To say Lisa Goodwin-Allen’s career has been a success would be an understatement. At the ripe age of 23, she became head chef of the Michelin-starred Northcote Restaurant in Lancashire, which she joined at 20 as a demi chef de partie. Nearly two decades later, she has retained her rightful position at the Northcote, but also added a London string to her bow, overseeing The Game Bird and The American Bar at The Stafford as of 2021.
Londoners will be well aware of The Stafford, one of the capital’s renowned landmark hotels. Its flagship restaurant The Game Bird, which opened in 2017 with a thoroughly English menu, now has a heightened focus on seasonal British produce. Think pigeon pie (a personal favourite), venison, and lobster and chips.
Just down the hall, you’ll find The American Bar, where everything from the memorabilia-inspired interiors to the tasting menu pays homage to 1920s American cocktail culture. It’s one of the longest surviving American-style bars in London and, under Goodwin-Allen, it serves a number of comfort food favourites, from ribeye steaks to chipotle chilli dogs.
Goodwin-Allen (rather unsurprisingly) also has several accolades to her name. In 2011, she was named Restaurant Chef of the Year by the Craft Guild of Chefs. Last year, she won Chef of the Year at The Cateys, pegged as the Oscars of the food world. In November 2022, she was championed as Ayala SquareMeal Female Chef of the Year — an award that was founded five years ago to highlight the contribution women make to this male-dominated industry.
And her contribution is practically unparalleled. When it comes to food, there isn’t much Goodwin-Allen hasn’t done. Catered for royalty? Tick (she cooked for King Charles at a banquet in 2010, where she won him over with her wild rabbit and leek turnover with piccalilli). Retained a Michelin star? Easily done: she knew the Northcote through and through by the time its prized star was up for reassessment in 2018. Appeared on TV? Of course. Goodwin-Allen made a name for herself with her winning Great British Menu dish in 2010. In 2020, she returned to the competition for its Christmas special, taking home the top prize for three of six dishes to make the final banquet.
We caught up with Goodwin-Allen to discover what motivates her and her best advice for young, aspiring chefs.
Any award you receive is really special. It’s nice to be recognised among some exceptional talent in the industry. This award was reader voted too, so it means a lot to be recognised by those you have eaten your food, or respect you for what you do.
Winning Great British Menu in 2010 and getting the opportunity to cook for King Charles. Then also Winning Chef of the Year at The Catey Awards 2022.
My advice for any young chef would be that, if you have the passion, drive and hunger to succeed, you will. Be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge, skills and advice as you can from your peers. It will prove invaluable.
I love the creativity involved in putting together the menus and coming up with ideas that evoke nostalgic memories. I also truly love the hospitality industry itself. Not only can you learn a lot from others and travel the world experiencing different cultures, but you can make a lot of friends along the way.
For me, using seasonal produce is so important [because] it’s when you get the best flavours from the ingredients. Also, working with the seasons keeps you on your toes, continually having to develop your menu to keep it fresh and exciting.
The Game Bird Pigeon Pie is the most exciting dish on the menu for me, as we’re taking something quite traditional and humbling and elevating it.
A privilege and honour! My character is naturally driven and ambitious, so to have the opportunity to influence the menu of such a historic and renowned bar and raise its game is amazing.
We’ve discovered the roots of all parts of the USA, taking some of those traditional dishes and pulling on those flavours to give people a true sense of the culture and identity. The Jambalaya prawns are one of my favourite dishes served there.
Kiln (the Thai-inspired grill in Soho); Sabor (the Michelin-starred Spanish eatery in Mayfair best known for its tapas-style dishes and seafood plates); and Core (seasonal British dining by ex-Gordon Ramsey chef Claire Smyth in Kensington).