Chef’s Table: Michelin-star chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen talks Royal Ascot and her comfort foods

The Tempus Chef’s Table series meets Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who makes her debut as one of the chefs in residence at Royal Ascot this year, to chat comfort foods

Lisa Goodwin-Allen Royal AscotLisa Goodwin-Allen is a decorated Michelin-starred chef. But now she can add one more title to her list of accomplishments: chef in residence for Royal Ascot. Lisa, who heads up the Michelin-starred Northcote Restaurant in Lancashire will be making her debut at the Royal Ascot this year, which is being held from 18 to 22 June.

Lisa will be taking over the Queen Anne Enclosure’s flagship fine dining restaurant, ON 5. Alongside her, chefs Raymond Blanc OBE, Tom Booton and Simon Rogan have also taken up the mantle of chefs in residence for the racing event of the year.

We caught up with Lisa Goodwin-Allen for the fifth instalment of our Chef’s Table series to discuss what we can expect from the Royal Ascot kitchens, her love for British cuisine and her favourite comfort foods.Royal AscotYou head up the Michelin starred restaurant Northcote Restaurant. What sets your restaurant apart?
We’re a modern British restaurant, but we change our gourmet menu depending on the seasons — so it changes four times a year. Our lunch menu changes every four to six weeks to reflect modern British cookery with seasonal local ingredients and flavours.

How would you describe your style as a chef? What do you want your guests to experience?
I think people tend to interpret a modern British take with the food that we make. Sometimes I step into these nostalgic memories or traditional things and put my twist on it, my knowledge of new techniques. But the most important part is the reflection of flavour. For me, the flavour does all the talking.

You will be making your debut as one of the chefs in residence for the Royal Ascot. Can you talk to us more about that?
I’m incredibly excited. I’ve always been a big fan of the Royal Ascot, the Royals and the racing aspect of it. It’s always something that I was inspired to do, which is to be a part of Royal Ascot. It’s such a prestigious event that Her Majesty used to do. And now, obviously, King Charles III has taken over the reins of it and I’m just delighted to be able to showcase myself at Royal Ascot.What do you like most about Royal Ascot? What are you looking forward to the most?
It’s just a collection of people and it’s such an enjoyable event — the racing, the spectacular course — all the people that gather together to celebrate this. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. I’m super excited about looking at cooking for all the people that have booked into the restaurant overlooking the race course. It’s spectacular.

What makes a Royal Ascot meal stand out?
Luxury. You’re at such a luxurious, prestigious event, and for us to showcase that through the food that we’re producing — from the quality of the ingredients sourced to the flavours — I think it really sings away.

What is your ultimate comfort food?
To be honest with you, my guilty pleasure is tinned tomatoes on toast with a little bit of salt on top. It’s a little bit soggy and crispy at the same time. Apart from that, because we have a nine year old son, we also cook a lot of traditional foods at our home like cottage pies. Quintessentially traditional British comfort foods.

Why is this a comfort food to you? Do you have any special memories associated with the dish?
The tinned tomato dish is special to me because it just brings a smile to my face and brings a sense of comfort. As for the cottage pies, it’s something I remember when my mum used to cook when I was young.

Don’t ask me what she would put in it — usually everything that was on the top shelf! But it was delicious every time. And I think that is something you can turn to when you’re having a hard day or just want something comforting.Do you have any tips for our readers attempting to recreate this dish?
I think my best advice would be to try and make it your own comfort food. Everyone has recipes that they can follow, but you can always add in different flavours or different things that you like, whether it’s changing the protein or using a spice or taking something out if you don’t like it. Recipes are recipes, and then you make them yours, and I think that’s the beauty about sharing.

With your comfort food, have you found ways to elevate it to a fine dining level over the years? Or is it best enjoyed in its most classic form?
I think it’s probably best enjoyed in its most classic form, but having said that, you can change it by using different proteins and meats… and you can do different things at different times of the year, like a little chicken pot pie or a venison one. When the rich, luxurious meats are in season, there’s lots of different things you can do.

To know more about Chef’s Table and chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen’s cooking heroes — including the best meal she’s ever had — subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the Tempus Edit, here. And read other interviews in our Chef’s Table series here.

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