Luke Payne and partner Emma Daniels are creating food heaven in the pretty village of Hayfield in the High Peak. Here he talks about running his award-winning pub, how life could have been very different and shares recipes from his new book.

‘Being in a small community means we are lucky to have a deep connection with the locals. We love where we are based and the people around us.’

‘I was never in to going out and partying all the time at university. I wanted to cook. My friends were very supportive - but then they often woke up to the smell of freshly baked bread.’

Luke Payne had all but given up on becoming a chef. He’d spent time working at a large hospitality chain in Yorkshire, hoping for that breakthrough that would lead him to kitchens he could only dream of working in. Fatigued with pot washing and reheating meals for diners, and not being able to flex his creative muscles, he was days away from a job interview for a regional manager post working for Audi back in his Kent homeland. Then, everything changed. Eight weeks later, he and partner Emma Daniels opened The Pack Horse at Hayfield.

‘I was a bit fed up, the kitchens I was in weren’t places where you could be creative, but it was a foot in the door,’ says Luke, chef owner of the Pack Horse. ‘I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do, I was 21 when I started, and most other chefs had been in some kind of kitchen since they were 16.

Great British Life: Luke is a self-taught chef who runs the Pack Horse with partner, Emma Daniels. Luke is a self-taught chef who runs the Pack Horse with partner, Emma Daniels. (Image: Dan Burns)

‘There was one head chef who encouraged me, and we used to cook together out of hours and would rank each other’s food. I loved that side of things. But not being able to do that every day started to get to me. I looked for jobs in supermarkets and then the interview came up at Audi.

‘Two days before, I went for a drive and ended up in this gorgeous village called Hayfield. There was a sign saying, “Do you want to run this pub”. Well, yes, I did. I went back and spoke to Emma and eight weeks later, we were in. I was 24 when we opened. It’s such a crazy chance I was driving through that day, but I’m so pleased I was. To think none of this would ever have happened is mind blowing.’

That was back in 2016. Today Luke is one of the country’s best chefs who has received praise from some of the best in the business – think chef Adam Byatt from Trinity in Clapham, Mary-Ellen McTague, chef and co-founder of Eat Well MCR and Times food critic Marina O’Loughlin. The Pack Horse was named on the much-lauded Top 50 Gastropubs list, and it is featured in the Michelin Guide, Good Food Guide and Harden’s.

That sliding doors moment was also an important milestone for the county’s food scene with the couple leading the charge on Derbyshire’s constantly improving food and drink offer.

Great British Life: Unpretentious but elevated foods like Luke’s take on fish chips and mushy peas are what has earned The Pack Horse plauditsUnpretentious but elevated foods like Luke’s take on fish chips and mushy peas are what has earned The Pack Horse plaudits (Image: Dan Burns)

‘It’s a huge compliment for people to feel that way,’ says Luke. ‘We like to think we are doing our part but there are also other brilliant businesses doing the same too. We’re honoured to be among them.’

What is even more remarkable is Luke is a self-taught chef who, much to the delight of university pals, eschewed the typical university experience favouring spending as much of his spare time while studying for a drama degree, cooking for friends and learning his craft.

‘I was never really in to going out and partying all the time,’ smiles Luke. ‘I wanted to get value for money out of my university days. I wanted to cook. My friends were very supportive - but then they were often awoken to the smell of freshly baked bread. It was brilliant.

‘A friend and I had been watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on television at the time and he ate vegetarian for six months, so we decided to follow along with the programme – we both went vegetarian and did the recipes.

Great British Life: Cosy interiors, a warm welcome and great food are what keep diners coming back for more.Cosy interiors, a warm welcome and great food are what keep diners coming back for more. (Image: Dan Burns)

‘That really upped my ideas, and it made me realise being a chef was what I wanted to do. I still finished my drama degree, but I knew, even in the final year, that a kitchen was where I wanted to be.’

Together, Luke, as head chef and Emma as landlady – ‘I think that’s how she would want to be known’, have created a place equally beloved by everyone from food pilgrims in pursuit of gastronomic heaven to locals and walkers coming from nearby Kinder Scout and the High Peak. Sustainability and seasonal food, including from local award-winning butchers Mettrick’s in Glossop, is at the forefront of the menus as well as offering a warm welcome for everyone who visits.

‘We always wanted to be a place where muddy wellies and dogs and those enjoying a pint are as welcome as people coming for a more dressed up night on a Saturday,’ says Luke, 31. ‘Being in a small community like this means we are lucky to have a deep connection with the locals, that’s something Emma has done a very good job of. We love where we are based and the people around us.

‘We’re also so lucky to have businesses like Mettrick’s so close to our door. The meat we get from them is exceptional and to have someone with such experience and knowledge, you couldn’t ask for more.

Great British Life: Luke Payne and Emma Daniels with son, Elliot. Luke Payne and Emma Daniels with son, Elliot. (Image: Dan Burns)

‘But all of this is what a pub should be, a place where everyone feels welcome and where the food is exceptional.’

Luke has celebrated all that makes the Pack Horse a special place with a new book. The Pack Horse: A Journey through the Seasons is a self-penned love letter to the pub and dining destination Luke and Emma have so lovingly nurtured taking readers through a year in the life of the pub, encompassing seasonal British food at its best alongside the well-worn trails of the local countryside.

It features not only glorious recipes and food celebrating the best of seasonal Derbyshire and British produce, but the pub’s surrounding scenery captured in stunning imagery, showcasing the turn of the seasons throughout the year and several favourite walks complete with route maps and instructions.

It moves through four chapters of recipes – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – each with an opener explaining how that season’s produce drives The Pack Horse’s menu and a spread of irresistible starters, mains and desserts to recreate at home. Derbyshire producers, as you might expect, feature highly including Mettrick’s Butchers in Glossop.

‘The book has been a lovely thing to be able to do,’ says Luke. ‘To be able to spend that time thinking about our journey, the things we have done and to spend time with the photographer out in the countryside around the pub and then celebrating British produce through our recipes, it’s been a wonderful thing. Quite the opportunity.

Luke and Emma, 38, who also have two-year-old Elliot, have their sight set on the future, continuing to make The Pack Horse a great place for locals and foodies. They both want to continue growing the business - and potentially more places to open - and Luke would love to do more television and county fair appearances.

‘The important thing for this year is to keep going. It’s not been easy, and we just want to keep pushing forward with our brilliant team. We’ve had such a fantastic time of it so far. Hard work of course but so rewarding. And who knows maybe one day, if I go on television, I might get to use that drama degree,’ he laughs.

The Pack Horse: A Journey Through the Seasons is a 264-page hardback and retails at £35. Available from The Pack Horse, and bookshops including Waterstones, and Amazon.

Great British Life: The Pack Horse: A Journey Through the SeasonsThe Pack Horse: A Journey Through the Seasons (Image: Meze Publishing)

Luke’s top Derbyshire spots

The Blind Bull, Little Hucklow: We have a great working relationship with Mark Aisthorpe and his team – I have a huge amount of respect for what they are doing.

Lovage, Bakewell: A great little place for that something that little bit different.

Hyssop and the Hare: A fabulous café and restaurant, which also used to have a little deli, which are brilliant. They’ve had a hard time after their restaurant, Hyssop, was destroyed in a fire and they are determined to keep producing great food. A brilliant couple.


Great British Life: Wild garlic soup Wild garlic soup (Image: Dan Burns)

Wild Garlic Soup recipe


Ah, those early spring mornings in the forest, what joy they bring. You smell it before you see it: slender leaves of bright green wild garlic. This delicious edible wild plant, in season from late February to April, appears on our menu every year. The intense smell makes it impossible to mistake for anything else. When foraging, ensure you only take the largest leaves and never a whole plant.


100g unsalted butter

10ml vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

4 large potatoes, preferably Roosters or Maris Piper, peeled and diced

1.5 litres vegetable stock

200ml double cream

300g wild garlic leaves, washed

Sea salt


Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, thyme and bay to cook until soft.

Add the potatoes to the pan along with the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft and yielding.

Pour in the cream and bring to the boil. Add the wild garlic to the pan and stir in for around 2 minutes, allowing it to wilt without losing its vibrant green colour.

Blitz the soup until smooth, pass it through a fine sieve to ensure a silky texture, then serve topped with a little extra cream and some chiffonade of wild garlic leaf, with warm bread on the side.


Great British Life: Curried goat pie Curried goat pie (Image: Dan Burns)

Curried Goat Pie recipe


This was one of our Covid-19 comeback dishes, as well as part of our Pack Horse At Home boxes which we provided during lockdown. I have James Whetlor to thank for this, for introducing me to a sustainable meat that we should all be eating more of, and for pointing me in the right direction when it comes to cooking it well! James left River Cottage to set up Cabrito Goat Meat, an ethical meat company which puts billy goats born into the dairy industry back into the food chain. His work has transformed the industry and our consumption of goat meat, and it’s a pleasure to play a small part in that.


500g pie pastry (I recommend hot water pastry – this can be found elsewhere in the book)

2 egg yolks, beaten

For the marinated goat

1.2kg diced kid goat

250ml plain yoghurt

3 cardamom pods

2 cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

For the curry sauce

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

Stalks from 15g fresh coriander

50g unsalted butter

1 tsp curry powder

½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp tomato paste

400g tinned plum tomatoes

Rapeseed oil


For the marinated goat

Lightly toast the cardamom, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander in a frying pan until aromatic, then leave to cool.

Mix the diced goat with the yoghurt, toasted whole spices, paprika, salt, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

For the curry sauce

Heat some oil in a pan and then add the onion, garlic paste, ginger paste, and coriander stalks. Cook slowly until soft, then add the butter, curry powder and garam masala. Cook for a further 10 minutes before blitzing to a rough paste and turning the heat right down.

Preheat your oven to 240°c. Spread the marinated goat meat out in a couple of roasting tins and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Transfer the hot goat meat along with all the marinade to the pan of curry sauce, turning it through the blitzed paste and butter. Add the tomato paste and tinned tomatoes, then rinse the tin with a splash of water and add it to the pan.

Cook on a very low heat for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking and stop anything burning on the base.

Lightly grease a 20cm pie tin with butter and roll out your pastry to 3mm thickness. Lay the pastry into the tin, pressing it gently into the sides all the way around. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190°c. Fill your lined pie tin with the curried goat and top with a pie lid rolled out from the remaining pastry. Crimp the edges, then brush the beaten egg yolk over the lid with a pastry brush. Place the pie in the preheated oven to cook for 30 minutes, then it’s ready to serve.


Great British Life: Chocolate fondant, blackcurrant ripple ice cream Chocolate fondant, blackcurrant ripple ice cream (Image: Dan Burns)

Chocolate fondant, blackcurrant ripple ice cream recipe


This was the dessert which toppled our chocolate delice from the menu. It comes from the mind of our sous chef, Pedro, who had wanted to do a fondant since joining us. When we had a sudden burst of blackcurrants from our neighbour’s garden one summer, everything just fell into place. Summer is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to great British fruit and they all make a great pairing with chocolate, so feel free to change up the fruit in your ripple ice cream. The perfectly melting middle of a chocolate fondant is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and I hope this recipe gives you as much joy to make and eat as it does for me.


For the blackcurrant ripple ice cream

250g blackcurrants

½ lemon, juiced

150g caster sugar

200ml whole milk

300ml double cream

3 egg yolks (60ml)

For the chocolate fondants

100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

100g good-quality dark chocolate

Cocoa powder, for dusting

2 eggs 2 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

2 tbsp coffee liqueur

80g plain flour


For the blackcurrant ripple ice cream

Make the ice cream the day before serving this dessert. First, you’ll need to make a blackcurrant compote. Place the blackcurrants, lemon juice and 50g of the sugar into a saucepan. Gently heat until the fruit begins to break down and gets a little sticky, then leave to cool in the fridge.

Place the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 100g of sugar. Pour the boiling cream into the bowl, whisking continuously to combine.

Place the ice cream mix back into the saucepan and cook to precisely 82°c, then pour into a suitable container with a lid. Leave to cool overnight, then churn in the ice cream machine first thing in the morning. While still a little soft, fold in the blackcurrant compote, then transfer to the freezer.

For the chocolate fondants

Preheat your oven to 160°c. Lightly grease six ramekins with a little unsalted butter and then liberally sprinkle with cocoa powder. Place in the fridge while you prepare the fondant mixture.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and place a mixing bowl over it with the butter and chocolate in.

Melt while stirring continuously and then remove from the heat, stirring until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thickening. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture, followed by the liqueur and flour. Stir thoroughly to remove any lumps.

Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins and bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Once done, carefully turn out the chocolate fondants onto warm plates, using a knife to run around the edges and loosen them. Serve immediately, with a dollop of the ice cream on the side.