Anna Tebble is on a mission to find the best independent food spots in Manchester. Not just so she can indulge herself, although you can see the spark in her eyes when she admits she has always been a massive foodie, sipping a mango smoothie.
More than a recipe book, The Manchester Cook Book: Second Servings, part of the Get Stuck In series, is also a compendium of local success stories.
Eager to find new and exciting places, whether it’s fine dining restaurants, street food vendors, markets, delis or bistros, Anna says there is just something different about the indies: “They’re really passionate about what they do, they’re really engaged and they really know what they’re doing.”
“Every business will put in a recipe, but we’ll also we have a profile on them which will give some background, say why they set it up, what they’re passionate about, why they’re different to anyone else, why they’re so good, what their plans are for the future, what their business ethos is, and so on,” she says.
The book doesn’t only feature Manchester recipes. There aren’t enough to fill a book and it wouldn’t represent the city’s cosmopolitan character anyway, Anna explains.
“With it being such a diverse city, there are all these upcoming trends people seem to grab hold of and there’s so much creativity here,” she says.
“We’re literally spoilt for choice. You’ll find Italian delis in there, you’ll have gin bars, classic curries, all sorts. Traditional British fare as well as something that’s really contemporary. There’s a bit of something for everyone.”
While the first book was more about “getting to know Manchester”, the second edition will look at how the dining scene has evolved in the last year. “It feels like a whole new city,” says Anna.
“For example, the Victorian Chop House Company, they’re going put in a corn beef hash because that is what they are famous for,” says Anna. “Incidentally, after I had that I told them that their corn beef hash filled a hole in me that I didn’t even know existed.”
Of the 29 books Meze Publishing has produced since 2015, The Manchester Cook Book has been the bestselling so far. 7,000 copies were sold before Christmas, with reprints published shortly after. “We just had massive orders,” says Anna. “It was an immediate hit”.
It’s great for locals, says Anna, because “everyone is fiercely proud of where they’re from, especially Manchester, so it might be that they want the favourite recipe of their favourite deli that they always go to.
“But it’s also good for tourists, because it’s a good thing to pick up and say: ‘Right, I’m here for a couple of days, where’s a good place for brunch or a posh meal? Where’s a good gin bar?’”
Tourists aren’t the only ones who have been using the book for guidance and inspiration, Anna says proudly.
“Someone told me last year, ‘oh I know your book, I use it as a guide to the city. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m just ticking off places as I go to them’. She also said I managed to find places she hadn’t heard of. I thought, that means I did my job well.”
Anna admits she is constantly asking for recommendations from people. “I always say, ‘Where is good? Where should I be visiting and what should I have?’”
The second edition of The Manchester Cookbook will be published in time for Christmas 2018. If you want to suggest a place that should be included, contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org.