1 Michelin Star Chefs: Simon Martin, chef owner, Mana

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th November 2019

Simon Martin is the chef owner of Mana in Manchester. 

Never aspiring to cook for a living in his youth, Simon's success in the culinary world was the happy consequence of what could have been a life-ending accident. 

Mana

The Staff Canteen

42 Blossom St, Manchester M4 6BF

Telephone: 0161 392 7294

Website and reservations:  manarestaurant.co.uk

Opening hours:

Monday to Wednesday: Closed  
Thursday and Friday: 18:00 - 00:00
Saturday: 12:00 - 16:00 / 18:30 - 00:00
Sunday: 12:00 - 18:00

Twitter: @RestaurantMana

Instagram: @manamcr

Facebook: @manamcr

Biography

Simon originally planned on joining the Royal Marines, but a motocross crash which left him unable to do so. 

His father applied for a job at The Chester Grosvenor on his behalf, where he worked somewhat begrudgingly until he noted that just like in the military, success as a chef in a fine dining restaurant requires a high level of discipline. 

He then applied to work at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, before setting his sights on Noma in Copenhagen.

The chef was so dedicated to learning the lessons of Rene Redzepi that, when he was offered a permanent position after his three month internship at Noma, he slept on the streets for several weeks while he sought a tenancy. 

After three years in Copenhagen, Simon moved back to Manchester where he opened Mana in October 2018.  

Mana

The city’s first Michelin-starred restaurant since 1977 boasts a £300,000 bespoke kitchen with its own R&D facilities.

The chef knew he was taking a risk with the concept, but he did it anyway: he signed two contracts – one for the kitchen and another for its fit-out – before he had any money to pay for them, but thankfully financial backers contacted him on social media and were on board from day 1. 

In his kitchen, the chef – who admits having witnessed people have their heads shoved into pans and being pinned up against the wall – touts a modern approach to management, where making sure his team is happy primes. 

The restaurant opens four days a week for dinner and two for lunch, serving a sixteen course tasting menu for just 30 covers - or eight tables - per seating. 

What the guides say

Michelin:

Michelin star

A clear shift away from old restaurant customs, chandeliers and white tablecloths, Mana is no less impressive, with its £590-a-square-metre compressed stone surfaces and swooping high ceilings from which neon lights hang both vertically and horizontally. 

The open kitchen is divided into sections according to temperature, and, like at Noma, fermentations and preserves are the backbone of the menu – from miso and garum to pickles strewn on plates alongside monkfish livers, cured venison and ants. 

In terms of the dishes that shine, Michelin picks out the beef tartare with rhubarb and oxalis, seaweed-fed hogget with ramsons and salad; and baked pear with sheep's milk and sorrel. 

Upon visiting the restaurant prior to it getting a star, Guardian critic Grace Dent said Mana is "the sound of Manchester turning a corner. I hope the men with the stars agree."

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th November 2019

1 Michelin Star Chefs: Simon Martin, chef owner, Mana