Meet The Chef: Steven Smith

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We spoke with Steven Smith, Head Chef of the Freemasons at Wiswell to learn more about his career highlights, tips for aspiring chefs and ‘familiar but innovative’ cooking style. Keep reading to find out more about the chef behind the Lancashire pub – which came a coveted fourth in this year’s Top 50 Gastropubs and was awarded No.1 pub in the Good Food Guide 2017…

What inspired you to become a chef?
I’ve always had an interest in food and used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I was younger. There’s a chance to really make your mark in the sector if you go hard and that really inspired me as I felt I had a lot to give.

Tell us more about your culinary background…
I worked in a number of different restaurants at the start of my career and in 2009 I took over The Freemasons at Wiswell. We really hit the ground running and have won awards every year over the last seven years, which is a true testament to the hard work the team has put in.
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What has been the proudest moment in your career?
There’s quite a few to choose from but I’d have to say being No.1 Pub in the Waitrose Good Food Guide for the last three years in succession is at the top of the list.

If you weren’t a chef, which career would you like to pursue?
I can’t ever remember not wanting to be a chef, there’s never been another career which has sparked my interest!

What is your favourite midnight snack?
Have to say, it would be a pint of beer!

Do you have any tips for aspiring chefs?
It’s important to stay grounded, work hard and have a good attitude. Don’t be too eager. Put in the hard work first and you’ll get the rewards.

How would you describe your style of cooking?
I think people would define my cooking as familiar but innovative at the same time.

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What provides you with inspiration for the dishes on the menu at The Freemasons at Wiswell?
It’s all about where we are. The pub itself, Wiswell village, Lancashire and indeed the North West. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, there’s so much to take inspiration from!

Do you have any role models?
My role models have changed over the years. When I first started out, it was Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay but as time has gone on, chefs I admire include the likes of Sat Bains, Brett Graham and Tom Kerridge. But they are more chefs that I admire as oppose to role models as such. We try not to model ourselves on anyone, we’re doing what we can to create a unique environment at The Freemasons.

What food takes you back to childhood?
That’s an easy one – beans on toast!

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