Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge is a familiar face. He first appeared on our TV screens in 2009 in the Great British Menu for BBC Two, where he won the main course and cooked at the banquet for Prince Charles and Camilla.
The author of numerous cookbooks, he has also hosted Saturday Kitchen and presented Bake Off: Crème de la Crème as well as fronting his own TV shows including Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food and Fresh Start.
Pub in The Park, a food festival hosted by Tom, takes place in eight different locations around the UK.
In 2005 Tom opened The Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. It became the first pub to receive two stars in the Michelin Guide in 2011 – an accolade that it still holds today.
The Coach, which he opened in Marlow in 2014, received three AA Rosettes within its first year of trading and was voted third best pub in Britain by the Top 50 Gastropub Awards.
In 2017, Tom opened The Butcher’s Tap, a fully operational butchers and pub under one roof, and last year he opened Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, his first restaurant in the capital at Corinthia London.
Later this year, he’ll be launching his first restaurant in Manchester at the new Stock Exchange Hotel.
So what can we expect from the new Manchester restaurant? We went to Marlow to meet the man and find out his plans. And to try some of that famous Michelin starred pub grub, of course.
The eagerly-awaited Stock Exchange Hotel will open in Manchester on 15th November 2019 as a member of Relais & Châteaux, an association of 580 unique hotels and restaurants throughout the world owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.
The heart and soul of the hotel will be a restaurant and bar overseen by chef Tom, housed under the magnificent dome which, for decades, was the trading floor of the Stock Exchange.
Why did Tom want to come to Manchester – and specifically to the Stock Exchange, a hotel owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs?
“Well, I’ve been a United fan since I was a small boy,” he laughs.
“My wife is from north Staffordshire, so we’re up north quite a lot seeing family. We know Manchester and its food scene very well.”
So what does he make of Manchester’s current culinary offering?
“Manchester has one of the most exciting and talked about food scenes in Britain right now, and there’s a real focus on just creating great food,” he says.
“When Gary first spoke to me about the restaurant, the first people I called were Simon Rimmer, Will from Hawksmoor and Gary Usher. And they all said it’s such a lovely city and so friendly. They were like, ‘come and join the party’. We can’t wait.”
Where does he like to eat in the city?
“Hawksmoor is just fantastic. They source great products and cook them perfectly, and they have really nice, friendly smiley people who serve it to you. And what Gary Usher does with his bistros is just amazing, and he really cares about the guests and his staff. He’s so inspiring to young chefs and restaurateurs. I love Kala.”
Speaking of restaurants, will the new Stock Exchange opening be similar to any of Tom’s existing operations in Marlow or London?
“It’ll have the same DNA as all of them, the same warmth. We focus on hospitality rather than just chef-focused food. We want people to feel comfortable. And flavour-wise, we’re not trying to do anything ground-breaking or new. We’re just trying to celebrate great produce and lovely people.”
We tried several dishes at The Hand & Flowers to get an idea of what’s to come, including an incredible buttery omelette with smoked haddock and Parmesan which “might make an appearance on the breakfast menu in Manchester,” says Tom. Fingers crossed, as it’s absolutely delicious.
As is a plate of crisp lamb toast with haggis, ‘lamb ham’ and fresh peas, and a jaw-droppingly light black cherry soufflé with salted almond custard and dark chocolate sorbet.
Menu-wise, the Manchester offering will be similar to lots of things at Michelin starred The Coach, says Tom, where we try some similarly impressive dishes. It’s pub grub, yes, but not as we know it.
A chicken kiev was crisp and golden outside and tender and garlicky inside, with a bowl of fat chips lovingly made by someone who really cares about chips. An elegant, aromatic tomato salad showcased the best of the season’s produce, while a proud pile of profiteroles encouraged satisfied sighs from diners.
“Some of the dishes will transcend,” says Tom. “We’re not necessarily looking at doing a Coach in Manchester, but we are looking at something similar in terms of sizes and pricing.
“It will be separated into starters, mains and desserts, but it will be flexible, too – you might want to order, say, two starters or two mains. It’s kind of the next progression of what we already do.”
We hesitate to mention the dreaded M word, but is there any pressure on Michelin starred Tom when it comes to Manchester and its all-elusive star?
“There’s a standard and a level of food and service we want to offer, and if that works for guide books then great,” he says. “But the most important thing to us is the guests.”
The Manchester restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, like The Coach, as well as offering bar snacks in between. But it will differ in that Manchester diners will be able to book tables in advance. The Coach is walk-ins only.
And one of the key things Tom cares about, as well as the guests, is his staff, with many of his brigade of chefs and front of house having been with him for years. Some of them will be making the move to Manchester, but he will also be recruiting locally.
How much time does he expect to spend in Manchester himself?
“Probably quite a bit. As often as possible, really,” he says. “We’ve got family up there, of course.
“And I just love Manchester. It’s such a warm and friendly city. We’re so looking forward to it!”
So are we, Tom. Roll on November.