“It’s better than the normal trade fairs I go to!”
Not being in ‘the industry’ I managed to bag a ticket for the National Restaurant and Bar Show as an out and out blagger/hanger on. It seemed to work, I was let in and left free to roam around the architectural hangar of Manchester’s great central building without anyone seeming to mind. Within minutes I was slurping a half of JW Lees Manchester Pale Ale, and it was free! I could get used to this.
The NRB was held across two days March. It was a smorgasbord, a collection, a veritable phalanx of professional outfits looking to win more business in our wonderful world of restaurants and bars. If you’ve ever wondered who it is who supplies those comedy salt cellars, or the gaudy menus, or the neat waitress uniforms, then this is the place you needed to be. It was all there.
As well as some of the more abstract items and paraphernalia that’s required to get a restaurant up and running there was of course plenty of other tasters. Lots of food and drink producers were on hand to let you sample the wares. As you might expect the beer section of the scheme seemed to attract a good deal of interest. Craft beers from Liverpool, the aforementioned MPA section, Greene King and a few others all had the pumps set up for testing. The Prosecco stand seemed to be doing well too!
Purveyors of machinery were on hand to demonstrate how effectively food can be transformed from the raw ingredient to an object of pure joy. I encountered no finer example than at the INKA grill stand. A beautifully seasoned chump of rib eye left the charcoal fed lair with a charred coat and a blood red centre, the baying crowd hoovered up the result as soon as it hit the board. I was there ‘obvs’ 🙂
Another of the main attractions for me was the ‘chef live’ area. As the title suggests this was where Chefs cooked something ‘live’. I happened upon up and coming sensation Michael O Hare, or the @hairmetalchef. Young, director and chief of The Man behind the Curtain currently being raved about from its home above Flannels in Leeds. He quipped that he made is mark serving fine food in a rock bar. He looked the part. I reckon with a bit more glitter and make up he could have drummed for The Sweet*, with his long hair and black outfit. He cooked a pork dish with smoked toast, eggs and a few other bits and served it on a slashed canvas with beetroot juice! It looked Like a Tracy Emin art installation, but then again so does most of his stuff. The packed theatre shot up at the end to image and quaff the result. Lots of other chefs were on hand throughout the two days. I was hoping to catch our very own Beef and Pudding chap Dave Mooney but sadly missed it.
Other smaller areas had demonstrations on fish and butchery as well a large seminar/debate section. Sadly I didn’t get to hear any of these as I had snook out of work on my lunch break. I had hoped to have a good few hours at it but work commitments took over. Maybe next year!
All in all a great event. A true reminder to us hangers on about just what a great industry it is that we all enjoy. To all the restaurateurs out there, keep on cooking!
*a glam rock group from the 70’s. Google ‘Blockbuster’!