An Altrincham-based chef, who is proudly “made in Manchester”, is set to represent our region in the latest series of Great British Menu.
Ashwani Rangta is currently the executive chef at GupShup in Hale.
Originally hailing from Shimla in northern India and now a respected name in the Greater Manchester food scene, Ashwani was the chef in charge at the award-winning restaurant of the luxury ITC Gardenia hotel in Bangalore, and was headhunted to run much-loved Manchester city centre-based Indian restaurant, Asha’s, before assuming his role at GupShup in the affluent Trafford suburb.
He has won multiple food awards throughout his career, including City Restaurant of the Year 2017, Best Indian Restaurant in Manchester, and in 2018, he won Best in North West Asian Curry Awards at Asha’s.
Ashwani’s style of food is said to be pan-Asian with modern British influences.
And he’s set to showcase this style of food as the smash-hit BBC show Great British Menu returns to our TV screens for its 16th series – which is tipped to be the most inventive one yet – next week.
Taking inspiration from early inventors in the world of computing – with 2021 marking the 30th anniversary of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee creating the world wide web – right through to modern-day medical pioneers and more, this series’ competing chefs will be demonstrating their culinary creativity through dishes that celebrate British innovation.
There will be three episodes a week for the next eight weeks, covering each regional heat, and the chefs will have to prove their originality and technical flair to be in with the chance of serving their creations at thebanquet in the final.
In the North West heat, Ashwani will be up against Blackburn-born Kirk Haworth from Plates in London, Dan McGeorge from Rothay Manor in the Lake District, and Dave Critchley from Lu Ban in Liverpool.
Ashwani has described his time on the competition as an “exhilarating experience”.
Speaking on the return of Great British Menu, chef Rachel Khoo – who will join long-standing judges Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton OBE on the judging panel this year, alongside a different guest judge each week – said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of judge at the Great British Menu.
“We have some extraordinary chefs in the UK and the programme does a great job of showcasing that homegrown talent.
“I’m so proud to be part of the series and I can’t wait for viewers to see what’s in store”.
Great British Menu returns to BBC Two on Wednesday 24th March at 8pm.
Food & Drink
A traditional cafe serving retro favouties has opened on the third floor of Affleck’s
A brand-new cafe has opened on the third floor of the iconic Afflecks building, offering an all-day menu of British classics, from breakfast through to closing time.
Serving cafe classics, Third Floor Rising will dish up quality breakfasts with specialities including meat, vegetarian and vegan fry-ups and breakfast rolls, BLT, teas, coffees – basically everything required to kick start the day.
There’s also a solid list of homemade favourites – such as Tommy’s homemade pies, paninis, toasties and filled rolls, alongside Sarah’s tray bakes and cakes.
Third Floor Rising has been brought to Afflecks by husband and wife team Tommy Heaton and Sarah Abell – long-time Afflecks fans who felt that it was the perfect space for their new venture.
With a wealth of experience in hospitality spanning over 20 years, the pair decided now was the time to open their first space and atop one of the city’s most iconic buildings was too good an opportunity to miss.
As one of Manchester’s most famous café spots rises again, the inspiration for the name comes from the book of the same title written by author Hilary Mantel when she worked at Affleck and Brown.
The cafe will be serving breakfast from 10.30am when Afflecks opens, as well as lunch and drinks all day long, designed to refuel hungry shoppers, visitors and traders alike.
The drinks menu includes coffees, smoothies, milkshakes and coolers. All of this will be brought to customers in a relaxed, homespun atmosphere with carefully considered vintage inspired interiors.
From handwritten, daily-changing menus, to original 70s printed wallpaper, owners Tommy and Sarah wanted to emulate their own home and love of all things retro in the surroundings for the city’s new community cafe.
The welcoming space also reflects the amazing light and history within the building with its panoramic windows looking out onto the Northern Quarter. Plants and artwork from fellow Afflecks traders City and Bloom and Egoiste Gallery adorn the space.
Commenting on the launch, Tommy said: “Since we’ve joined we have loved getting to know everyone, from the cleaners to the management to the stall holders and the techs!
“It feels like a family – a family we are proud to be part of. We are excited about the next few years as we plan to serve up hearty, homemade food in one of our favourite places in the world and we hope other people will love it too.”
AJ Martyn, General Manager at Afflecks, added: “We are thrilled to welcome another amazing independent business to the Afflecks community.
“Third Floor Rising is the perfect fit for the cafe space and we think the classic menu will really appeal to our customers. Tommy and Sarah have poured so much into the concept and we’re excited to be supporting them on their journey.”
Feature image – Supplied
Food & Drink
The New Didsbury Dozen: the definitive list of boozers on this legendary pub crawl
Whether you’re a born and bred Manc or simply visiting, ‘The Didsbury Dozen’ is an absolute institution of the Manchester drinking scene.
However, the sad reality of going out post-pandemic is that not every watering hole survived and, unfortunately, some of the original Didsbury Dozen didn’t make it through lockdown. Rest in peace, The Stoker’s Arms (now Dockyard), The Sanctuary (now Head of Steam), The Slug and more.
That being said, while we will certainly miss them, they say every ending is a new beginning; as one door shuts, another one opens — and when we say door, we of course mean the door to a pub.
So, without further ado, we decided to formalise The NEW Didsbury Dozen. At least one drink in each, those are the rules. You can argue all you like, this is the definitive list from here on out, so you’ll just have to deal with it.
1. The Didsbury
Where else to start but the beginning? Lucky for us, the consensus has always been that a pub crawl called The Didsbury Dozen should obviously start at The Didsbury. Kicking off the crawl on the curved corner of Wilmslow Road, this traditional pub offers little surprise but signals the start of a great night.
2. Ye Olde Cock Inn
The best part about the opening two pubs on this list is that not only have they remained literal cornerstones of this crawl but they are genuinely spitting distance from each other. As in you just walk five yards. Another ‘olde’ English pub that offers the same as next door plus a ping pong table. Easy.
3. The Famous Crown
Ok, so now you’ve had a couple pints, you’re ready for the short walk down the road as you begin the first mobile part of The Dozen toward The Famous Crown. What’s it famous for? Coming back from the dead with solid beer, a cosy interior and some mint food to line your stomach for the bulk of the boozing.
4. The Royal Oak
Had some pub grub or at least a butty from the Co-op up the road? Good. Sod that ‘eating is cheating’ nonsense, this is a long old night and we don’t need any heroes — you’ll all be heroes at the end. Next up, another non-nonsense boozer: The Royal Oak. Small and cosy; beer, wine and the rest of it. Simple.
5. Fletcher Moss
Now we move on to one of our favourites and arguably one of the best bars in Didsbury, let alone on The Dozen, Fletcher Moss. Just 75 yards off the Village high street and offering up live sports, craft beers, plus the beloved beer garden, this hidden gem is just as pretty in the winter as it is in the summer. Iconic.
6. The Nelson
Back toward the high street now; just on the corner of Barlow Moor Road, you’ll find The Nelson. Yes, named after the Admiral and yes, another no-frills boozer owned by Craft Union Pubs. Often serving up Moorhouse beer as its guest and playing host to the local darts league, it’s everything you’d expect.
7. The Dog and Partridge
Ok, halfway there and we’re definitely into the busy section now: pubs every couple of yards and, before you ask, yes we’re skipping The Botanist (formerly Pitcher & Piano) there’s loads of ’em. We’re moving on to The Dog and Partridge for some classic ale, Pieminister pies, cheese plates and more. Oh yes.
8. The Dockyard (formerly O’Neills, The Stoker’s Arms)
If you’ve been around Spinningfields or Media City in the last decade, you’ll recognise the name The Dockyard and if you’ve been in one, you’ll know you won’t be disappointed. Serving up pizza, burgers, wings, great beer, live sport and a
” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>wonderful back patio complete with wooden huts, it’s a winner.
9. The Station
Hopefully, you’ve soaked up the alcohol with some well-earned carbs as we’re now at a crucial juncture where many bow out. Make sure you’ve got all your belongings as we pull into The Station. This popular Irish pub has sport, live music three nights a week and a serious love of Guinness. Say no more.
10. The Woodstock Arms
Still standing? Good, cos we’re entering the final third of this drunken journey and you’ve gotta walk again. The fresh air might do you good. When you do stop you’ll arrive at The Woodstock: a beautiful establishment with lots of room and lots of booze. If anything, it’s too nice for your raucous rabble.
11. The Metropolitan
The penultimate stop on our alcohol-fuelled trip through Didsbury is The Metropolitan, or as it’s commonly known, ‘The Met’. Once a grand Victorian railway hotel, it’s now a massive bar and restaurant plating up banging Sunday Roasts and hangover-curing breakfasts. But you’re on a mission, concentrate.
12. The Railway
You’ve made it. One more drink and you’ve smashed The Didsbury Dozen. Starting in the Village and ending the night in East Dids, head over the road to The Railway, a simple, British, cask ale tavern, much loved by locals. We don’t need to sell it, you’ll love it too — that’s if you can remember it, of course.
Better still, you’re only stumbling distance from Burton Road tram stop. You’re welcome.