Stosie Madi

Stosie Madi

Running a kitchen almost single-handedly is an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially when producing food at the level Stosie reaches. That’s why, at the beginning, it was seriously disheartening to see an empty dining room. ‘I always want to use the whole animal – it’s what they do in Spain, Italy, China, India and everywhere I’d travelled. But when I put things like mutton pies with mutton fat pastry on the menu, or offal or even fish on the bone, people were horrified. I couldn’t understand it – the whole notion of not wanting to eat something because it had the head attached or because the bone hadn’t been removed was completely alien to me and everything I’d known growing up.’

With an initial lack of local support and no footfall to speak of being in a rural village, Stosie decided to turn to social media to try and get the message out. Slowly but surely, customers began arriving. ‘We weren’t in any of the guides, so people just didn’t have a clue we existed,’ she says. ‘Twitter was becoming a thing, so I just started to take pictures of what I was cooking on my phone and posting them online. I’d offer customers a ‘Tweet Treat’ if they shared photos of their meals, too, which was a free bowl of my potato scratchings. It started working really well.’

Using social media was a huge boon for Stosie and the Parkers, and once people found out about the quality of the food on offer, they began travelling from across the country to get a table (winning the locals around in the process). Stosie is still an ardent user of Twitter and Instagram (‘although Twitter has changed a lot and it’s a bit scary now – it’s full of maniacs and you can’t say anything without someone being offended!’) but the pub now gets the recognition it deserves, placing in the top ten of the Top 50 Gastropubs and held in high regard by everyone from Michelin-starred chefs to local diners after a pie and a pint. While the menu was originally Lancastrian through and through (everything was sourced within thirty miles of the pub to keep costs down), it’s now got exciting flecks of international flavour throughout – think Lebanese-spiced partridge with pickles and flatbreads, curried mutton pasties and Texan-style brisket.

The Parkers Arms is like nowhere else – a prime example of a country inn creating incredible plates of food that feel both hyper-local and international at the same time. You can really feel the work that’s gone into building it into what it is today the moment you enter through the front door, and by the time you’ve eaten Stosie’s food, you’re already planning your return. ‘I didn’t get into cooking because I had nothing else to do or any other options – I chose to do it because I love it,’ says Stosie. ‘Taking a fillet or a lamb chop or a prime piece of fish and serving it with some sauce is easy ­– using the things that nobody wants and doing something great with them is the difficult bit. But that’s the style of cooking I love.’

Three things you should know

The coronavirus lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 hit the Parkers Arms hard, but Stosie diversified by opening Parkers Pantry, selling pies, meals and other delicacies online.

Terroir and how the area something is grown or reared in can impact its flavour is hugely important to Stosie, and she believes Lancashire is home to some of the best ingredients in the UK.

Stosie’s daughter Laudy is a tour de force in hospitality in her own right, rising through the ranks of Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume restaurants to become the restaurant manager of Aulis Hong Kong.