Million Pound Menu returns to our TV screens this week. The new series, hosted by the world’s most famous maitre d’ Fred Sirieix, has been filmed in Manchester’s Corn Exchange.

Once again budding restaurateurs will be vying for life-changing sums of investments in the food concepts they believe will be the next big culinary hit.

The first series of the BBC show, filmed in Spinningfields, saw two budding restaurateurs who thought they had what it took to go from pop-up to profit compete each week for life-changing sums of money to turn their dreams into reality.

Photo: BBC/Electric Ray

Their food, service, team management and brand potential were ruthlessly scrutinised before they took part in tense one-to-one meetings with potential investors to prove their business plans and financial figures stacked up. Think MasterChef meets Dragons Den.

It led to six different offers, including the one million pound backing of fine dining restaurant, Epoch.

The second series sees a different selection process for budding restaurateurs, says host Fred Sirieix.

“We have invited a selection of operators to come and present to the various investors who are interested,” he told us while filming the new series back in October.

“Then there’s the opportunity for them to come and cook and present themselves for questions.

“At the end of that process, which lasted for three days, we selected six operators and we’ve invited them to come to Manchester to run a pop-up for two days.”

Amongst those pitching in the first episode is 36-year-old Ed Farrell, who thinks the UK public is ready for an all-duck concept, The Duck Truck. A former new product development manager for Gressingham Foods, Ed is after £250,000 to take The Duck Truck and his signature traditional crispy duck wrap – rotisserie cooked crispy duck, hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onion in a toasted tortilla wrap – into a casual restaurant setting.

Going up against Ed are couple Lee Johnson and Sinead Campbell, both 35, whose food van, BBQ Dreamz, is taking the street food scene by storm, and Ranie Sirah, 46, who decided to pursue his passion for cookery after his young son suggested he do something he loves.

Photo: BBC/Andrew Hayes-Watkins

“It means everything to some people, and we have a huge responsibility,” said Fred.

“It’s daunting for them to be on television – but it’s not just about that. These people have real lives and they want to get a real investment for their business. It’s their first bricks and mortar.

“It’s fascinating to see how they will translate their vision into reality, and in a venue they’ve never been in before. It’s a bit like matchmaking, with a venue and an operator.”

And what does the maitre d’ make of Manchester’s restaurant scene?

“The restaurant scene is booming in Manchester,” he believes.

“Places are opening everywhere. It seems like Manchester is a party place. People like to go out, they like to drink and to eat, to talk. It’s very social. And when people are social, they like to go out.

“I love Manchester. I love the people in Manchester. Everybody says hello, everybody smiles, everybody seems to be in a good mood. In Manchester everybody talks to you.”

The new series of Million Pound Menu starts on BBC Two on Tuesday 8th January at 8pm. 

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