THE Northern Restaurant Bar show (March 19-20) doesn’t have to justify its existence. Each year at Manchester Central it generates a massive buzz about the healthy state of the hospitality industry in the north.
Still, on the eve of the latest instalment off the biggest such trade exhibition outside London, it’s good to be bolstered by fresh statistics revealing the food and drink scene in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds city centres has increased by an average of over 19 per cent while London recorded barely a third of that growth.
The figures have been compiled by The Core Cities Group, which monitors the rate of openings and closures in these four cities plus Edinburgh. Longer term Manchester headed the list with a 22.3 per cent net increase in the number of city centre food and drink venues between 2013 and 2018.
Thom Hetherington, CEO of NRB, said the findings reflected the ambition and confidence of the region. “Obviously we’re based up here so we’ve seen the development first hand, but it’s been clear that the epicentre of the Northern food and drink scene has kicked on at an unprecedented rate of knots, with a direction and velocity of travel which has left other regions trailing in its wake.”
Taste of Manchester's own on the ground gauging of the feelgood factor is tempered by the number of enterprising indies who have gone under or are teetering and the indifferent quality of some corporate chain arrivals. Naming no names.
NRB19 will provide an opportunity for operators, suppliers and industry figures to meet, speak and do business. From Liverpool to Leeds, the North east to North West and the Lake District to the Peak District. There will be 280 plus exhibitors and 65 live food and drink demos.
Of course, food and drink is also about powerful personalities and this is reflected at the NRB both in the outstanding credentials of the demo chefs and the star names passing on their wisdom in the expert panels and debates.
Headline guest at this year’s Bruntwood Debate on Tuesday, March 19 is Jason Atherton, who has established a global restaurant empire since stepping out of the shadow of mentor Gordon Ramsay. For full details of all the expert talking shops check out our ToM preview.
Equally impressive, the 12-strong ‘Chef Live’ line-up over the two days is a roll-call of today’s most influential kitchen movers and shakers across the North and each will be sharing some of their culinary secrets across an hourlong demo.
Tuesday, March 19, it’s the turn of Alisdair Brooke-Taylor (above) of The Moorcock Norland, the 2019 Good Food Guide’s ‘Newcomer of the Year’; Michael Wignall, Michelin stalwart now reviving the Angel at Hetton near Skipton; Mark Birchall of two-starred Moor Hall near Ormskirk, Manchester’s own Adam Reid from The French; Stosie Madi of the Parkers Arms gastropub outside Clitheroe; and Josh Overton, making waves at Le Cochon Aveugle in York.
Wednesday the 20th brings Liverpool groundbreaker Anton Piotrowski of Röski; Mary-Ellen McTague of Chorlton’s unique The Creameries; Shaun Rankin of Grantley Hall, North Yorks; Tom Parker (above) of The White Swan at Fence, near Burnley, recently awarded a Michelin star; Masterchef 2015 winner Simon Wood (of WOOD in First Street); and Mai Trising, Essential Cuisine NW Young Chef of the Year runner-up.
The Bruntwood NRB Debate starts at 12pm on Tuesday March 19. Tickets are priced £55+VAT (£66) and include a buffet lunch. Free trade only tickets to Northern Restaurant & Bar 2019 are available via the website. Our main picture is the rooftop view from 20 Stories, one of the high profile success stories of contemporary Manchester.