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Manchester chefs reveal what they REALLY eat when they’re off duty


They spend hours toiling in the kitchen, creating culinary masterpieces for us. But what do the chefs at top Manchester restaurants eat when they get home, tired after a long shift?

From raspberry jelly and frozen chicken curry with mayonnaise to spam on toast and ham and ketchup butties, chefs at Manchester restaurants including The Bull & Bear, The French, MamuciumJames Martin Manchester, El Gato Negro, 20 Stories, Six By Nico, Kala and more reveal their guilty pleasures.

Spam on toast and pasty barms – Adam Reid, The French

Photo: Chazzquire/Wikimedia Commons

My guilty pleasure is spam on toast with ketchup and black pepper, although recently I’ve been harking back to my childhood of a pasty barm, preferably a meat and potato.

However, the quickly growing so called ‘northern’ bakers which have outlets popping up everywhere have decided that flavour is no longer worth producing… bloody southerners and their fancy flavours!

Chips and Club biscuits – Tom Kerridge, The Bull & Bear

Whilst I’m up in Manchester at The Bull & Bear, I don’t really have time or structure in my day to eat properly, so I’m normally eating chips and gherkin ketchup.

I stay at Hotel Football which, to my delight, have Orange Club Biscuits in the fridge that are complimentary to guests which is massively reminiscent of my childhood. Although these things aren’t necessarily very good for the diet.

Cheeseburger pizza – Jack Huxley, Kala

When I do decide to cook at home, I’m a cheese toastie kind of guy, but not just any toastie… I’m talking tuna and cheese, loaded with cheap gherkins, truffle oil and mustard. Sounds weird, tastes nice.

I’m partial to the cheeseburger pizza from Domino’s, too. I guess you could say I like gherkins.

Frozen curry and mayo – Benjamin Chaplin, 20 Stories

My guilty food pleasure would have to be a frozen chicken curry with pitta bread and loads of mayonnaise.

When I get home after a long shift, pushing the lever down on the toaster and pressing two buttons on the microwave is all the effort I can muster – obviously washed down with a glass of wine, of course.

Haribo – Doug Crampton, James Martin Manchester

My guilty pleasure food after a long service is a bag of Haribo. I don’t have a favourite – it depends on my mood.

Crispy chicken satay – Andrew Green, Mamucium

Away from the heat of the kitchen, I often turn to my guilty pleasure food: Chinese takeaway. Over the years I’ve tasted the majority of Stockport’s Chinese takeaways searching for the nearest thing to my go-to Chinese meal as a boy back in Glossop

My favourite dish back then, and still now, is crispy chicken satay with egg fried rice. The crispy chicken is done in a light batter that when fried literally makes the chicken melt in your mouth, and the spicy peanut flavour blends so well with the Asian vegetables.

I consider myself to be a bit of an expert now on chicken satay after trying so many versions, but even today I’ve not found one that equals my boyhood recipe. I’ll have fun looking. 

Jelly and ice cream – Mike Shaw, The White Hart Inn at Lydgate

I eat something savoury and finish with “bought in” Hartley’s raspberry jelly, Longley farm strawberry yogurt, and a scoop of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.

Ham and ketchup butties – Simon Shaw, El Gato Negro

Ham and tomato ketchup sandwiches, on buttered white bread. I’ve said it before but Frazzles are a great side, with everything.

Five Guys – Exose Lopo-Ndinga, James Martin Manchester

I always go back to the Five Guys burger. I’ve not had one for ages, and I’m missing it. I always get the double, with all the toppings.

When I used to work there I’d get one everyday, and people would say, ‘are you not bored of eating that every day?’ But, no. I love them.

Gammon and crisps – Carlos Gomes, Canto

When I’m off and feeling a little lazy I love nothing more than buying some pre-cooked slices of gammon from a deli counter, smothering them in sour cream and if I’m feeling really bad, throwing on some plain crisps, too.

Butter chicken – Haz Arshad, Mughli

For brunch, I layer up a toasted bagel with minced lamb curry with green peas, pickled onions and a sunny side up Clarence Court egg sprinkled with a little chilli powder. 

For lunch I get leftover karai chicken, add a touch of mayo, crushed black pepper and put it between two pieces of seeded brown toast with salted cucumber slices. Tell me if you’ve ever tried a better toasted sandwich.

But butter chicken’s got to top it all. It’s the original and best Indian comfort food: the perfect mix of cream, butter, smoky tandoori chicken, fenugreek and black pepper. What else would you want? Other than a fresh-out-the-tandoor garlic naan to mop it all up.

McDonald’s double cheeseburger – Sam Karle, Dakota Grill

A McDonald’s double cheeseburger with a banana milkshake after a stressful night. I pick one up every now and again on the way home.

Beans on toast – Nico Simeone, Six By Nico

A guilty pleasure for me is definitely beans on toast with Worcester sauce. There’s sometimes nothing better than the simplest food, this one is my real home comfort.

Pasta and wine – Jason Annette, The Ivy Spinningfields

I’ve been in this industry for thirty five years and have lived and breathed Italian food all my life, so this is definitely and will always be my guilty pleasure.

As a father of four children and a grandfather, my  wife and I have very busy lives, so for some time out we love to go to Sugo, which is definitely one of Manchester’s best restaurants. It has the best southern Italian pasta in this country by a mile.

If I want to kick back at home, a good bottle of Amarone and a leg of lamb will do the trick.

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