The pop-up restaurateur
For twelve rumbustious years, Lisa Chapman ran the quaint little fish restaurant, the Endeavour in Staithes, a lively neighbourhood restaurant where the local fishermen would knock at the door with their catch of the day: a wild salmon, a live lobster, crab, squid, octopus, langoustines and sea bass and Lisa would create a terrific menu that celebrated the best and freshest local seafood.
Locals and visitors packed the restaurant every night and it was listed by the prestigious Good Food Guide for eleven successive years.
But all that time running a restaurant on her own was enough and in 2001 Lisa sold up and moved on, intending to lead a less frenetic life. It never quite worked out that way because as Lisa admits: ‘Cooking is what I do.’ Working from her cottage in Hinderwell she set up a new business ‘To Dine For’, cooking for local events: family parties, funerals, birthdays and shooting parties.
For a time she ran a deli/café in Hinderwell and did summer and Christmas seasons in the Channel Islands as a private chef. One of her favourite gigs was cooking for guests on the Staithes Art School residential art weekends, preparing and cooking a three-course dinner over three nights for between a dozen and two dozen guests in the long dining room above the Staithes Gallery. ‘The people on the course love Lisa’s meals,’ says Alison Milnes, owner of the gallery. ‘The best moment is when they sit down and Lisa comes out of the kitchen and announces what’s for dinner. Such a great meal is so unexpected on a weekend that’s really about art.’
Today Lisa works as a private chef, supplying holiday cottages with home-cooked meals, and bespoke dinners. As she always has done, she sources prime local produce which means the best of the catch from Staithes, Sandsend and Whitby. She forages for wild garlic, blackberries, elderberries, chanterelles, sloes and medlars. Her menus often feature honey from the North York Moors, game from local shoots and inevitably fish. ‘People still bring me things’ she says. ‘A local fisherman knocked on the door the other day with a big box of mackerel because he knew I could use them’. She cured them Scandinavian style and served them with a dill potato salad and an onion and mango salsa.
If that sounds tempting, you can book Lisa as your private chef for a family party, celebration or reunion. Alternatively, she will stock your holiday cottage with home-cooked dishes (she always claims she’s a cook not a chef) or prepare full meals fresh or frozen for you to finish off.
In summer when there are lobsters landed at Staithes and Runswick, Lisa will prepare them fresh off the boat for your holiday cottage. Simply cooked and chilled with new potatoes and mayonnaise or grilled with garlic butter or push the boat out with a full-blown lobster thermador. They are just fabulous.
‘I often wonder why people like my cooking’ she says. ‘I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because they can sit down to an honest plate of food with friends and family and enjoy it without being in awe of it'.