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North star

Paul Askew, the London Carriage Works man with a Michelin star on his mind, is the North West's only winner at the Northern Hospitality Awards

Published on January 14th 2010.

North star

It's not quite The Big M, but it's an M just the same, and winning the title “Best Chef Mentor” out of the whole north of England (that's Lincolnshire up to Scotland) is keeping Paul Askew happy at the moment.

Amazingly, Paul, whose restaurant has seen Michelin inspectors circling seven times now - although the star still eludes it - was the only person in the entire North West to walk away with anything at this week's Northern Hospitality Awards in Manchester.

He took his award straight back up the M62 to Liverpool's Hope Street Hotel, home of the Carriage Works, to sit with the other gongs.

According to the citation, Paul “demonstrates commitment to his staff over a sustained period of time and manages to balance all his many commitments whilst still working with young chefs in the kitchen day in day out.”

Or, as he rather more succinctly puts it, “You spend 60-80 hours a week in the kitchen with the same people. You have to be a banker, a friend, a father and a psychiatrist all at the same time.”

Paul beat off competition in the category from chefs in Northumberland, Cheshire and Manchester. Marc Vérité at Southport's Warehouse Brasserie was also in the running.

Who's been saying nice things? Well it's an industry award, says Paul, but, on the quiet, Carriage Works' projects, like taking part a chef school for unemployed young people (one of whom has now joined the 40-strong kitchen team) and running cooking workshops in primary schools won't have done any harm, he thinks.

“This is an award for all of us,” says Paul, who told Liverpool Confidential that his own mentor was the head chef in an upstate New York restaurant where he once worked as a sous in the dim and distant past.

So there's nothing Gordon Ramsay-like, then, about the kitchen manner of Mr Askew, a man described by The Times as, get this, “a modest, genial genius”.

But you never know. Of the Ramsay style, he says: “It has its place and it's northing personal.

“There are times when the window of opportunity is about to pass and you've just got to tell people to get a f***ing move on. ”

Michelin, take note.

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