Steven Smith is the Chef Owner of the multi award winning Freemasons at Wiswell. Steven, born in nearby Blackburn, learned his craft in some of the North’s top establishments before going solo in this quaint Lancashire village and creating a true gastronomic experience in a stylish yet homely pub setting.
Steven demonstrates assured technique and innovation in his modern adaptation of traditional favourites. Steven says: “We believe this is how dining should be. There are lots of places in our region where you can go and eat good home cooking, and a few places where you can experience fine dining. We want to create an exceptional dining experience, but without being overly formal.”
Industry recognition was quick to arrive in 2011, with Steven’s Best Newcomer award in The Publican awards and Freemasons’ ranking in the top 15 gastropubs in the UK. He was invited to cook alongside some of the country’s star names at the London Restaurant Festival and was selected as one of eight ‘visionaries’ in the nationwide Great 8 series of charity dinners.
Awards followed one after another. From being named as one of the top five places to dine in 2013 by Waitrose Magazine, to winning its third AA rosette, to maintaining The Freemasons Michelin status, to being shortlisted for menu of the year in the Hotel & Caterer awards and personally winning the Acorn award that recognises excellence in the industry under 30, The Freemasons and Steven had the perfect platform to build on.
Recent years have seen the achievements continue to flow. In 2014, the Waitrose Good Food Guide named The Freemasons the UK’s best pub, as well as The Sunday Times placing it in their Top 100 Restaurants – a commendable accolade given only seven North West establishments made the list. The Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide 2015 selected Freemasons as one of the Inspector’s favourites, alongside only two other Lancashire restaurants.
Last year, Freemasons proved its staying power. Retaining its status as the country’s best pub in the Waitrose Good Food Guide for the second year running and being placed in Square Meal’s Top 100 Restaurants, the Freemasons’ accomplishments continue to accumulate.
Steven’s aim going forward is to continually improve the offering for his loyal diners and push the boundaries of modern pub food, making The Freemasons synonymous with excellence for both cooking and service. The Freemasons now enjoys welcoming diners from far and wide, who have travelled specifically to dine there, proving its reputation precedes it, a reputation Steven plans to continue to evolve and grow in 2016. Watch this space!