Chef John Noon transforming the fortunes of the Horns Country Inn at Churchtown, Garstang

PUBLISHED: 00:33 06 May 2013

Goosnargh duck breast with a bramble sauce

Goosnargh duck breast with a bramble sauce

glynn ward

A chef who has worked in some of our top kitchens is back on home soil in Lancashire

Black pudding with a sweet potato fondantBlack pudding with a sweet potato fondant

John Noon is a man with a CV as big as the smile on his face. His career has taken him to some of the top restaurants in the country and he has cooked for a host of household names. But he’s now back where it all began, in his native Lancashire.

For the last couple of years, the lovely old Horns Country Inn at Churchtown, near Garstang, has suffered an undignified decline. But now, £370,000 has been spent to turn it into a smart dining pub and to make it work they needed an equally smart chef.

Step forward John Noon, who was brought up in Blackpool and then launched into a stellar career spanning 45 years. He trained at the Savoy and the Escoffier Institute in France and went on to work at The Westbury in Mayfair, where he was made chef de cuisine at just 26, and the famous Red Cube in Leicester Square, where he was executive chef.

During one of his occasional forays north he was a guiding light at Lancaster’s Ma Cuisine, which was awarded a Michelin star. As a result, John became the subject of a documentary on his career in Sky TV’s Dining Out series.

During his time, he has catered for The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Phil Collins, Jerry Springer and The Spice Girls and for Prince Charles’s Party in the Park after show party.

So why has he come to this relative backwater?

‘It’s a lifestyle change, as much as anything,’ he says. ‘The pressure of doing this job in London is intense and I felt it would be nice to return to a part of the world I know well.’

He and his partner, Jeni Perrins, are passionate about using locally sourced food. ‘We are not going for haute cuisine,’ added John. ‘We will be concentrating of excellent pub favourites with a twist – wholesome food and nothing frozen.’

Customers will find a menu with Pugh’s Piglets, which is on the menus of some of the UK’s best restaurants and gastro-pubs, Johnson and Swarbrick’s famous poultry and Dewlay’s cheeses, which have been winning awards for nearly 60 years.

They will also find a pub transformed from a bit of a wreck to a stylish traditional inn. Owners Star Pubs & Bars, Mitchell’s Brewery of Lancaster and John have managed to prevent the Horns going the way of too many of our pubs.

3 pubs transformed

The Red Pump

This pub was going nowhere until Martina and Jon Myerscough transformed it into a cosy country inn. Choose from very slow-roasted belly pork and a ballotine of Lancashire lamb confit with beignet of lamb haggis. The Red Pump Inn, Clitheroe Road, Bashall Eaves, BB7 3DA

The Cartford Inn

This award-winning country inn sits next to the River Wyre and is the domain of Frenchman Patrick Beaume and his wife, Julie. Great food served in relaxed surroundings. The Cartford Inn, Cartford Lane, Little Eccleston, PR3 0YP.

The Redwell

Sous vide flank of Littledale beef, local veal steak and kidney pie and the legendry ‘laggis’ – a Lanky version of haggis make this a mouthwatering experience at a inn which has its own smokehouse. The Redwell. Kirkby Lonsdale Road, Arkholme, near Carnforth, LA6 1BQ.

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