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."

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th November 2019

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