Simon Wood to open new restaurant in Chester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 April 2019

Simon Wood is coming to Chester

Simon Wood is coming to Chester

Carl Sukonik The Vain Ltd. 07947484641

On your marks! MasterChef 2015 champion Simon Wood is opening his new restaurant in Chester this summer

Smart interior at WoodSmart interior at Wood

If you’re watching the current series of MasterChef at the moment, you might be wondering what it is like for John Torode and Gregg Wallace to taste a winning dish.

I got my John and Gregg moment when I went over to Wood on Jack Rosenthal Street Manchester, where MasterChef winner Simon Wood cooks up his brand of unstuffy high end dining.

On the five course tasting menu is a citrus tutti frutti, which is a creamy posset, with sharp busts of grapefruit and orange gels, which was the finale to his 2015 MasterChef clinching menu. It’s clever but without being madly pretentious which sums up the kind of cooking you’ll find at Simon’s flagship restaurant.

The reason I am also here is to sample just what to expect when Wood arrives at the new Hotel Indigo on Grosvenor Park Road in Chester in the summer.

Simon Wood adding the finishing touches to the cranberry and orange cheesecake shotsSimon Wood adding the finishing touches to the cranberry and orange cheesecake shots

Simon was working at Wood, Manchester when a team from hotel operator Castlebridge and the Intercontinental Hotel Group came in. They got talking and the next minute plans for Wood Chester were in place.

‘We have the restaurant in Manchester which is doing really well - we received a Michelin recommendation, we’ve got rosettes from the AA Guide. We are pushing our boundaries as much as we can there,’ Simon tells me after hotfooting it from the hotel site to the restaurant where he was preparing for the evening service.

‘It’s a popular restaurant and to take an exact replica of that and pop it into a hotel is probably one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. We’ve got the Wood restaurant group and we’ve also got Woodcraft down in Cheltenham and that’s a different offering. It’s breakfast, brunch and Sunday lunch so we will take elements of that and pop it into the hotel for our breakfast offering.

‘So it’s like bringing all our brands together in one central source in Chester really. It’s exciting.’

On the menu at WoodOn the menu at Wood

The fact that Chester is close to Simon’s Manchester base makes it easier for him to have control and be visible in the kitchen. Very visible, as it’s an open plan affair in the Manchester restaurant.

‘We looked around the market in Chester and it’s a really good city. We felt we could compliment the great dining scene that is already there,’ he says.

‘One thing to remember, and I always keep this in mind no matter how busy we are, I personally feel that Manchester is the toughest culinary nut in the country to crack. We’ve seen some great names come and not stay. It’s a difficult place but I think we’ve got the vibe just right and I think it will translate very nicely over to Chester. Hopefully we’ll be as popular there as we are here.’

It’s the relaxed dining space and the quality of the produce that makes Wood so popular. Highlights of our tasting menu included a stunning Cheshire short rib, cooked right down for hours to produce prodigious flavour then turned into Simon’s take on a Cottage pie and Goosnargh duck with a densely fruity plum sauce and pak choi.

It’s all about the cooking for Simon as it is what he loves the most and winning MasterChef has not only given him the opportunity to truly live his dream but placed him in a culinary elite.

‘How many people are there in the country? About 80 million? And there are 14 of us who have been good enough to win it,’ he says.

‘It’s a massive springboard and if you utilise the knowledge you acquire on the show and you actually want to be a bona fide chef and that’s your passion, if you want to work with the best and be the best you will go a long way. And that’s my ethos.

‘I want to be recognised as one of the best chefs, not just in the North West .’

Not only did Simon acquire the skills and backing to open his own restaurant on MasterChef, he also made friends for life.

‘It’s interesting because you do become quite close to the other contestants and begin to see it as less of a competition, well I certainly did anyway,’ he admits.

‘You become friends and at the end of it, a MasterChef family. It’s nice.’

Anyone who has watched the new series will have seen him experience the show from the other side as a judge of one of the early heats.

‘Obviously I was there the other week doing the judging for the guys who are walking the path that I went through and I know how they feel,’ he says.

‘Judging is quite difficult, because you want to be nice but you have to be honest as well and the two quite often don’t go hand in hand.’

The future is looking bright for the 2015 MasterChef champion and he has no plans to stop at the restaurant in Chester.

‘I wouldn’t want to dilute it on a huge scale but this will be restaurant number three and anywhere up to restaurant number five I’d be quite happy with,’ he says.

‘That would be a nice odd number.’ u

Jack Rosenthal Street,

First Street, Manchester,

M15 4RA.

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