Emma Mayoh

Cheshire Life - - Contents -

Food fa­natic and Cheshire Life Deputy Edi­tor, Emma, met Tom Ker­ridge to dis­cuss din­ing deca­dence in Manch­ester

‘YOU WALK INTO A SPACE LIKE THIS AND THERE ISN’T ANY AN­SWER BUT YES,’

beams Tom Ker­ridge, the all round su­per chef be­hind the two Miche­lin star Hand and Flow­ers in Mar­low and Ker­ridge’s Bar and Grill at Lon­don’s Corinthia Ho­tel amongst oth­ers. ‘I knew in­stantly I wanted to come here. I’ve been do­ing this for 28 years but this place re­ally stood out, it is very spe­cial.’

It was two years ago Tom first spoke with Gary about plans for Stock whilst the lat­ter was stay­ing at the Corinthia, the Lon­don ho­tel where Tom’s Ker­ridge’s restau­rant is lo­cated. Gary asked if Tom would take a look at the site with him.

‘You can’t help but fall in love with the drama of this place. But it’s also about Gary too,’ says Tom.

‘The bril­liant and beau­ti­ful thing about him is how he goes about his busi­ness. He’s a part of this city; he’s con­stantly giv­ing back and con­stantly try­ing to drive things for­ward to make Manch­ester bet­ter in so many dif­fer­ent ways. He’s given so much love to it.

‘Gary wants for this place to be a legacy, for it to still be go­ing when he’s long gone and I ab­so­lutely know he can do that. The great thing about him is he’s do­ing this ho­tel and think­ing how bril­liant it is. He knows when the prod­uct is right but he also doesn’t pre­tend he knows ev­ery­thing. Gary is an achiever and I have so much re­spect for him.’

The Bull & Bear will open its doors in a few weeks with a menu that smacks of Tom’s sig­na­ture style – those re­fined Bri­tish clas­sics. His first and, he af­firms, his only Manch­ester out­post, the restau­rant will be in the spec­tac­u­lar domed room, pre­vi­ously the trad­ing floor of the city’s for­mer Stock Ex­change.

Tom and his team will also be over­see­ing The Bank, of­fer­ing pri­vate din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and The Vault, ca­ter­ing for pri­vate events. Tom and his Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Dan Scott have cre­ated a menu that is in­flu­enced by The Coach, Tom’s sec­ond pub in Mar­low.

‘The Bull & Bear will be a bit of Mar­low up north which we can’t wait to share with Manch­ester,’ he said.

‘Our goal is to be some­where that peo­ple feel wel­come and looked af­ter while en­joy­ing some de­li­cious food – we’ll have won­der­ful tomato rel­ish from the fan­tas­tic Hawk­shead Rel­ish based in the Lake District. But if peo­ple re­ally want that well known brand of red sauce then they can have it. It’s about mak­ing ev­ery­one wel­come.’

There is an un­der­stand­able an­tic­i­pa­tion for The Bull & Bear’s launch. Tom’s re­cent pop-up restau­rant at Manch­ester Food and Drink Fes­ti­val – giv­ing guests a taste of what to ex­pect from Novem­ber 15th – was a hit. So­cial me­dia was flooded with ‘Tom and me’ self­ies fol­lowed by an avalanche of “he was so nice” com­ments.

But Tom is one of those uni­ver­sally adored peo­ple. Loved by chefs, food­ies and any­one you might care to meet on the street – even the builders at Stock ask him for tips on cut­ting out carbs and mak­ing tasty food. But it did mean that his vis­its to Manch­ester some­times re­quired stealth.

‘I’d be walk­ing in the build­ing and peo­ple would shout “are you opening here, Tom?”. It did make it tricky in terms of try­ing to keep things se­cret un­til we were ready to an­nounce.’

Tom’s pop­u­lar­ity is prob­a­bly, in no small amount, due to the huge in­vest­ment he puts in peo­ple.

It’s an ethos that has made Mar­low’s Hand and Flow­ers, The Coach, Ker­ridge’s and his sev­eral other busi­nesses in­clud­ing the Pub in the Park such a suc­cess. And it’s a for­mula he’ll be adopt­ing in Manch­ester – not only em­ploy­ing lo­cal staff, along­side his skilled Mar­low team, but also the sup­pli­ers they work with.

‘It’s al­ways about the char­ac­ters, the peo­ple, the sto­ries be­hind ev­ery­thing,’ says Tom. ‘And we have some great ones here in­clud­ing Pri­vate White who are mak­ing us the most beau­ti­ful aprons made here in Manch­ester. There are the Manch­ester brew­eries we’ll be work­ing with like Seven Broth­ers. It’s im­por­tant to tell their story as well as ours. I want to use prod­ucts from the area, em­bold­en­ing the com­mu­nity, the peo­ple, the space.

‘Th­ese are the places with a his­tory, a her­itage and those sto­ries that we can share. It’s that kind of car­ing busi­ness we love, they are re­ally im­por­tant to us. To just em­ploy peo­ple isn’t enough ei­ther. We want to look af­ter them and make them a part of our story.’

Tom is also keen to be­come a part of the city’s flour­ish­ing din­ing scene, work­ing along­side other suc­cess­ful restau­ra­teurs.

‘The Manch­ester food scene is in­cred­i­ble – and it keeps grow­ing,’ says Tom. ‘It’s prob­a­bly one of the most talked-about in the UK right now, the vi­brancy of it, the warmth that it has; it’s this bub­bly, buzzy food scene.

‘I spoke to a few chefs like Gary Usher when I was think­ing of com­ing here and they were so wel­com­ing. No hint of com­pe­ti­tion, just gen­uinely friendly. There is room for ev­ery­one. I love Gary and what he’s do­ing with his neigh­bour­hood restau­rants, he’s an ex­cit­ing chef and I have so much re­spect for him.

‘There’s a won­der­ful feeling about Manch­ester, I have a great af­fec­tion for the city. I find the peo­ple are al­ways re­ally warm. I don’t come from Manch­ester but I have been so wel­comed and I’m look­ing for­ward to be­com­ing a part of it.’

The Bull & Bear will have a menu that show­cases Tom’s sig­na­ture style

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