Many commentators have tended to fix upon the fact that Lisa Allen is one of only a handful female chefs to reach the top of her industry (Frances Atkins, Clare Smyth, Mary Ann Gilchrist and Angela Hartnett are other notable examples) with Allen herself admitting that, ‘(for women) it is quite a challenge’. The fact that Allen has prospered suggests that she possesses a great deal of spirit to go with an abundance of raw talent.
Yet, equal regard should be given to the fact that Allen was handed the position of Head Chef while at the tender age of 23, and after only a couple years of service at the restaurant – originally she had been employed as a demi-chef de partie.
Her mentor at the culinary institution of Northcote has been longstanding Chef Patron, Nigel Haworth, who saw the potential in her cuisine soon after she joined Northcote. The Lancashire-born pair enjoy a symbiotic relationship based on a shared interest in local produce and a love of the region’s cuisine,
‘We have a very honest relationship - Nigel trusts me, I trust him, we often ramble on about what we could do, how we could make something better’.
Her cooking is playful and like her mentor, Haworth, she twists the hallmarks of Lancashire cuisine to invoke new tradition. A great example of this can be seen from her appearances on Great British Menu, where in one memorable episode she reimagined Kendal mint cake (a confectionary item hailing from Kendal, Lancashire) as a delightful dessert, serving with strawberries and meringue.