“Hospitality has been ignored by every government on the planet and I just don’t understand it.”

The Staff Canteen

Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Craig Bancroft discuss Craig’s forty years of service at Northcote, Obsession, and the pair’s longstanding friendship.

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen, Editor Cara Houchen was joined by co-host Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Executive Head Chef of the one Michelin-starred Northcote, and her guest Craig Bancroft, Managing Director of Northcote.

During the episode, the pair discussed everything from which actors would play them in a film about their lives, to how often you should use a towel before you wash it!


A legend within the industry, Craig is the managing director of the one Michelin-starred Northcote restaurant, located in the Ribble Valley.

Joining Northcote as General Manager in 1983, Craig has focused on creating an oasis of food and wine excellence with genuine service leading the business to flourish over the years, winning numerous awards and attracting guests from across the globe.

Lisa first met Craig at Lancaster & Morecombe College after Lisa was awarded student of the years, whilst Craig was an ambassador for the college.

“We had an outside catering company and we used to borrow the lecturers and students and they would come and do events with us, whether it was BMW or racing, and Lisa came along for the ride before she did her stint down in Cheltenham,” Craig revealed.

Talking about his first impressions on Lisa, Craig said: “Lisa was always hugely talent, but what I think has been amazing is they way Lisa has evolved her world because leadership qualities are one of her greatest strengths.”

“Lisa’s thing has always been growing people, trying to make the people who work for her better, working as a team player. At Northcote we have one great thing and that’s we’re one team, one dream. Lisa can’t do what she does unless the front of house do what they do. You have to attack it as a unified front, you can’t have a kitchen and a restaurant division, it has to be totally as one,” Craig added.


Lisa and Craig represent not just incredible industry talents but they are both face of their business, with Lisa having spent approximately twenty years at the restuarant, and Craig celebrating forty years with Northcote this year.

Craig began his career as a kitchen porter in London’s Kensington Close Hotel before undergoing training with the Trusthouse Forte International Management programme.

After working as a chef at Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris, which held two Michelin stars at the time, Craig held positions at Browns Hotel, The Westbury and Grosvenor House, alongside some more commercial experience at The Strand Palace, Regent Palace and The Cumberland, before arriving it Northcote where he and his team began transforming it into the prestigious boutique hotel it is today.

When asked if hospitality was an industry he always wanted to be in, Craig revealed during school he wanted to be a vet, after a particular encounter with his mother’s horse. “When I was at school I always wanted to be a vet but I didn’t have the brain. After castrating my mother’s horse in the field at home, I had to hold the bits whilst the vet the cut them, I thought this was quite exciting really!” revealed Craig.


Known as one of the most prestigious and internationally recognised gourmet festivals in Europe, Obsession is an annual festival bringing together world class chefs to cook at Northcote over 15 nights.

The festival sees chefs travelling from all across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland – from Edinburgh to Dublin, London to Newcastle and beyond – to cook their unique Obsession menus.

The event has taken off over the years being one of jewel’s of Northcote’s culinary offerings.

“It’s a drug,” explains Craig, when asked what keeps them coming back to the event.

"Every year we seem to keep getting better and better, and it’s one of those festivals where you're bringing some of the best chefs from up and down the country, or around the world, to little old Langho for people locally to experience, or people travelling to us, to really just create an obsession for food and wine,” explained Lisa.

“It’s 22 years of the history of gastronomy. It’s phenomenal, it’s an amazing thing and it has a life blood of its own really,” Craig said.

Over the year’s chefs including James Martin, Tom Kerridge, Angela Hartnett, Matt Abé, Monica Galetti and many, many more have all been invited to cook at the Obsession.

Describing her most memorable years of Obsession, Lisa said: “One time that sticks really sticks in my mind is when David Thompson came. When he came he gave everyone a masterclass in chillis. He explained to the guys, how they grow, the heat, how you can interpret them, what goes well in food. We get to a point where we’re trying these chillis, and he gives this lad the hottest chilli ever and immediately his face went straight away and he ran into the kitchen, drinking yoghurt and milk. There was stuff coming from everywhere.”


During the podcast, conversation turned to which individual they would have as Prime Minister, with Lisa putting Craig forward her option, with Craig announcing he would scrap inheritance tax and appoint a minister for hospitality and tourism.

Discussing the importance of hospitality on people’s lives, Craig said: “Hospitality has been ignored by every government on the planet and I just don’t understand it.”

“It’s an amazing industry, incredible people, it provides magic for every household that goes out to celebrate; whether it’s McDonalds, or going to a top restaurant, or a pizzeria, or Pret for lunch, or meeting your mistress in a café, whatever you do. Food, wine, hospitality delivers the world over and people should recognise it as a proper serious business and a great contributor to our economy,” he explained.

Craig’s support for hospitality mirrors the comments made by other professionals recently following the continued struggles between the industry, government and economic downturn.

Explaining the industry’s strengths and weaknesses for bringing about change, Craig said: “We are renowned for a self-healing resilient business. As hospitality goes, we know how to morph in a crisis, we switch out when a recession comes, we know how to deal with it, we know what to do.”

Sharing her thoughts, Lisa said: “I think it’s great that people are trying to get petitions out there to try get a buzz, but it is frustrating it keeps getting thrown back. I am believer that it will work eventually, but it’s about sticking together and what does hospitality do best? We’re a team.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th July 2023

“Hospitality has been ignored by every government on the planet and I just don’t understand it.”