Steven Smith departs the Freemasons at Wiswell

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Chef Steven Smith departs the Freemasons at Wiswell

Related tags Steven Smith Lancashire Freemasons at Wiswell Ribble valley Gastropub

Steven Smith has left the Freemasons at Wiswell after 15 years as chef patron.

Under Smith’s tenure the Ribble Valley pub has been a fixture on the Top 50 Gastopubs list,​ placing as high as number three in 2020. 

It has also appeared within Restaurant’s​ list of the top 100 places to eat in the UK.

A representative for the Freemasons at Wiswell confirmed Smith’s departure and said that the kitchen would continue to be led by head chef Matt Smith, who returned to the venue two years’ ago after a brief spell away.

“The long term private owners of the Freemasons decided they needed previous head chef Matt Smith back at the front of the kitchen operation, for the quality and consistency of the food required, as we are about to embark on the next phase of our room expansion to add to our existing bespoke offering,” the representative said. 

It is understood that the venue - which is just south of Clitheroe - will continue in much the same vein, offering both tasting menu and a la carte.

Speaking to Restaurant​, Smith said his time at the pub restaurant had “naturally come to an end” and that he was hoping to launch a new venture in the area.  

“I’m going to have a bit of time out but I’m actively looking for the next project,” he said. “I have build my reputation around here so it would be silly not to stick around.

"I’m looking for a pub site but I would not rule out a restaurant. The venue will dictate the style of food but whatever direction I go in it will be the best it can possibly be.” 

Smith is known for his eclectic and hearty cooking with dishes including foie gras with beer vinegar, blackberry and smoked eel; and roast loin and kofta of Nidderdale lamb with BBQ gem lettuce, miso aubergine, mint and yoghurt. 

Alongside its more high-end offering, the Freemasons at Wiswell also has a programme of more casual gastronomic events including summer barbecues and fish and chips nights.

In 2019, Smith launched Mr Smith's,​ a 10-cover communal table within the pub that offers a more 'top-end and involved experience'.

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