James Martin started his culinary career in London under the guidance of chefs including Antony Worrall Thompson and Marco Pierre White, and travelled around France working in chateaux kitchens and gaining experience in Michelin star establishments. He became a head chef before his 22nd birthday.
A famous TV face, James spent a decade presenting Saturday Kitchen on BBC One, attracting over 3.5m viewers. He’s toured the UK, America and France (in Keith Floyd’s car) for shows. James Martin’s Saturday Morning is shown weekly on ITV. And he’s also published 20 cookbooks.
But now, he’s not the only famous face in the kitchen at James Martin Manchester.
Chef de partie Exose Lopo-Ndinga, who trained at South Trafford College, is currently on TV wowing judges and critics alike on hit BBC talent show MasterChef: The Professionals.
Following a knock-out cherry soufflé, the 22-year-old was described as “cooking at a calibre and a level that seems far beyond what you’d expect from someone of his age.”
It’s the second time Exose has appeared on a national TV cookery competition, having also been on Channel 4’s Bake Off: The Professionals earlier this summer. Along with head chef Doug Crampton, who has worked alongside James Martin since the restaurant’s launch in 2013, it makes for a winning team in the kitchen.
And if you want to try the accomplished dishes for yourself, there’s no better time than now, thanks to a new Christmas menu at James Martin Manchester. Mouths watering, we went to try it.
The seasonally changing menu gives top billing to ingredients from renowned UK butchers, fishmongers, game dealers, farmers and cheese makers.
And that’s evident right from the off, with a caramelised onion velouté.
Rich, soft and comforting as a cashmere blanket, the shimmering broth comes with a sticky onion compote and a rarebit made with Quicke’s award-winning cheddar. It’s an excellent start.
It’s followed by a beautifully presented smooth confit duck terrine, served with salt-baked beetroot.
Each mouthful is full of the Christmassy flavours of mulled wine and star anise, with fresh fig and black radish adding texture and crunch.
A glossy, plump little duck fat brioche sits alongside, golden and salty with a sunny quenelle of butter. Who knew bread could be such a star?
Charred cod loin is an elegant yet hearty main, sat on a cassoulet of smoked mussels and white beans with braised fennel and sea herbs.
But no Christmas menu would be complete without turkey, of course.
Here, it’s a succulent roulade of free-range meat with sweet-sharp cranberry and orange stuffing, served with refined Christmas classics: pigs in blankets, fragrant anise-braised carrot, and maple glazed piccolo parsnips.
Roast potatoes are crisp and golden outside and fluffy within. Gravy’s rich and glossy.
And what about pudding? MasterChef fans may have high hopes following Exose’s cherry soufflé with pistachio crumble, sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet and a sour cherry sauce which wowed the top national critics.
Well, you won’t be disappointed.
A mince pie parfait is a fun new take on a classic, served with a vivid purple mulled berry sorbet, huge plump fresh blackberries and bee pollen shortbread.
Christmas is a time for feasting. And at James Martin Manchester, you can do it in style.
Find James Martin Manchester at Manchester235, Watson Street. Lunch Wed-Fri (1pm – 4pm) is £25 for two courses / £30 for three courses. Dinner Mon-Thu is £30 for two courses / £35 for three courses, and on Fri-Sat is £40 for two courses / £45 for three courses.