Chef Aiden Byrne launches 250 of the Most Influential People in Greater Manchester publication
For the third year running, MEN Media has produced a special publication, 250 Of The Most Influential People in Greater Manchester, in partnership with law firm Hill Dickinson
Top chef Aiden Byrne revealed his recipe for success as he helped launch our guide to Manchester's movers and shakers.
For the third year running, MEN Media has produced a special publication, 250 Of The Most Influential People in Greater Manchester, in partnership with law firm Hill Dickinson.
Covering sectors from sport to show business and property to politics, it aims to serve as a who's who guide for the region.
The magazine was launched at an exclusive event at restaurant Manchester House, which recently featured in TV documentary Restaurant Wars.
And chef Byrne, who was the youngest ever chef to bag a Michelin star at the age of 22, gave a cooking demonstration to guests, before speaking about his career and vision for the venue.
He told how he got into cooking at the age of 14 and, after leaving college, moved to London to learn the hard way from some of the country's top chefs.
Byrne, 42, said: "My first job was nothing short of pure hell.
"I got locked in a fridge and had to sleep in it because I was the only northerner in the kitchen."
Byrne is hoping to win a Michelin star for his work at Manchester House, a £3m restaurant created by Living Ventures, already behind some of Manchester's best-known venues.
And he said the eaterie is inspired by the city it takes its name from.
Speaking to M.E.N head of business Adam Jupp, Byrne said: "Yes, the TV programme bigged-up the fight for the Michelin star but what I would be extremely proud to do would be to bring a Michelin star back to Manchester but in a way that isn't expected.
"One of our main ethoses is that without Manchester, we haven't got Manchester House and it wouldn't exist.
"Manchester is notorious for the fact that, for some reason or another, it has supposedly snubbed fine dining and hasn't had a Michelin star since 1974. So, with that in mind, (Living Ventures boss) Tim Bacon and I really thought about what we need to do to change that model and we could have easily gone down the fine dining, stereotypical white table-cloths route, with French waiters in dicky-bows. But we decided to stay away from that.
"If you eat in here, you'll know that's not what Manchester House is about.
"From the waiters' uniforms, to the open kitchen and the way we approach everything, this restaurant is so far away and so far removed from everything fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants have been all about.
"So, in true Manchester style, we've tried to go against the grain and make a difference."
Ultimately, as Byrne explained, running a restaurant remains a business. A tasting menu at Manchester House costs £95 per person but only the finest ingredients are used. That means walking on a tightrope when it comes to ensuring the operation is profitable.
"Basically, we only use high-end produce and the reason we have this open kitchen is so that there are no smoke and mirrors and nothing is hidden," he says.
"This is a tough business and the margins are very small.
"In the nicest possible way, you've got to try to put that aside and focus on what makes people come back and that's giving them a quality product.
Byrne will find out later this year whether he has secured a star for Manchester House but said he main priority was making visitors to the restaurant happy. And he revealed who his biggest critic is - his wife.
Byrne said: "She has a great ability to stick me to the floor when I'm getting carried away with myself.
"She brings me back down to the ground and without her, I would really struggle."
The event was opened by M.E.N. Media managing director Steve Anderson-Dixon, who said: "This publication is truly a celebration of the people who have made the Greater Manchester region the great place that it is and what a wonderful venue for our launch - Manchester House - home to talented, creative and entrepreneurial flair and imagination."
Geraldine Ryan, head of the Manchester office of Hill Dickinson, also spoke to the audience, which was made-up of people featuring in the publication and their guests.
When you approach Tower 12 in Spinningfields Manchester, it looks like a very normal city tower, don’t be fooled. Inside lies a very special experience for both food lovers and lovers of a life with a view. Two stunning independently different environments. The Lounge on level 12 and the Restaurant by Aiden Byrne on level 2.