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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Four Day Gastronomic Spanish Showcase Set For Rioja Finnieston

Michelin-starred chef Modesto Fabregat is taking over Glasgow’s leading Spanish restaurant Rioja, in a gastronomic four-day exchange this Sunday, 22nd October until Wednesday, 25th October.

Inspired by modern Michelin dining and local produce, Modesto is bringing his extraordinary style of cooking from Valentia into the Finnieston-based restaurant for a gastronomic collaboration with Rioja head chef, Luis Urrutiabeaskoa, as they both curate an unforgettable eight-course tasting menu.

From the Scottish Highlands to the Galician sea, the two kitchen maestros who both trained in Basque Country in Spain - arguably the foodie capital of the world, have taken inspiration from their surroundings and once again imagined dishes that reflect the best of Scottish and Iberian produce.

Rioja – based on Argyle Street in Finnieston, is known for imagining unexpected flavour combinations with their monthly market menu and this exclusive event is sure to inspire and delight.

Promising to take your tastebuds on a food adventure the menu the set to be a really special affair. Guests will enjoy eight sumptuous courses created in collaboration with the aim to showcase and capture Spanish culture and modern Michelin dining into dishes for you to indulge.

From the delicious streets of Spain, the evening begins with a nod to both chefs through their amouse bouches paying homage to their cooking roots. Modesto chooses a Galician octopus carpaccio while Luis creates a bold colourful interpretation of the Rioja Boudoir cocktail – a strawberry infused delightful dish with air cured Leones beef.

Moving on the gorgeous greenery of the west coast, there's a showstopping beetroot cappuccino with truffle infused organic yolk alongside west coast langoustines.

Speciality Iberian produce features heavily on the menu with seasonal foraged mushrooms, suckling pig, Galician blond pig cheek and red tuna tartare. The menu has been crafted for their customers to enjoy the true essence of Spain.

Speaking of the Michelin Takeover, Eduardo Fernandez Blanco, operations manager of Rioja and the Rotunda Restaurant Group said:
“Pushing boundaries in flavour is what our chefs set out to do every day. They’re inspired by their surroundings and their Spanish heritage. In Rioja and in Spain, food is a way of life. It’s in our blood. We always try to reflect our culture and passion in our dishes and we’ve worked hard to create an exclusive menu for Glasgow to enjoy.
Speaking about the menu, Toni Carbajosa, co-founder of The Rotunda Restaurant Group continues: “Our team is passionate about flavour. We’re passionate about produce. And we’re passionate about creating unforgettable food experiences. With the return of Modesto to the Rioja kitchen we are once again looking forward to transporting our guests to the beautiful corners of Scotland and Spain through extraordinary flavours and exciting dishes.
“If you joined us last year, you’ll know how special this exclusive pop event was. Don’t miss out, join us for a dance through Iberian autumn and intoxicating seasonal flavours inspired by modern Michelin dining.”
The eight-course tasting menu is priced at £65pp and is available on the evenings from Sunday, 22nd October until Wednesday, 25th October. Matched wines are available.
Last few tables now remaining. To book a table please contact Javier via email; or call 0141 334 0761
Keep updated, follow Rioja:

Twitter @riojafinnieston

Instagram @riojafinnieston


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Wagyu House in Bridge of Allan Wowed by the Knife Skills of Master Butcher, Mr Tomohiro Tanaka

Wagyu House in Bridge of Allan was visited by a Japanese delegation including Master Butcher, Mr. Tomohiro Tanaka. treated an onlooking crowd, that included some of Scotland’s best butchers and celebrity chef Tony Singh, to some exceptional knife skills, as he demonstrated how to cut and prepare Wagyu as they do in Japan.

Mr. Tanaka said: “It has been a pleasure to visit the team at Highland Wagyu. I have never come across such knowledgeable people who share the same passion as we do in Japan.”

Mohsin Altajir, owner of Highland Wagyu said: “It has been a fantastic experience for us to see not only Master Tanaka at work, but also to learn a few new ideas. With ‘The Grill by HW’ opening soon, it is important that we are providing as much choice to our customers, and this has certainly helped.”

The Grill by HW, which opens at the end of October, is the latest venture by the Highland Wagyu Group, where diners will be able to enjoy the best Wagyu beef available in the UK in intimate surroundings, with a wine list to suit all.

Wagyu House - 16 Henderson St, Bridge of Allan, Stirling FK9 4HP


Success for Stewart Brewing Founder and Team at Scottish Beer Awards 2017

Leading Scottish craft brewer, Stewart Brewing, is celebrating after winning three prizes at the second annual Scottish Beer Awards recently. (28th September).

The brewery took home the title of Product Development Team of the Year for its innovation in creating a variety of classic and limited edition beers, while co-founder, Steve Stewart, beat off tough competition to be crowned Master Brewer of the Year. Stewart Brewing craft beer, They’re Coming to Get Rhu Barbara, also won Gold in the Best Sour Beer category.
Over 350 guests from across the brewing industry attended the ceremony last night to hear the winners announced. The awards come after a year of successes for Stewart Brewing with prizes in the International Beer Challenge, Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, SIBA Independent Beer Awards and World Beer Awards.

Steve Stewart, Stewart Brewing co-founder, commented: “Scotland is producing exceptional craft beer so we are extremely proud to receive these awards when up against so many high quality brewers. It’s a huge honour to have been named Master Brewer of the Year. I started Stewart Brewing with my wife Jo in 2004 with the mission to create craft beers of the highest quality. Awards like this prove that we are well on the way to realising that ambition.

“We are fortunate to have a great team of people at Stewart Brewing who are passionate about beer and creating great tasting products. Being awarded Production Development Team of the Year is a true testament to their innovation and talent.”

Stewart Brewing beers are available to order from their website: The range is also available from their brewery shop in Loanhead and Stewart’s Dockside Tap in Leith, as well as in pubs, bars and select retailers, such as Sainsbury’s.

The Stewart Brewing brewery is located at Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, 26a Dryden Rd, Loanhead.

For more announcements, follow Stewart Brewing on social media:

Twitter @StewartBrewing


Monday, 2 October 2017

Three Michelin Stars For The Araki As Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2018 Unveiled

GBI 2018 COVER - 3D


Michelin is pleased to unveil the new selection of the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland, which highlights a total of 2,067 restaurants and 1,155 hotels and guesthouses.

In this selection, London continues to build on its reputation as a world-class destination for rich, varied eating experiences. But the offer across Great Britain and Ireland as a whole is developing, often based around exceptional regional ingredients.

This year, The Araki has been awarded Three Michelin Stars. “With its nine-seater counter, The Araki has gone from strength to strength. When Mitsuhiro Araki moved to London from Tokyo in 2014 he set himself the challenge of using largely European fish and his sushi is now simply sublime,” comments Michael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin guides. It joins a select group of restaurants with three Michelin Stars: The Fat Duck and The Waterside Inn in Bray, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay which has retained the award under its new chef, Matt Abé.

In this new selection, Claude Bosi at Bibendum, located in the famous Michelin House in London, gains two Michelin Stars. Claude’s sophisticated French cuisine is a perfect fit and has been one of the openings of the year. In total, the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2018 features 20 restaurants awarded two Michelin Stars.

One hundred and fifty restaurants have one Michelin Star this year, including 17 new ones. In Ireland, there is now a Michelin-starred pub: The Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna. In Scotland, Michael Smith earns a Michelin Star for his restaurant Loch Bay, a converted crofter’s house on the Isle of Skye. Also awarded one Michelin Star is Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ Paco Tapas – this tapas bar is named after Peter’s father and is further evidence of Bristol’s exciting dining scene. Tom Kerridge’s Marlow pub, The Coach, receives a Michelin Star, as do two much more formal establishments: Matt Worswick at The Latymer in Surrey, and Coworth Park in Ascot. Mark Birchall has put his experience from L’Enclume to good use at Moor Hall, in Lancashire, which gains a Michelin Star, as does Michael Caines’ Lympstone Manor in Devon. Meanwhile talented young chef Niall Keating has begun to make his mark with a Michelin Star at Whatley Manor in Wiltshire.

In London, A.Wong receives a Michelin Star for its contemporary Cantonese cooking, while Anne-Sophie Pic has a Michelin Star for her French cuisine at La Dame de Pic. Phil Howard receives a Michelin Star for Elystan Street and the traditional Nordic dishes at Aquavit are also rewarded with a Michelin Star. Two Indian restaurants in London are on this year’s list of Michelin Star winners: Jamavar and the re-opened Vineet Bhatia.

The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland also features 27 new Bib Gourmands – which are chosen for their good quality, good value cooking. This year the new Bib Gourmands include Kricket and Kilnin Soho. In Ireland there are six new Bibs, including Two Cooks in Sallins and Kai in Galway. In Wales there’s the Hare & Hounds in Aberthin; and Noble in Holywood, Northern Ireland.

Also published today is the Michelin Guide London 2018. This guide provides extended text on London’s restaurants, with additional photographs and information on all Starred establishments, along with a pull-out map.

Both guides can be purchased from bookshops and at They are published today and will be in bookshops from Thursday, October 5.

The new selection includes:

  • 5 restaurants with three MICHELIN Stars, including 1 new one
  • 20 restaurants with two MICHELIN Stars, including 1 new one
  • 150 restaurants with one MICHELIN Star, including 17 new ones
  • 145 restaurants with a Bib Gourmand, including 27 new ones

5 Questions - Mike Jennings & Ben Humphreys, Head Chef & Sous Chef at WOOD Manchester

Back in 2015, Simon Wood was crowned MasterChef UK champion and was immediately thrust into the culinary limelight. Being a professional chef had always been a dream for Simon and over the last two and a half years, he has worked tirelessly, adding to his skills. From food festivals to cooking demonstrations, writing his first cook book to running the pop-up restaurant at Oldham Football Club, this has all been in preparation for the day when he would open the doors to his own restaurant, WOOD Manchester which launched a few weeks ago on Manchester's First Street.
In order to give the restaurant the very best chance of success, Simon has cleverly surrounded himself with great experience in both the kitchen and front of house with Mike Jennings coming in as Head Chef and James Cunningham appointed as General Manager.
With almost twenty years experience behind him, Mike has worked with top names including Gary Rhodes, Shaun Rankin and Nigel Howarth as well as running the Grenache restaurant in Walkden for two years.
James has been in the hospitality sector for 25 years now, working with Ramada, Whitbread and Harvey Nichols to name a few although for the last 8 years, has been working with Michael Caines at Andrew Brownsword Hotels.
I was able to catch up with Simon shortly after he was named MasterChef Champion and he kindly answered my 5 Questions. Step forward two years and Simon contacted me to ask if I would like to put the questions to Mike as well as Ben Humphreys, the Sous Chef at WOOD Manchester. Always keen to tell a story, especially one that I've been following from the start, it was a no-brainer.
Here's Mike and Ben's stories;

How did you get started?

Mike - started out helping my mum cooking the Sunday roast, and then started washing pots in a local pub, I was always interested in food and the older I became the hungrier I was for knowledge.

I went to college for 4 years to learn the basic skills, then left home and started working in Jersey, in 7 years I learnt so much not just about food. It also life skills.

Ben - I started cooking professionally after moving back home to Llandudno, North Wales from Manchester in 2001. I studied at hospitality and catering school Llandrillo College whilst working my way through many local hotel kitchens!

What's the best advice you could give anyone wanting to start working in the hospitality industry?

Mike - The best advice I can give anyone wanting a career in catering is remember this is not an ordinary job, this is a lifestyle,an addiction, a raw passion, so make sure you prepare yourself properly as the biggest problem I find in the industry today is that there are so many young chefs who want to be head chefs before learning the basics, no successful chef has ever progressed without understanding the basic principles of food.

Ben - Well there is all the usual answers to this question, expect long hard hours, poor pay etc but I’m guessing you know this already! Plus I’m tired of our industry having negative press - those of us that live it love it.

I'd have to say to any young chefs don’t waste any time, apply for positions in all the top kitchens worldwide. Go for it while you can afford it and have little responsibilities, you never know where you might end up and the experience will shape your future. I regret not doing this myself when I was younger.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

Mike - I would like to be working in a more executive role, developing food, chefs, menus etc... definitely still in the industry

Ben - This is a difficult question to answer. I guess like all chefs I dream of opening successful restaurants and heading up kitchens where I can build a team able to showcase my style of food and service.

If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?

Mike - A good old fashioned braised beef in red wine, proper comfort food, good crusty fresh bread, beef cooked for about 6/7 hours, deep red wine, root veg, job done!

Ben - This is also a tricky one because being a Welsh lad I love British comfort food. But a bigger food passion for me is the cuisines of Thailand, Japan and Peru. So I would cook a dish my wife Bo, who is Thai, and I have been cooking for years ‘Nam Tok Neua’. It's made by grilling ribeye steak with hot and sour dressing of roast chilli, lime and fish sauce with Thai herbs, crispy fried egg, bone marrow and jasmine rice. This dish reminds me of happy times cooking with Bo but also of chilling on the beach in Thailand.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal - who would it be and why?…and whats on the menu?

Mike - Sir Alex Ferguson, the man is an absolute living legend and I know he likes good food, I would probably share my braised beef with him, I think he'd like that, but he's bringing the wine!

Ben - I'm going to cheat on this one because…well just because I can!

I would invite my brother Dan. It would be my mam’s Christmas dinner because it's epic! Plus then she would have to be there to cook it but my wife would have to do the vegetables because I don’t want my mam to work too hard. Also for dessert my nana and grandad used to make amazing fruit pies so they would be there too. With all that food there would be a lot of washing up to do so my stepdad Mike could be the K.P. Happy days.

With just a few weeks of trading so far, WOOD Manchester has proven to be an early success with diners flocking from near and far to sample Simon's food and the team that have been put together, including Mike and Ben, seem to be ticking all the boxes so far.

Things have been manic at the restaurant in the lead up to Launch as well as the first few weeks being very busy so I would like to thank both Mike and Ben for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer 5 Questions. I would also like to wish Simon and his team every success for WOOD Manchester and look forward to catching up when we visit for lunch later this week.

Keep up to date with news and offers from WOOD Manchester on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cafe St Honoré named among Top 20 most sustainable food service businesses

Cafe St Honoré has been named on the shortlist for the much coveted award for the most sustainable foodservice business alongside two Michelin starred restaurants, a fish and chip shop, country pub and street food stall, as well as cookery schools, a workplace and university caterer.

Chef Director of Cafe St Honoré, Neil Forbes, said: “We are all thoroughly delighted to be in the top 20 businesses at the annual Food Made Good Awards. To be shortlisted alongside some of the most highly regarded places in the UK is a real honour. It’s due to the hard work and commitment from my team at Café St Honoré, and we are all looking forward to the awards in October. Fingers crossed!”

Restaurants from Denmark, Ireland, France and the United States are vying with 14 of the UK’s finest for the Food Made Good Business 2017 award which will be presented to the restaurant or foodservice business that has received the highest Food Made Good rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) in the last year, at the Food Made Good Awards on 5th October.

Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “These 20 businesses prove that it’s possible to serve creative, delicious and sustainable food in any setting, whether fine dining, pub grub or college café. They should all serve as an inspiration to the whole sector to serve food that not only tastes good but does good too.”

SRA President Raymond Blanc OBE and Vice President Prue Leith will present the 17 Food Made Good Awards at a special ceremony on 5th October at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Hall where Raymond Blanc is also curating the lunch to be served to the 300 guests.

The Food Made Good Awards recognise restaurants and food service businesses whose accomplishments in the last year have driven progress in the industry and demonstrated that all food can be made delicious, ethical and sustainable.

The SRA has updated its Food Made Good rating in 2017 and assesses businesses on their policies, operations and influence across ten key actions which define what a ‘good’ restaurant or foodservice business should do.

A full list of all of the Food Made Good Awards 2017 categories and the shortlisted restaurants is available here.


Aluna Coconut in Harvey Nichols across the UK

Aluna's 'Tropical Temper' is the exciting new cocktail of the month in Harvey Nichols stores around the UK.

Tropical Temper is the delicious cocktail developed by Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge bartender, Antonio Pellarin, winner in last month's cocktail competition, contested by bartenders from all the Harvey Nichols stores. Available until the end of September, Tropical Temper is now on drinks menus in Harvey Nichols bars around the country, including the Fifth Floor Bar in Knightsbridge and the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie. Priced between £9-£14, depending on location, this exclusive cocktail is made with a unique blend of Aluna Coconut, Kings Ginger, pineapple, lime juice and a touch of syrup, shaken and double strained.
Throughout September, customers buying a bottle of Aluna Coconut from Harvey Nichols will get a free voucher for two Tropical Temper cocktails - one to enjoy with a friend - in a Harvey Nichols bar. Additionally, there will be instore tastings of this new spirit in both Knightsbridge and Birmingham throughout the month.
Aluna Coconut is a sublime blend of rums from Guatemala and the Caribbean, with all-natural toasted coconut flavours. Aluna contains only a fraction of the sugar found in competitor brands and is made with virgin sugar cane ‘honey’ (miel de caña) for a lighter and smoother rum with a natural subtle sweetness. All natural, lightly toasted coconut flavours give a delicious new taste dimension to the rum and the addition of coconut water adds an amazingly smooth and clean coconut finish.
Harvey Nichols are retailing Aluna Coconut at £28.50 in all stores nationwide (70cl bottle, 35% ABV) and