What does Cheshire-grown saffron, Millstone cheeses and a Manchester polytunnel have in common? They’re all among answers given by three top Northern chefs as part of an interview looking at what it takes to run a successful restaurant in the North.
Adam Reid, Simon Couth and Alex Shaw have been quizzed by catering equipment supplier Russums on questions ranging from how important they feel new talent is for the industry, to what are the benefits of cheffing north of the Watford Gap.
About new talent, Adam had this to say: “[It’s] essential, it’s a labour heavy industry so without skilled staff there’re no restaurants, and with more restaurants opening there’s more demand.”
And he would know, running the highly successful and popular Adam Reid at The French in Manchester’s Midland Hotel, having taken it over from the renowned Simon Rogan.
Adam recently hit the headlines after beating a host of talented chefs in last year’s Great British Menu to present the dessert course at the final banquet, where he wowed the room with a deconstructed apple pie served in a golden, sugar-blown apple.
Simon Couth, who runs an experimental Peak District kitchen in between Sheffield and Manchester, hailed the quality of produce to be found in the North, saying he was lucky to have “the whole of Yorkshire as a garden to source produce from”.
And not just Yorkshire, as Simon’s Hathersage Social Club is actually situated in North Derbyshire (in the centre of a Stockport/Macclesfield/Sheffield triangle, though technically East Midlands) where he takes game from the nearby moors and seafood from the distant Yorkshire coast. This diverse range of ingredients is certainly needed for the club’s creative menu, which includes Aphrodisiac Suppers, Middle Eastern Feasts and Italian Cine evenings in the venue’s very own mini cinema.
Award-winning chef Alex Shaw says now, more than ever, fresh talent is vital to a sector that sees top restaurants with well-known chefs crying out for trained staff, especially Chefs de partie.
And exciting new talent is what Alex and his kitchen at the Eagle + Child in Ramsbottom is all about. As group chef, Alex takes young local talent, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, and gives them valuable experience in the kitchen of this highly-praised and acknowledged gastro pub.
He also finds sourcing local food as important as sourcing local talent, taking as much as possible from producers close to home. And close to home includes right on his backdoor step, as the Eagle’s beer garden only features edible plants that can be put on the menu.
John-Paul Marsden, Sales and Marketing Manager at Russums, said: “It is encouraging to see such a varied number of chefs out there offering diverse menus of such high standards. The North has always equalled any other part of the country for talent, and hopefully now chefs like Adam, Simon and Alex will help to bring Northern cooking the attention and respect it deserves.”
The UK food scene is clearly in good hands, with every region producing a high calibre of chefs and restaurants serving innovative and imaginative menus. But it is chefs in the North who often feel that they reside in the gastronomic sweet spot, surrounded by top producers and away from inflated prices, serving to discerning customers who know what they like and (reject style over substance)brook no [word for ‘lack of value for money’].
As Simon says: “There’s definitely something great about running restaurants up North.”
To read the full interview, click here.