Manchester Photographer, Jonathan Pow

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  • Editorial Photographer (My work for publications, magazines and newspapers)
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Food Photography with Hot Rum Cow

Food photography, especially editorial food photography, is not without it’s challenges. The hunger, the focus, making sure you’re always ready to photograph something before it melts. No props were used in this photography, it’s as life presented it, no fake ice cream or treated salmon, just good wholesome food.

For my Press Clippings archive, this shoot was for Hot Rum Cow Magazine. You can read the article on their site here – http://www.hotrumcow.co.uk/liquid-lunch-northcote-lisa-allen/?hvid=62uqHP [Opens in a new window]

 

Or, if that link isn't available, you can click here to read it from my archive

Liquid Lunch with Lisa Allen

Northcote’s Lisa Allen takes to the kitchen with the best drinks the White and Red Rose Counties have to offer

WORDS: Chiara Pannozzo PICTURES: Jonathan Pow

Friday, February 6, 2015

Creative careers are often built on natural talent. Those of us that are good with words write. If you can create the right strokes with a paintbrush, you might become an artist. And if you can take a selection of humble ingredients and transform them into something sublime, chances are you belong in a professional kitchen. Head Chef of Northcote, Lisa Allen, married this raw talent with drive and serious determination to secure her place as one of the UK’s leading chefs.

“At school I always enjoyed the more practical subjects like woodwork, art and cookery. Food gave me a real lease of life, as it was something that I not only loved but I was good at it. I found I could really express myself through food, which gave me a burning desire to see how far I could go with it – I’m a very determined person,” Allen says.

Whilst studying catering at Lancaster and Morecambe College, Allen sought out work experience in high-end and Michelin-starred restaurants in order to develop her potential. “Whilst I was at college, I did a lot of work experience at the Michelin-starred Holbeck Ghyll and I also spent some time at Sharrow Bay. At that point I was trying to get as much work experience as I could in order to enhance my prospects.”

“Food gave me a real lease of life, as it was something that I not only loved but was good at”

The time Allen spent at these restaurants ignited her passion for fine dining. “I really latched onto the idea of working with food in that way. It gave me an inside burning and a drive that I couldn’t ignore.”

Allen’s experience then led her to work at the now two Michelin star Le Champignon Sauvage, where she stepped into the role of Commis Chef when she finished college. “It was an incredible place to learn as David Everitt-Matthias (owner of Le Champignon Sauvage) is so passionate and he has this incredible ethos around food. I learned so much about food here and it was a real turning point for me as I could see the journey you could take food on,” Allen says.

After working under David for a year and a half, Allen moved back to the Lancashire area and took up the position of Demi Chef de Partie at the Michelin-starred Northcote, which is owned and managed by Chef Patron Nigel Haworth and Director of Wines Craig Bancroft. At Northcote, Allen’s career progressed rapidly: “Nigel and Craig have such a great ethos around food. They have always been very encouraging of me as a chef, and helped me to get to where I am today.”

In fact, Allen’s talents were so well encouraged that within two years of working at Northcote she was promoted to Head Chef. She was just 23 years old. “I’m a really driven person and Nigel and Craig have always given me something to drive towards. They’ve built up an incredible business here and it’s been great to be part of that for the past 13 years. It’s helped me to grow as a person: learning how to develop and teach people and progress my skills. It’s what’s kept driving me forward.”

“Nigel and Craig have such a great ethos around food. They have always been very encouraging of me as a chef, and helped me to get to where I am today”

The Nothcote prides itself on its commitment to using local produce,  which as Allen points out, makes a huge difference to a dish: “There is nothing better than using food that is in season. If you get something that is ripe and in season, it’s at its best, and so ultimately you will be able to create better dishes with it.

“With the seasons, the flavours change. So they are much heartier in the winter and much lighter in the summer. Whether it’s cold outside or light outside, all of these things should influence your dishes. It’s one of the most creative things about being a chef, using your knowledge of classical flavours and putting a twist on them.”

The idea of using locally sourced, seasonal produce at Northcote is sacrosanct: “We have built up a fantastic relationship with suppliers across the area. What some family-run local businesses are producing is very dynamic and some of the things that they grow and produce are fantastic.

“When you’re cooking, it’s not just about one individual person, but it’s about the team of people around you and then, ultimately, it’s about the suppliers that produce the elements you need to create an incredible plate of food. If they didn’t do it to their best potential to get you some fantastic ingredients, then you couldn’t cook Michelin-standard plates of food, so it’s really important. And the better you get to know a supplier, the stronger the relationship becomes and you can ask them to grow something in a different soil or hang meat a bit longer. A lot of different things become available to you when you build up a network of reliable suppliers,” says Allen.

The standard of Allen’s food has seen her win a whole host of awards across her career, and cook for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall following her triumph in the BBC’s Great British Menu in 2010. With so many awards under her belt, how does she maintain that standard year in, year out?

“It’s all about doing things to your best potential and staying driven and focused. You need to believe in what you are doing, keep pushing the boundaries, keep learning, keep changing and keep sharing your knowledge with other people. And you need to evolve – that’s what keeps you motivated.”

 The drinks

Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin

Traditionally distilled using the London dry gin method in a small copper alembic still, Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin uses Harrogate spring water and juniper from the distillery’s own juniper bushes. Combined with citrus elements and secret botanicals, this 42% ABV gin has a distinct and unique flavour.

Bowland Brewery’s Sky Dancer

Bowland Brewery’s Sky Dancer is named after a local mating ritual whereby the rare male hen harriers, found in the Forest of Bowland, dance in the sky. Sky Dancer is a 4.5% ABV refreshing golden ale, which pours pale orange in colour and has soft citrus and peach flavours.

Rudgate York Chocolate Stout

Brewed in the Vale of York with a 5% ABV, Rudgate’s York Chocolate Stout is a rich, full-bodied premium stout, which pours a dark ebony colour. It is a balance of complex flavours and has a warm, subtle chocolate finish.

 

For starters

Dandelion and Burdock lollipops

Allen boils Dandelion and Burdock cordial with lime juice, water and Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin. She then pours the mixture into moulds and places in the freezer. When they are semi-frozen, she inserts the lollipop sticks. Once they are completely frozen, Allen rolls the lollipops in crushed dandelion and burdock sweets and non-dissolving icing sugar. Allen recommends enjoying the lollipops with a Gin and Tonic.

The main course

Barbeque ‘beer can’ chicken with winter slaw and loaded potato skin

Allen marinates a chicken in mustard powder, muscovado sugar, malt extract, chilli powder, salt and Bowland Brewery’s Sky Dancer golden ale for 24 hours. After that time, she pours more of the ale into a beer can holder, places the chicken on top and roasts in the oven for around 40 minutes. Meanwhile to make the loaded potato skin, Allen roasts a potato in the oven, before scooping out the inside, coating the skin in butter and placing it back in the oven to crisp up. Whilst the skin is in the oven, Allen adds butter, milk, crème fraiche, chives and salt to the potato filling and mixes well. This is then spooned into the crispy skin, to be served alongside the chicken. Allen also serves a slaw with the dish, which comprises sliced carrot, onion, white cabbage and red cabbage. The dressing Allen uses for the slaw is a mix of mayonnaise, crème fraiche, French mustard, chives and salt. To serve, Allen plates up the chicken with some slaw and garnishes with pomegranate seeds and watercress. To wash all of this down, Allen suggests a light ale.

Dessert

Autumn poached pear, chocolate mousse, honeycomb and chocolate stout ice cream

After peeling wax-tip pears, Allen hollows out the bulbous part and poaches the pears for 15 minutes in Rudgate’s York Chocolate Stout, cloves, bay leaf, juniper berries, cinnamon, orange peel, orange juice and soft brown sugar. To accompany the pears, Allen makes a chocolate mousse, which is piped into the hollow pear just before serving. She also makes a stout ice cream, using the same stout, which she serves alongside the pears and the mousse, and tops with honeycomb.

 

If you need a food photographer, with an eye for editorial, please get in touch. My email is jp@jonathanpow.com & mobile is 07901 617571

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