the grounds. 
‘My team and I have worked unbelievably hard to get Moor Hall to where it is today,’ says Mark, a former Roux scholar and executive chef at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel.

After the challenges in the last 18 months, it is incredibly important to recognise the work everyone is doing, and the determination of the industry to make it through.’ 

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Moor Hall’s success has also turned the gaze north towards the many other exceptional chefs, restaurateurs and producers who have been quietly creating food to be proud of, some for generations, in the county. Mark is leading the field and spurring everyone on.