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Inside track: Joycelyn Neve reflects on Lancastrian perfection

29 October 2019 by
Inside track: Joycelyn Neve reflects on Lancastrian perfection

Lancashire has long had big names in the food game, from chef-restaurateurs like Paul Heathcote to great producers like Reg Johnson, but in recent years the county's reputation on the food scene has exploded.

The accolades and national recognition that exists is seriously impressive: Moor Hall regularly tops national best restaurant lists; and the Freemasons at Wiswell, the Parkers Arms, White Swan at Fence and our very own Assheton Arms all feature on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs 2019 list. For 2020, The Good Pub Guide listed the Assheton as its best dining pub and the Inn at Whitewell as its pub of the year.

Assheton Arms
Assheton Arms

This amount of national recognition has driven food tourism to new heights. With a notable increase in multi-night stays, dining with us and other great businesses on the same visit really adds to the experience for the guest and promotes Lancashire as a UK destination. They can come and stay with one of us, but take full advantage of a whole host of great dining experiences while they're here.

I can't think of a place outside of London that has such a concentration of awards and accolades. So why do we have this hub of great food and operators, not just in Lancashire but the whole of the north east?

Quality produce is an obvious reason. The land is green and lush from the generous amount of rain we receive, keeping the livestock happy and well fed. We've an abundance of great dairy producers on the back of this. We're on the coast – a coast with a great variety of fish species, that can be with you in hours. The entrepreneurial spirit that East Lancashire especially is well-known for has fused with this great produce on our doorstep and made great businesses out of it.

There's definitely something to be said for success breeding success. With so many good pubs and restaurants in Lancashire, that means we've all got to be on top of our game, and that means the service and quality of the food has to be the best. It's a great result for those of us living in the county and for visitors.

We have an incredible foodie community too, so while we might be competitors, the community of chefs, publicans and business owners in Lancashire is a great one. We want to see each other doing well and many of us are friends. A proper sense of food and drink community is part of our identity. Food and drink and hospitality is our hobby as well as our jobs, with days off often spent eating in our own places and each other's, sometimes together, because we like each other's company and we love each other's food.

We might be competitors but we're like-minded souls who love to celebrate each other's success. Lancashire was at the heart of the industrial revolution, and now it's leading a food revolution all of its own.

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