Star chef supports crowdfunding bid for latest Elite Bistros venture

Tom Kerridge, fifth from left

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge is supporting a crowdfunding campaign to set up a new restaurant in Manchester city centre.

North West chef and restaurant entrepreneur Gary Usher will attempt to raise £100,000 in 100 hours on March 11, to fund the opening of his latest venture, Kala, on King Street.

This would be his sixth restaurant opening, having launched Pinion, in Prescot, last October.

In 2011 he opened his first restaurant, Sticky Walnut, in Chester, followed by Burnt Truffle in Heswall, Hispi in Didsbury, and Wreckfish in Liverpool after a record-breaking £200,000 crowdfunding campaign.

Work has already begun on Kala, which is scheduled to open in May. But unforeseen construction work and subsequent spiralling costs have led to the launch of Usher’s fifth crowdfunding drive to complete the project.

He admitted: “It’s no secret that I’ve messed up the numbers with Kala.

“Unfortunately, due to building issues we didn’t anticipate, we need an additional £100k if we are going to be able to open, so we had to make the decision to do another crowdfunder.”

After seeing Gary’s frank video on social media detailing the issues with Kala, chef patron of the two Michelin-starred The Hand & Flowers, Tom Kerridge offered to help them raise the money by holding two £200-a-ticket guest chef nights consecutively at Liverpool’s Wreckfish and Didsbury’s Hispi on Monday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 26.

Tom Kerridge said: “Gary is everything that I find amazing about this industry – he’s driven, passionate and his love of restaurants is hugely inspiring.

“He is a friend that I admire very much. And as a bunch of people in Marlow, we would love to help Gary in any way that we can, to open his biggest and most exciting venture to date.”

Gary added: “When Tom rang me asking how he could help get us the cash to open Kala, I couldn’t believe it.

“He has supported us so much with Wreckfish and it really helped us get over the line so, to do it again really is something special.

“Tom’s nights at Hispi and Wreckfish will undoubtedly be exceptional and, with Tom’s unprecedented support, we just can’t wait to get going with the Kickstarter now.”

Kala, managed by Katy Mills, will be a 55-cover restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a separate 15-cover bar space.

Head chef Zhelyazko Zhelyazkov, or ‘Jiji’, who has previously worked at the two Michelin-star Moor Hall and Raby Hunt, has created a Kala menu that will feature bistro-style dishes, such as burrata, beef tartare, braised featherblade, a monkfish, spinach and tomato fondue, apple tart and crème caramel, as well as bread baked on-site and Usher’s Elite Bistros group famed truffle and parmesan chips.

The city centre restaurant will also offer an all-day menu at the bar, featuring small, simple and delicious British dishes, such as pig’s head sausage roll and pickled eggs.