Rick Stein raves about Higher Ground in Manchester in new BBC series as he tucks into heart pasta

He's one of their heroes too...

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 16th February 2024

Celebrity chef Rick Stein has paid a visit to Greater Manchester and fallen head-over-heels in love with one of the city’s newest restaurants, Higher Ground.

The legendary chef and food writer had already named Higher Ground as one of his favourite places to eat in the entire UK, but with the premiere of his new BBC series Rick Stein’s Food Stories, we can finally see him fawn over it with our own eyes.

Rick’s Manchester episode has aired on BBC Two on Friday 16 February, and also includes a visit to Bury Market.

Meeting with Higher Ground head chef Joseph Otway for lunch, Rick praised him for ‘using every part of the beast’.

Joseph had chosen to cook him a portion of homemade pasta made with a pork offal ragu, which had been a surprise hit and has become one of Higher Ground’s best-selling recipes.


He said: “We needed a pasta dish for that evening, and we always cook with what we have available. We put the offal ragu on and I was pretty nervous about it, but it sold very well, and people loved it.”

The dish is made with pig’s heart, lung, kidney and liver, which is minced on site before being cooked in lashings of red wine and beef stock.


Rick said of Higher Ground: “Walking into this restaurant, it’s really cutting edge. It could be in any city in the world really.”

He also told Joseph: “You’re on the money, and I’ve been in the business for a while!”

Since the episode of Rick Stein’s Food Stories dropped on iPlayer, Higher Ground has shared a statement about meeting with a ‘culinary hero’.


They wrote: “Last year we had the pleasure of welcoming Rick Stein, one of my culinary heroes, to Higher Ground. I cooked a recipe with Rick and talked at length about how exciting it is to be based in Manchester and creating a restaurant that works with whole animal butchery and produce from our own farm, @cinderwoodmarketgarden.

“The series focuses on artisanal food producers around the British Isles and some forgotten food items. In this episode I made a ragu from all of the offal of one of the pigs we took from @janesfarmuk – a dish we had on the menu at the time.

“We’re taking a pig at the end of this week so it might be back on the menu soon!”

Higher Ground started life as a pop-up at Kampus but has since put down roots on New York Street.

It’s a modern space with floor-to-ceiling glass windows on two sides, and a whole wine room where diners can pick out a bottle to take home.


Also behind the restaurant is front-of-house man Richard Cossins and wine expert Daniel Craig-Martin. Rick said they are ‘young and just wonderful’.

And it’s not just Rick who approves of it – Higher Ground has already been added to the Michelin Guide and placed in the top 100 in the UK within months of opening.

Rick Stein just named Higher Ground in Manchester as one of his favourite restaurants in the UK. Credit: Sam Harris
Rick Stein just named Higher Ground as one of his favourite restaurants in the UK. Credit: Sam Harris

Speaking of Higher Ground to Conde Nast Traveller, Rick said: “This is in a really trendy part of Manchester, but I love it because Joe is one of those chefs who won’t cook anything that isn’t local.

“Of course, it’s not one of those places that won’t use olive oil because it’s not local, but the main ingredients are strictly local. I really liked it, but it’s so unlike the sort of place that you would expect me to like.”

The legendary chef said he first visited when in Manchester for the cricket, and says Higher Ground ‘really shows how much food is improving in Manchester’.


Rick said of the food: “I had the most delicious homemade pasta, a pappardelle with heart, liver and lungs of lamb made into a Ragu. You wouldn’t know it was made of heart, lungs and liver if you didn’t know; it was really, really tasty.

“They do organic wine, which is unusual for me, but currently trendy and apparently gives you less of a hangover.”

Rick Stein has travelled the length and breadth of the UK filming a new series Food Stories, where he’ll ‘meet the pioneers of the twenty-first century British food scene’.

And the Higher Ground team certainly fit that description.

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Featured image: The Manc Group