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Northern England’s Crowd-Funding Master Chef Sets His Sights on London

Chef-restaurateur Gary Usher, of Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle, Hispi, and Wreckfish announces he is looking at a site in Hackney

Chef Gary Usher of Sticky Walnut and Burnt Truffle will cook with Angela Hartnett at Michelin-starred restaurant Murano in London this November
Chef Gary Usher
Allen Markey/Twitter

One of northern England’s most well-known, unconventional, and lauded chefs could be opening a first restaurant in London. Gary Usher, who operates a growing portfolio of modern British bistros, including Sticky Walnut, in Chester, near Manchester, announced — surprisingly — on Twitter last night that he was scheduled to view a site in Hackney, east London this Thursday.

While the tweet did not break the internet, Usher certainly gamed it — immediately generating a significant amount of interest — which is testament to the chef’s popularity and (digital) fame. He is, among other things, an unusually candid operator, regularly using his social media channels to lament the apparently unqualified opinions of TripAdvisor users.

Usher opened his first restaurant Sticky Walnut in 2011.

His restaurant group Elite Bistros of the World Ltd (lol) has since expanded to include Burnt Truffle on the Wirral, Merseyside, Hispi in Didsbury, south Manchester, and Wreckfish in Liverpool. He also exceeded his recent crowdfunding target for a fifth site called Pinion, in Prescot. The chef’s campaign aimed to raise £50,000 in 24 hours for the project; it met that target in under an hour, ultimately raising £86,624. Usher called it “overwhelming beyond words,” adding that his “head was absolutely smashed”; restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin said she was in awe.

Usher has before said that he did not have plans for a London opening. He told Great British Chefs at the end of last year that he was “nobody in London.” “You walk down a street in London and there’s multiple Michelin star restaurants on the same road. There are some amazing restaurants [in the north of England] but they’re more sparse, so it’s easier for us to get noticed.”

Eater has contacted Usher for comment on his (tentative) plans to open a restaurant in the capital.

More soon.