Photography by Yasmin Carter
Words by Harry Potts
Mary-Ellen McTague is an award winning Manchester based chef with a passion for locally sourced food.
Bury born, Mary-Ellen developed a passion for cooking, when working in the kitchen of the Manchester Roadhouse making food for touring bands. Keen to gain more experience, she became the first female chef at Michelin-starred country house hotel Sharrow Bay.
After a short period working in America, Mary-Ellen joined The Fat Duck in 2002 and progressed from the pastry section to become Sou Chef under Heston Blumenthal. She remained there for four years before opening her own restaurant Aumbry in Prestwich in 2009. Despite being set in an intimately small location, Aumbry quickly became much loved and critically acclaimed with The Guardian describing the restaurant as a “miracle of Lilliputian industry.”
After the closure of Aumbry in 2014, Mary-Ellen has been involved in a series of city centre ventures including a pop up restaurant called 4244 in the Northern Quarter, Head Chef for the ‘pay as you feel’, Real Junk Food Project (now Project Director) and recently enlisted to give Manchester Art Gallery’s cafe a major overhaul.
Mary-Ellen has appeared on two series of the BBC series Great British Menu, in 2013 and 2014. She is also regularly interviewed on BBC television and radio and has written a food column for The Guardian newspaper.
“Working with Mary Ellen was a fantastic and rewarding experience. It has developed my confidence and made me realise the value of getting to know your client and making them feel comfortable before a shoot. I hope to continue to develop these important skills as my photography career progresses over the coming years.”
Mary and her restaurants have won a number of awards. In 2012 Aumbry won Restaurant of the Year at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards and the following year she was named Chef of the Year. In 2014 McTague won the Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Chef of the Year.
© All images – The Manchester College (unless otherwise stated)