The Freemasons in Wiswell launch Mr Smiths, a new chef’s table experience and luxury rooms on site

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 July 2019

Steven Smith

Steven Smith


Super chef Steven Smith is cooking up something new at his Wiswell pub, the current holder of Lancashire Life’s Restaurant of the Year

Being able to put 'award-winning' before the title of your business can make a real difference - just ask Steven Smith, chef patron of Freemasons at Wiswell. The pub, which is tucked away in a pretty corner of the Ribble Valley, has often been named among the nation's best. It's the current number three in the prestigious Top 50 Gastropubs lists, and Steve is also its current Chef of the Year. The Freemasons has also received accolades from the Great British Pub Awards, a top 20 ranking at the National Restaurant Awards and is a former winner of the AA restaurant of the Year.

But despite the national acclaim, Steven says his win at last year's Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards is among his proudest moments.

'It's the one people want locally,' said Steven who collected the Restaurant of the Year title. 'It can have a really positive effect on your business. It's a magazine that is well read and trusted with its recommendations for food and drink. The national accolades are good but to be recognised as the number one dining spot in Lancashire was truly an honour.

'All of the Freemasons team are proud to represent the county. We want to do well in Lancashire and winning an award gets more people through our doors and takings go up. Our main objective is to provide a memorable gastronomic experience and this award demonstrated we're making an impression.'

This year marks a decade since Steven first opened the doors at Freemasons at Wiswell, following stints at Stanley House and Gilpin Lodge. It is fitting, in this milestone year, that the chef owner has launched a new dining experience and added much in-demand luxury rooms to the Freemasons stable.

At the time of going to press, he was due to launch a new chef's table experience including the opportunity for up to ten diners to eat at a large, handcrafted oak table in the kitchen, a smaller kitchen bench in the thick of the action, as well as masterclasses and the chance to be a chef for the day. On July 4th new luxury rooms will be opened, too, providing accommodation at the popular pub. But while all the new experiences are important for Steve, it is his new dream state-of-the-art kitchen that represents a real turning point.

'We'll be providing a chef's table that will be unlike any in the UK,' said Steven, who is also an ambassador for Marketing Lancashire's Taste Lancashire campaign to promote food from the county.

'Guests staying in the new rooms will have their breakfast in the kitchen, all in a communal space, you can read the paper and watch your breakfast being prepared while chatting with other guests. It's going to be special.

'For a chef, it's an amazing thing to be able to design your own space, I can't wait to use it. This is going to help us push forward and develop and perfect what we already do.

'I'm aiming to be the best pub in the world. I want there to be a legacy. I think we're about 30 to 40 per cent of the way there in terms of what I set out to do ten years ago. There is a lot more to come.'

The annual Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards rewards shining stars of the region's dining establishments for their hard work, dedication and exceptional food and drink. Guests will again gather for a night of fun and drama at Ribby Hall on October 14th.

Our judges are currently busy secretly visiting local restaurants and bars in search of those places that put Lancashire on the culinary map. We've also had help from you, our loyal readers, with nominations across all categories. Two categories for Family Dining and Outstanding Customer Service Awards will be decided by you.

'The Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards are the highpoint of the county's food and drink calendar,' said editor, Paul Mackenzie. 'They are a way to throw the spotlight on the importance, excellence and diversity of the region's hospitality industry.

'From Michelin star venues who have won national plaudits to those hidden gems just as deserving of recognition, Lancashire Life is proud to celebrate what a wonderful food and drink county this is.'

And to purchase tickets for this event or enquire about sponsorship opportunities, visit or email

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