• Manc founder of one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants joins NRB Debate

Manc founder of one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants joins NRB Debate

8 March 2018 by Neil Sowerby

A FORMER waiter in Croma Pizzeria now co-founder of one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is a headline act at the upcoming Northern Restaurant Bar trade show in the city.

Stockport’s Johnny Smith, whose Michelin-starred The Clove Club inside London’s Shoreditch Town Hall stormed into last year’s list at No 26, the UK’s highest place, is taking part in the Bruntwood NRB Debate panel discussing how technology is both aiding and disrupting hospitality.

The annual debate is taking place on Tuesday, March 20 and features an array of top food and drink operators and commentators.

Quite a step up from doling out the topped crusts on Clarence Street or DJing in Odd and other NQ bars. Indeed it was musical ambition that led to Johnny and pal Daniel Willis to relocate to the capital, but fate had other plans for the duo, 

After getting involved orchestrating supper clubs they went on to found The Clove Club in 2013 with former development chef at The Ledbury Isaac McHale, its star arriving a year later, then modern Italian Luca.

Johnny told us in advance of his back home appearance that technology had been key to their success. “The Clove Club itself was launched using crowdfunding, a route which simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, and we have always kept up with technological changes throughout our venues. It doesn’t detract from our commitment to food and service, it simply allows us to deliver our diners’ experience more efficiently.”

This year’s debate will again be sponsored by Bruntwood, whose properties across Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham, house an array of leading operators. One of their latest developments is ‘Hatch’, a unique retail and leisure space supporting new ideas in food, drink and style. 

The Bruntwood NRB Debate will be headlined by Fred Sirieix (check out Matty White's Fodder interview with him), general manager at Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows and maître d’ on Channel 4’s First Dates. Fred will address how while technology is important, hospitality is fundamentally a people-led business, and human interaction, particularly front of house, will always remain key. Fred is no stranger to the North of England restaurant scene, having recently finished filming ‘The Million Pound Menu’ in Manchester.

NRB18, the biggest trade show of its kind outside London, is at Manchester Central on Tuesday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 20, hosting 275 exhibitors and delivering 65 live food and drink demos. Here's the chef line-up. Free trade only tickets are available now here. The Bruntwood NRB Debate starts at 12pm on the Tuesday and includes a buffet lunch. Tickets are £55+VAT. Book online at nrbdebate.co.uk