Chef to Watch: Paul Durand, Chef Owner at Manifest Restaurant, Liverpool

Alex South

Alex South


Chef to Watch: Paul Durand, Chef Owner at Manifest Restaurant, Liverpool

It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.

Someone who can master the mundane and rise to the top will likely go on to innovate and become a true leader in their field.

For Paul Durand, Chef Owner of Liverpool’s Manifest restaurant and The Staff Canteen Awards 2022 One to Watch Winner, this school of thought represents the backbone of this career with the young chef already winning awards and waves in the industry early into his professional career.


“Career wise, it's a sort of unromantic story. I was one of those ones that fell into the industry, so my first job was in a local pub, and I was actually working in front of house, believe it or not, and I used to be the only who could be trusted to do the open morning shifts,” explained Paul.

From this first job, Paul went on to work at a local bistro in his hometown of Liverpool as well as a number of stages, before taking the next step in his career before relocating to Edinburgh to work at Paul Kitching’s 21212 restaurant.

“It was a choice between moving to Edinburgh or London, and I thought I was too old to go over to London, so I chose the more mature option of Edinburgh,” joked Paul.

After spending time in the Scottish capital, Paul returned to Liverpool to take on the Head Chef position at Sticky Walnut before joining the team at Moor Hall.

Describing his time at Moor Hall, Paul said: "I absolutely loved Moor Hall, it was great working with Mark and Jim. Again, learnt so much in such a short space of time."

From here, after starting a family with his partner, Paul decided it was only right for him to invest in his partner’s business and make something personal for his family to own and develop, creating what is now Manifest.

“I ended up investing in in her business because she ran a bakery, so I tried to take some of her responsibilities and also try to do similar foods to what we're doing right now in the evenings,” he said.


Shortly after setting up Manifest with his partner, Paul just like every other business in the hospitality industry, was hit by the absolute shit storm that was the Covid pandemic.

Describing his and Manifest’s experience during the pandemic, Paul explained: “We worked really hard through all the lockdowns and things, which we did quite well. We had a little online shop we did all deliveries that everyone was doing to survive but also it was more time than I probably ever had to reflect as well.”

He added: “We put our heads together, and we were like, 'well, if we had one chance to do exactly what we wanted, what would we do?' and this is what we came up with.”

In Paul’s words, Manifest is “a culmination of years and years of making mistakes, learning how to do things, how not to do things”.

Inspired by Paul’s travels abroad European cities such as Bologna and Bordeaux and these cities’ thriving relaxed casual dining scenes, Manifest represents a combination of a relaxed continental flow and a modern fine dining experience, showcasing the best local produce native to Merseyside and the North of England.

Describing his time abroad travelling and what he wanted to bring back with him, Paul explained: "We were really inspired by the more casual dining scene there. It's still really high-end food but like everything was really informal and, the atmosphere was great, and it wasn't stuffy, and so we wanted to try and bring a little bit of that back to Liverpool because we thought there was a bit of a gap in the middle at the time."

For the couple, Manifest’s experience needed to be as important as the quality of being served to guests.

The restaurant is composed of a restaurant and bar where Paul and his team showcase a top selection of dishes and wines, creating a unique approach to his original desire of creating a relaxed European fine dining experience.


Speaking to Paul about what ingredients and foods excitement, Paul explained he’s enjoyed working with British foods, creating his own interpretations of “classic dishes” throughout his menu.

"I'm really interested in really old recipes and trying to modernise things,” he said.

Explaining his philosophy in more detailed, Paul revealed: “I always joke that if your grandparents wouldn't recognise it as something that they know then you've gone too far but it was more generally most European countries are really, really proud of their heritage and produce, they like to like to show it off, and that's what it's all about. I thought that we don't do that enough in the UK."

Paul effortlessly achieves his vision of putting British produce front and centre by keeping things simple and pure, free from the unnecessary overcomplications that dominate a lot of modern British cuisine.

“None of our dishes ever have more than four elements on, but we try and make the flavours as bold as we can. If the main component of the dish is a carrot, you want it to taste like a carrot, that's sort of my philosophy on things,” he said.

What gets Paul going is good quality produce with his native Merseyside providing a lot of it.

"We've got a girl on the Wirral called Alice who grows, vegetables and fruits especially for us, and she grows some really interesting varieties you don't see everywhere. She's just brought a box of Jerusalem artichokes that she's worked really hard to get out because you have the first frost and with the weather recently, we've been waiting a long time, so I'm excited to work with that," he said.

Talking about what meats he uses at Manifest, Paul explained: "Our butcher is great. He's really focused on getting the best produce, the most ethical high welfare produce, the things that inspire me is when they come to me and say this is great right now and then I come up with something to showcase it more than anything else."


Despite the restaurant being only nine months old, Paul his partner Rachael and the rest of the team at Manifest have created a concept that is not only successful but is thriving to grow into that space of legendary status.

Whether it be homemade vermouths, fermentations, or charcuteries, Manifest’s image has been defined with a strong community of supporters already behind Paul and the restaurant.

Discussing his plans in more detail, Paul revealed: “I just want to keep deep diving into all the things that we've started. I want to take them further like we do a little bit of making our own charcuterie and things like that, I want to get further into that.”

He added: "We got the ball rolling with these things, and we wanted to see how far we can take this really. I go down rabbit holes with things like we experimented with brewing our own beer with leftover bread and things, so we're trying to get that on. Alice brough us a load of pears so we made our own perry, so basically, I'm really curious about all these things, so we want to keep going with it and maybe make it more of a feature on the menus.”

Reflecting on the success of Manifest and his personal success after being announced The Staff Canteen Awards One to Watch Winner of 2022, Paul’s confidence is through the roof and is excited to continue down the road of success.

"It's solidified my belief in the idea. When it's on paper, and you're planning these things you don't know how it's going be received, so I think I have a bit more confidence about trying things. People have really bought into what we we've done and so it's given me a little bit more confidence in my own convictions,” explained Paul.

Explaining what the award meant to him, Paul concluded the interview by thanking the guests for voting for him, announcing more will follow from him and Manifest in the future.

He said: "It's been lovely because since the awards, I can't believe how many guests have said congratulations and voted for us and things like that. It's crazy. We're just a little 30-seater restaurants not even in Liverpool City Centre, we're a little bit off the beaten track and as I say, we've got so many regulars, and they've shown us great support, I thank them for their votes and things. Let's keep going down this road and see how far we can take it!”

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 9th December 2022

Chef to Watch: Paul Durand, Chef Owner at Manifest Restaurant, Liverpool