The Michelin stars of Lancashire and the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 October 2018
The Michelin judges have put Lancashire and the Lakes firmly on the UK's map of culinary excellence, writes Roger Borrell
A quite sensational performance by chefs in Lancashire and the Lake District has seen the region secure no fewer than nine precious stars from the Michelin judges.
This is the holy grail of culinary perfection and five dining rooms in our region now have one star while L’Enclume in Cartmel and Moor Hall in Aughton, West Lancashire, each have two. Once again, Manchester’s formidable battery of restaurants failed to get a mention.
Perhaps the most remarkable performance came from head chef Tom Parker and the team at the White Swan, a small pub in the village of Fence, near Burnley. Tom, who learned his trade in Nigel Haworth’s Michelin starred kitchen at Northcote, has had rave reviews from the critics and won the Lancashire Life Food & drink Awards soon after opening for what he describes as his ‘simple cooking.’ TV food critic Jay Rayner said of the menu: ‘Any right-thinking person would want to eat this.’
Tom runs the Swan with co-owner Gareth Ostick, whose wife Laura said: ‘We really weren’t confident. I suppose we had an inkling but it was still a huge surprise.
‘Obviously Tom is a wonderful chef but this was a massive team effort for a small village pub. I suspect winning a star means we are going to be very busy!
Mark Birchill, the man who secured a second Michelin star at Moor Hall, also paid tribute to Tom saying: ‘I’m so happy for him.’
Of his own achievement, Mark added: ‘We weren’t confident and there was a moment during the announcement that I thought we’d not got the star. The core team at Moor Hall were operating at the right level from an early stage so I felt we deserved the second award. But you can’t take anything for granted in this business.’
Mark has impeccable credentials as a top chef. He also worked at Northcote and was executive head chef at L’Enclume. He also won the Roux Scholarship, the premier competition for chefs in the UK in 2011, and worked at El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant twice named the world’s best.
Chorley-born Mark said: ‘Gaining a second star has only just sunk in – I get a lump in my throat thinking about it. I hope it helps to put Aughton on the map to attract guests from further afield. All this began with Paul Heathcote and Nigel Haworth whose cooking really made people look at what we have to offer in Lancashire.’
Moor Hall is a remarkable Grade II listed building dating back to the 13th century. It was bought by Andy and Tracey Bell in 2015 and they invested in a major renovation and refurbishment programme.
Meanwhile Northcote at Langho retained its Michelin star for the 23rd year running. This was a major achievement for the excellent executive head chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen in her first year in sole command since taking over from Nigel Haworth.
Further north, Forest Side at Grasmere retained its star thanks to the efforts of Kevin Tickle and the brigade while in Windermere, Gilpin Hotel’s head chef Hrishikesh Desai also had his star confirmed.
In the old Lancashire village of Cartmel, Simon Rogan’s culinary empire continues to set the bar high. L’Enclume, named as top UK restaurant four years running, retained its two stars while its neighbouring more casual offshot, Rogan & Co, secured its first star.