New ‘Pavilion’ for Lisa Goodwin-Allen as Northcote celebrates the success of Obsession 24

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A major upgrade to The Stafford Collection’s Ribble Valley star has been announced at the same time as the property has released the 2024 line-up for its phenomenally successful Obsession festival.

A new single-storey ‘Pavilion’ is to be built in the grounds, to create a 48-cover ‘signature’ destination for Lisa Goodwin-Allen who took over from Nigel Haworth as Executive Head Chef in October 2017. Here, she “will continue to deliver the same… quality dining experience”, which will leave the existing dining room in the main house “having the flexibility to offer a broader dining experience”.

The new building – aiming for “a sense of theatre” will be a flat-roofed modern structure with floor to ceiling windows and a roofline below that of the main buiding’s ground floor to help preserve the view from the house of the Ribble Valley. Other investment by The Stafford Group will include upping the number of hotel rooms, a spa, private events space and training academy, all with the aim of “creat[ing] an iconic leisure destination with a strong local outreach and global recognition”.

All Eyes on Obsession 24

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A hefty half-a-million viewers feasted their eyes on behind-the-scenes films shot during Obsession 24, this year’s edition of the annual gastronomic festival hosted at this Lancastrian fine-dining hotel.

This vast social media audience joined the 1,754 diners who invested in tickets for the sold-out season, which ran over 17 consecutive evenings from 19 January to 4 February and featured 18 top-class chefs serving 105 different dishes accompanied by 85 matched wines and 576 bottles of Champagne from sponsor Louis Roederer.

In addition, over £110,000 was raised for charity, benefiting Hospitality Action, DEBRA (supporting people with the incurable skin disorder EB) and Eye Nepal (providing early years education in rural areas).

This year’s cohort of guest chefs was headed by Michel Roux, cooking the final night’s dinner with his daughter Emily (pictured together above), in a lap of honour coinciding with the closure of the family’s iconic Le Gavroche after 56 years.

Michel looked to the future in his valedictory message: “Seeing young talent coming through, achieving their goals and chasing their dreams gives me the most pleasure. There was a young man on the front of house at Northcote, only 16 years old, who wants to become the next great maitre d’. In the kitchen they have three young apprentices, and that is the future – that is what I’m going to miss most.

For several of the chefs, the invitation to Obsession was a highlight. Adam Handling, of Covent Garden’s Frog, said: “Since I was a young chef I have always wanted to come and do this, I really have. So to be able to come here and showcase what we do in London, it’s pretty cool.

Lisa Goodwin-Allen and her team, had to adapt to the demands of contrasting chefs every day of the festival, commenting: “I’m often asked how we manage to keep the energy levels high during Obsession, but when you working with chefs of this calibre every night is different, with different teams and personalities. It flies by, and it’s honestly a real privilege to be part of something so special.”

For the first time, Lisa’s Obsession menu will be available to diners at Northcote until April, comprising Champagne and snacks followed by five courses built around Scottish mackerel, veal sweetbread, wild turbot, squab pigeon and clementine.

This year’s international chef comprised Daniele Lippi of Acquolina in Rome, Henrique Sa Pessoa of Alma in Lisbon, and Alex Tsiotinis of CTC Urban Gastronomy in Athens. Closer to home were Alex Greene (ex-EIPIC, Belfast, now the Buck’s Head Inn, Co Down), Gareth Ward (Ynyshir, Wales), Tom Barnes (Skof, Manchester), Sarah Hayward (The Coach, Marlow), Adam Smith (Woven, Cowarth Park, Berks), Lorna McNee (Cail Bruich, Glasgow), James Knappett (Kitchen Table, Fitzrovia), Tom Shepherd (Upstairs, Staffordshire), Aktar Islam (Opheem, Birmingham), Harry Fitzpatrick (Trinity, Clapham), and Sameer Taneja (Benares, Mayfair).

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