Top Lancashire chefs create pop-up restaurant in London to promote the county’s cuisine

The chefs Lancashire day line-up

The chefs Lancashire day line-up - Credit: FAT BADGER

Some of our county’s top chefs travelled to London to showcase their spectacular food at a special pop-up restaurant. Emma Mayoh joined them

If you’re from Lancashire, you know you’ll always have great food at your fingertips. From Morecambe Bay shrimps and salt marsh lamb in Cockerham to fish from Fleetwood and cheeses from the Ribble Valley, we’re a lucky bunch.

But unfortunately for many of those living outside of our borders - in particular those south of Watford Gap - it’s probably all a bit of a mystery. But that is about to change thanks to a special event held in London. The Lancashire Day pop-up restaurant was set up at the Ice Tank in Covent Garden in a bid to attract more attention from London food critics, journalists and broadcasters.

The event, organised by Marketing Lancashire, was part of a growing campaign to spread the word about the brilliant food coming from the red rose county. The idea was first mooted at a special event held in early summer last year where some of Lancashire’s leading culinary lights got together with Marketing Lancashire to come up with a plan on how to boost our food and drink industry.

Just a few months on and, with a stellar line-up of chefs, it all came together. Stosie Madi from Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland, Chris Bury from The Cartford Inn in Little Eccleston, Maurizio Bocchi from La Locanda in Gisburn, Steven Smith from Freemason’s at Wiswell and Lisa Goodwin-Allen from Michelin starred Northcote in Langho prepared a five-course feast including Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb and Lytham cockle pie, Brockhall Village Apple Cheesecake and Procter’s Kickass Cheddar Cheese Hot Dogs.

The menu featured duck from Goosnargh, artisan goat’s cheese from Capra Products, Ormskirk potatoes, honey from Crossmoor Farm, raw milk butter from Gazegill Organics and Burnley’s latest artisan gin distiller, Batch Brew.

There was also a gourmet coffee course from Lancaster’s oldest coffee importers Atkinson’s, a Lancashire cheeseboard supplied by Dewlay and Mrs. Kirkham’s, alongside handmade chutneys from Heritage Kitchen in Bacup and biscuits from Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson.

The audience of respected food critics and journalists from national newspapers, food magazines, and radio included Lancashire-born Shelia Dillon, presenter of The Food Programme on Radio 4.

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She has long been a champion of food from the county including giving initiatives like the Ribble Valley Food Trail glowing coverage. The county and the food that comes from it is something she holds dear.

‘I grew up with fabulous food so I know Lancashire has some great things to offer,’ she said. ‘My grandmother used to pot her own shrimp. We would go to Preston Market she would buy a pound of brown shrimp. I loved them; in fact, I can’t think of anything she made that I didn’t love.

‘She did a lot herself, in fact, but it was just a part of life. It was just what we did. My mum was a very good cook too and it formed such an essential part of my childhood.

‘My dad would borrow a gun and go and shoot rabbits out near our house. Or we would get food from farmers across the way. It was fantastic and those farmers and producers are still the backbone of the good food in Lancashire.

‘There are really wonderful food traditions in Lancashire, it’s just great. It’s a part of the county’s make-up. There’s just that character here.

‘You get off the train at Preston and you just feel it. That’s reflected in what we do. The food we had here today was fantastic and it’s now important to talk about that and the stories behind the people producing and cooking it.’

For Steven Smith, chef at Freemasons at Wiswell, it was the culmination of months of work.

‘This is something special and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Ten years ago maybe people wouldn’t have looked at us but now I think they are beginning to take notice. Things are changing.

‘There is an abundance of quality operators and producers in our region and it was fantastic to be able to package that offering up and deliver it to an esteemed audience in London,’ he said.

‘I’m very proud that The Freemasons was part of such a great event, which really showcased what we’re capable of. It’s an exciting opportunity for us all.’

For Lisa Goodwin-Allen, executive head chef at Northcote, it was an opportunity to shine a light on some of the county’s best producers and culinary talent.

‘Today is massive for Lancashire,’ she said. ‘It’s so humbling that we can take all this fantastic produce we have got and work with it to put together meals that we really hope will impress.

‘There’s always a pressure with things like this but it’s absolutely amazing to be able to do it.

‘We have some fantastic things going on in Lancashire and it is time that more people knew about what is happening. The produce is what really makes these dishes shine and I’m proud to be able to show them off.’

Maurizio Bocchi, chef-patron at La Locanda, in Gisburn, which is the highest rated Italian restaurant outside London, said: ‘As an adopted Lancastrian who tries to celebrate the Lancashire larder in every dish I produce, it was fantastic to be able to showcase this in London.

‘I was very proud to be a part of such a game changing initiative and I’m excited to see the impact it has on the food in the county that I love so much. It was an honour to be involved and to work with such fantastic chefs.’

Food and drink is worth around £734 million to Lancashire’s visitor economy, which has grown by £129 million over the last six years.

This makes the county’s food and drink sector a top priority. It is now hoped that Lancashire’s food offer will get national and international exposure drawing in more visitors.

‘The Lancashire Day Lunch was a triumph,’ said Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire. ‘Our aim is to position Lancashire at the forefront of culinary destinations nationwide.

‘Following this successful event our food and drink offer is now firmly on the map, with influencers taking note. We couldn’t have been prouder of our chefs, working together to present course after course of the very best of Lancashire.’

*The event was supported by Lancashire County Council and official travel partner Virgin Trains.

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