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Obituary: Chef Paul Arthur Mertz

Peter O'Grady, ex-proprietor, celebrates the Market Restaurant's big chef

Published on May 1st 2014.


Obituary: Chef Paul Arthur Mertz
 

IN THE DAYS before Restaurant Wars: the Battle for Manchester, and at a time that would have seen liquid nitrogen smoked out of the kitchen, good food existed in the city of Manchester.

The only time I ever saw Paul stuck for words was when one of his musical heroes, Ray Davies of The Kinks, came to the restaurant and performed an impromptu concert after his meal. 

One of the guys leading the way was Paul Mertz of The Market Restaurant.

Paul, who passed away recently, was a big chap with a gentle and very skilful touch. His skill was demonstrated in many great dishes over twenty years at The Market, from his asparagus and Parma ham wrapped in filo, a beautiful venison and chestnut pie or his profiteroles, so light they needed to be weighed down with cream and chocolate to stop them floating away.

Paul was so good that he was part of the very small team that saw The Market Restaurant awarded the City Life Manchester Food and Drink Festival 'Restaurant of the Year 2005'.

Paul was not only a gifted chef, he was also generous with his knowledge and time. Many customers of the Market trotted off clutching one of his hand written recipes, having discussed the dish with him post-service when he'd come out into the dining room for a (gallon) of beer or coffee and a chat with the diners.

Market Restaurant

Market Restaurant

He loved music and sport and would talk knowledgably for hours about football, cricket, rugby, tennis and the like. One of the great mysteries to me was how Paul could get so much enjoyment from listening to golf commentaries on the kitchen radio.

The only time I ever saw Paul stuck for words was when one of his musical heroes, Ray Davies of The Kinks, came to the restaurant and performed an impromptu concert after his meal. Paul was dumbstruck.

Still, his greatest love was always cooking.

The atmosphere in Paul's kitchen was the complete opposite of what you see on TV with the likes of Gordon Ramsay. He was known, however, to occasionally mutter an oath when asked to provide a customer with a glass of home-mulled wine in the middle of a busy Christmas evening.

Before starring at The Market Restaurant, Paul had spent time perfecting his craft under George, his mentor, at the Masonic Hall in Stockport. He also spent several summers in the kitchens of the Harbour Hotel in Abersoch.

Paul had a fantastic sense of humour. When Barry the Printer misspelt his name as Paul Mortz on a recipe leaflet, Paul immediately dubbed him 'Barney the Pointer' - a case of tit for tat typo wars.

If there is such a thing as the heavenly banquet – then there's now a truly great chef providing the feast. Thanks for everything Paul.

Peter O'Grady formerly Owner & Partner of the Market Restaurant in Manchester.

 Paul Mertz

 

Paul Mertz

 

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RedmondeveMay 2nd 2014.

RIP Paul, I had the honour to work with you for years and I learnt how to cook from watching you & talking to you, everything from making a roux to searing duck breasts. You were a great conversationalist and we had many laughs together x

AnonymousMay 5th 2014.

When I first moved to Manchester in 2003 the Northern Quarter was the Market restaurant. The Market had fine food and a beer list that the Port Street today would envy. This fella set the standard.

Maxine DoyleMay 6th 2014.

Peter, what a very true picture of Paul. I've been a friend of his since my days as landlady of the Hare and Hounds pub on Shudehill. He was funny, witty, knowledgeable, and a fabulous chef. I will miss him dreadfully — along with many more of his loyal culinary admirers.

AnonymousMay 7th 2014.

Rip Paul (my old mucker) I had the privilege to work next to you for many years we had great times you taught me everything I know you will be always in my heart. love Kathy

Margaret MertzMay 14th 2014.

Sleep tight Paul not only were you a fantastic chef you had a heart of gold you were loved by so many people & we will miss you so much Love you always Margaret

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