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Eight Michelin Stars Confirmed For NRB 2015

Organiser Thom Hetherington on the North's biggest hospitality show and what to expect from the MCR scene this year

Written by . Published on January 27th 2015.

Eight Michelin Stars Confirmed For NRB 2015

"HE's a big strapping 'Boro lad with a 1980s heavy metal haircut," beams NRB organiser Thom Hetherington about the trade-show's brightest, most hirsute but least familiar chef. "He cut his teeth at NOMA and is producing the most brilliant and delicate modern cuisine in Leeds."

"It’s hard to predict the future without echoing the same old macro-level 'Big In 2015' memes; more veggie main courses, premium fast dining, Peruvian cuisine, kale.. or is it cauliflower now?"

Hetherington speaks of Michael O'Hare, the head chef at Leeds' new mysterious and achingly trendy 40-cover fine-dine restaurant (the chef's wear £200 pointy Jeffrey West shoes in the kitchen apparently - where's elf'n'safety, eh?). Chef O'Hare's looks lay somewhere between Bungle and the blonde one from Spinal Tap; he currently has gourmands like Hetherington weak at the knees.

Bungle is one of a haul of superstar chefs to take to the stage at this year's Northern Restaurant & Bar Show 2015 at Manchester Central (17-18 March) - with over 250 exhibitions and more than 50 tastings, talks and demos it's the UK's largest non-London food and drink trade-show (yes that means you Peter Public can't go - but hold fire there's some good stuff 'ere).

Michael O'HareMichael O'Hare

Over the course of the two day event, O'Hare will appear on the 'Chef Live' demo stage alongside triple-Michelin starred Spanish chef Nacho Manzano (the bloke behind the menu at Spinningfields new Iberica restaurant; main image), two-starred Michael Wignall of Surrey's famed Latymer restaurant (and now, oddly, Hotel Football) and Northcote's one-starred Nigel Haworth.

Who else? There's Simon Shaw, currently moving his Yorkshire tapas success story, El Gato Negro, to Manchester city centre, and Geordie chef Kenny Atkinson who scored Michelin stars at both of his previous restaurants and is now heading the same way with his own effort, House of Tides, up in Newcastle.

There's more chefs to be announced too...

NRB Show, Manchester CentralNRB Show, Manchester Central

A bumper year then for NRB '15, but then, you'd expect it to be, Manchester's food and drink scene is rampant.

Thom, you must be rubbing your hands...

TH: "We’ve been cheerleaders for the strength and depth of the dining scene in Manchester and the wider North for over fifteen years now. It’s wonderful that the rest of the world seems to be starting to agree."

With the success of the NRB show so entwined with the health of the industry, do you worry this surge will tail-off?

TH: "It’s a question I get asked on a regular basis. There will be ebbs and flows but I think the underlying trend for more people eating out in Manchester is going to continue upwards.

"There are three main drivers for this. Firstly, there are more people regularly eating out, it's a changing cultural dynamic. My kids have eaten in more restaurants by the age of eleven than I had at 25.

"Secondly, Manchester's city centre population alone has risen from around 500 in 1990 to more than 25,000 in 2015, and they're mostly DINKYS - double-income no kid couples with money to splurge on food.

"Thirdly, and most importantly, is tourism. In the 80s Manchester had almost no tourism, now we're the third most popular destination in the UK for overseas visitors and catching second-place Edinburgh fast."

Thom Hetherington (right) with Living Ventures chief Tim BaconThom Hetherington (right) with Living Ventures chief Tim Bacon

In which case, where does the Manchester scene go from here?

TH: "It’s hard to predict the future without echoing the same old macro-level 'Big In 2015' memes; more veggie main courses, premium fast dining, Peruvian cuisine, kale.. or is it now cauliflower? Or kalettes? Who knows...

"Probably more instructive is to look at what Manchester needs, the quickest win would be more dining pubs to complement the Chophouses and Beef and Pudding and the rest. I’d love to see something like Parker’s Arms in Manchester.

"I like the trend for 'taverns', stretching back from Danny Meyer’s seminal Gramercy Tavern in New York to Jason Atherton’s hot ticket Berner’s Tavern in London.

"Aside from that I’d like to see French provincial bistros done right, and more Chinese places that combine authenticity with a modernist approach, my dream arrival would be Hakkasan."

I must ask... what of Michelin this year?

TH: "Of course that's the big Gallic elephant in the room. I'd like to see a Michelin star in Manchester in 2015. Ideally two. People say it doesn't matter, and of course it doesn't immediately make restaurants any better just because they have a star.

"But that is to misunderstand the importance of Michelin to the city's reputation and profile, particularly with affluent international travellers, and they in turn bring huge economic impact that helps sustains more and better restaurants, which then drives more tourism, and so on and so on.

"A star for Manchester would help complete that virtuous circle."


Chef (alive or dead) you'd most like to have demo at Chef Live...

TH: "Well we’ve had some pretty big names cooking for us, from Raymond Blanc to Marcus Wareing, but we also got my personal cheffing hero, Shaun Hill, now of The Walnut Tree, in some years ago. He’s a brilliant cook and a lesson to everyone who wants to make it in the restaurant world.

"Otherwise I’d have loved to have had Keith Floyd up, I watched one of his old programmes over the weekend and it reminded me quite what a compelling and fascinating presenter he was.

Any chef who needs only a first name introduction: Jamie, Gordon, Heston – as their mega profile would sell the show out in a heartbeat so I could nip off to the pub with Keith."

Northern Restaurant & Bar (17-18 March) at Manchester Central forms the hub of Northern Hospitality Week (NHW) which includes: the NRB Debate, NRB Top 50 Awards and Action Against Hunger’s Too Many Critics charity dinner at Hawksmoor.

For more information visit www.northernrestaurantandbar.co.uk

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