The Talented Chefs Behind The Best Restaurants in Cumbria

Situated in the northwest of England, Cumbria boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes in all the UK, attracting millions of visitors to the region every year. Not only are visitors drawn to Cumbria for its natural beauty and world-famous hiking trails, but restaurants in Cumbria and the chefs behind their genius menus, celebrating the very best of local ingredients, are pulling in a whole new demographic of visitors to the county and we are absolutely here for it!

The rural county of Cumbria hosts the most Michelin star restaurants in the UK, leading the way in British gastronomy and positioning Cumbrian restaurants at the centre of the foodie map. You can read more about the many Michelin star restaurants in Cumbria on our blog.

In this post, we will introduce you to some of the award-winning chefs and culinary wizards behind some of the best restaurants in the Lake District and Cumbria. From the head chefs of Michelin Star restaurants in the Lake District and gastropubs in Cumbria to faces you may recognise from critically acclaimed TV cooking shows, Cumbria is a region of culinary diversity and prestige.

1. Simon Rogan – L’enclume, Cartmel

Simon Rogan is perhaps one of the most well-known chefs in Cumbria. Simon Rogan is an award-winning Cumbrian chef known for his fine dining restaurants in London, Hong Kong, Malta, Phuket and the quaint village of Cartmel in South Cumbria. In fact, Cartmel is where it all started.

Throughout his years at the top of British cuisine, Simon Rogan has achieved incredible success gaining three Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant in Cumbria, L’enclume. He opened Rogan & Co in 2008, a more relaxed restaurant and bar only a few yards away from L’enclume which was also awarded a Michelin star back in 2018.

At the heart of his ‘food to fork’ philosophy is Simon’s farm called ‘Our Farm’, located near both of his restaurants in Cumbria’s Cartmel Valley, which supplies of 90% of the kitchens produce.

2. Nina Matsunanga – The Black Bull Inn, Sedbergh

Born in Germany to Japanese parents, Nina Matsunanga and her partner James Ratcliffe now run The Black Bull Inn in Sedbergh, a characterful restaurant in Cumbria on the edge of the beautiful Lake District National Park. Nina’s pan-Asian and German influences are evidenced in all of her dishes, resulting in a menu that celebrates the finest local ingredients combined with globally inspired flavours, positioning the Black Bull Inn a restaurant in Cumbria that stands out from the crowd.

Nina Matsunanga has been nominated for several awards over the years, including being presented with Pub Restaurant Chef of the Year by the Craft Guild of Chefs. The Black Bull Inn has also secured a place in the Top 50 Gastropubs 2024, which will be finalised at the end of January 2024.

3. Ryan Blackburn – The Old Stamp House, Ambleside

Ryan Blackburn, chef patron at the Old Stamp House and Kysty in Ambleside in the heart of the Lake District National Park is passionate about creating food inspired by Cumbrian heritage. He is the third generation of his family to work in the hospitality industry and restaurants in Cumbria, and it’s abundantly clear from his menus that he is a passionate advocate of the county’s produce.

Ryan is Cumbrian through and through and his menus make good use of the county’s natural larder, showcasing the very best of local Cumbrian produce. Over the years, Ryan has received many awards including Cumbria Life Chef of the Year 2015 and in October 2019, Ryan and his team were awarded their first Michelin Star at flagship restaurant The Old Stamp House.

4. Chris Archer – Pentonbridge Inn, Carlisle

Chris Archer is head chef at Pentonbridge Inn, a delightful restaurant located in the north Cumbrian countryside, close to the Scottish border. Pentonbridge Inn is now one of the many Cumbrian restaurants ranking among some of the best restaurants in the UK after being awarded its first Michelin star in 2023 and it also holds three coveted AA rosettes.

Originally from East Yorkshire, Chris Archer trained at Winteringham Fields in Lincolnshire, a two Michelin-starred restaurant at the time. His first head chef role was at The Cottage in the Wood, near Keswick and he moved to Pentonbridge Inn four years ago playing a pivotal role in the recent successes of the restaurant.

5. Irini Tzortzoglou – Winner of Master Chef 2019

You may recognise Irini Tzortzoglou from Master Chef in 2019, where she went on to win the highly prestigious show. Irini lives in Cartmel, in south Cumbria, a small village renowned for its award-winning restaurants and world-famous culinary figures.

Since winning Master Chef back in 2019, Irini published a book ‘Under the Olive Tree (Recipes from my Greek Kitchen)’ in July 2020 inspired by the cuisine she grew up with on the island of Crete.

Today, Irini is very busy working in the UK and abroad as a guest chef, recipe developer, judge for the Guild of Fine Food, ambassador of Women in The Food Industry and Slow Food UK, instructor and also runs culinary retreats in Crete and Cumbria.


One thing is clear that chefs and culinary artists across restaurants in Cumbria share a common interest in utilising fresh ingredients from local Cumbrian suppliers. With a generous natural larder and some of the highest quality produce in the UK, it’s no wonder that the chefs behind some of the best restaurants in Cumbria are making the most of what this inspiring county has to offer.

Made In Cumbria showcase some of the best local food and drink suppliers in Cumbria including award-winning confectioners, bakers, butchers, brewers who continue to inspire the many talented chefs across the county of Cumbria.

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