1 Michelin Star Chefs: Michael O'Hare, chef patron, The Man Behind The Curtain

The  Staff Canteen

Michael O'Hare is the chef patron of one Michelin-starred Leeds restaurant, The Man Behind The Curtain.

Michael O’Hare's path into professional kitchens was rather unusual, as he first started cooking at the age of 19 whilst studying aeronautical engineering at London's Kingston University.

After a short stint working in a call centre in Stockton-on-Tees, he went to work for John Burton-Race at the Landmark in London, then to Seaham Hall in County Durham before heading to René Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen.

He made a name for himself leading the kitchen at the Blind Swine in York before launching his own restaurant, The Man Behind the Curtain, in 2014.

The Man Behind The Curtain

68-78 Vicar Ln, Leeds LS1 7JH

Tel: 0113 243 2376

Email: 

[email protected]

Website: 

www.themanbehindthecurtain.co.uk/

Chef patron: Michael O'Hare

Twitter: @hairmetalchef

Instagram: @ohare.michael

Facebook: The Man Behind The Curtain

Biography

Originally from Middlesbrough, Michael was raised in Redcar, North Yorkshire.

He studied classical and modern ballet between the ages of 11 and 18, then embarked on a degree in aeronautical engineering at Kingston University in London before a change of heart struck, and he eventually decided to pursue a career as a chef.

His contemporary and innovative food first caught the British public's attention when he was at The Blind Swine in York, and the chef particularly credits chef Kenny Atkinson for drawing attention to the restaurant by spreading the word among his own contacts in the industry, as well as  by recommending him to the production team on the BBC's Great British Menu.

He was briefly involved in a project called Le Cochon Aveugle (now owned by Josh Overington), a simple French food restaurant which he considered calling 'It's French as Fuck.'

Under his ownership, it featured chequered floors, torn pages of Escoffier's Guide Culinaire on the walls and reall turf in the pink toilets. Guests were invited to bring a piece of underwear to the venue to hang on the ceiling in exchange for a discounted meal.

Marina O'Loughlin remembers peering in when Michael was at the helm, and spotting "what could have been the blueprint for a tart’s boudoir – washing lines hung with bras."

The chef then took a break from cooking to do a snowboarding season in the alps, and, upon his return in 2014, after attempting to secure a site in York, he found a location in Leeds which would become The Man Behind the Curtain. 

Michael is engaged to Amanda Gilby, and together they have a son, Hedi, who was born in 2017.

The Man Behind The Curtain

The Man Behind the Curtain is a 42-seat avant-garde fine-dining restaurant first opened on the top of Flannel’s department store in Leeds. It has since moved to the basement of the same building after a £1 million refurbishment. 

Michael and his team serve dishes that are modern and experimental - elements on the 10+ course tasting menu include a char siu octopus hotdog, a dish of tuna flavoured with Fisherman's Friend and Gruyère de Comté and ox cheek with foie gras foam and rice potato puffs.

The name ‘The Man Behind the Curtain’ is a reference to Wizard of Oz quote, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” and should be visited with an open mind and a willingness to taste new things.

When she visitied in 2015, The Guardian food critic Marina O'Loughlin described Michael's food as as ‘Bonkers,' but 'Engagingly bonkers' at that.

Of Michael, she said: "He’s very self-effacing for a rock god whose gravity-defying coiffure seems to have morphed from the Vince Neil platinum blond of his website to Cher-ish ebony. But never mind the barnet, one thing’s for sure: he’s got bollocks of purest steel."

What the guides say

Michelin Guide

 

AA Restaurant Guide

Restaurant James Sommerin, AA Restaurant Guide 2018, AA Rosettes

Harden’s

 

The Man Behind the Curtain was awarded a star in the Michelin Guide UK 2016 and it received four rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide 2018.

Great British Menu

Michael appeared on the BBC's Great British Menu in 2015, astounding viewers and judges alike with his creative and experimental dishes. He went on to win the North East heat and made it through the national finals to cook his main course (‘Emancipation’ a dish of cod loin, cod dashi, squid ink powder, scorched gem lettuce and gold shoots) at the final banquet.

He returned to the Great British Menu as a veteran judge in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and has also appeared on MasterChef, BBC Saturday Kitchen and Yes, Chef on BBC One.

In 2021, Michael co-hosted The Staff Canteen's Grilled podcast for a limited seven-episode series - which you can listen to in its entirety here.

Rabbit in the Moon

Michael O'Hare is the creative director of hospitality management firm, GG Hospitality and oversees the company's restaurant The Rabbit in the Moon at the National Football Museum in Manchester

The Rabbit in the Moon opened in January 2017 with then head chef, Luke Cockerill, who previously worked at The Man Behind the Curtain, bringing 'space-age Asian' cuisine to the people of Manchester with a rather unique 'snacking' style menu.

Videos with Michael O'Hare:

 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th April 2021

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Michael O'Hare, chef patron, The Man Behind The Curtain