A bartender in Manchester has been left ‘absolutely speechless’ after taking home a top gong at one of the UK’s biggest bar awards ceremonies.
Elena Wright of Mecanica has only been in the industry for a year, but that didn’t stop her from being awarded the ‘Emerging Bartender of the Year’ award at this year’s Class Bar Awards ceremony.
The annual awards, organised by leading industry publication Class, celebrate the very best of the UK’s bartending talent, with further categories including Bar Manager of the Year, Front of House Star of the Year, Bar Employer of the Year, Social Media Presence of the Year and Sustainable Practices Award.
Sharing her absolute joy at taking home the prestigious gong, Elena said: “I’m absolutely speechless. If you’d have told me this is where I’d be within a year of joining the industry, I wouldn’t have believed you, especially with being up against such incredible talent.
“I can’t thank the whole of the Mecanica team (both past and present) enough, for always taking the time to teach me, answer my endless questions and give me opportunities to develop. They all deserve endless credit and recognition for what they’re achieving.
“I’ve been so pleased to see so many other women in the industry getting the recognition they deserve, such as Monica Berg, who was also credited at the CLASS awards, and more locally, Rachel Orange. And finally, congratulations to all of the winners – especially to Schofield’s – for bringing two amazing and deserving wins back to Manchester.”
In a sector which is often perceived as a male-dominated industry, Elena hopes to inspire other female bartenders to follow in her footsteps, citing that your environment is integral to your development.
She continued: “Having just completed a degree in chemistry, I’m no stranger to paving my own way in male-dominated industries.
“Your work environment is important as you progress, so my first piece of advice to other women who might want to work in the industry is to surround yourself with people who celebrate you, who educate you, and who hear you.”
Keen to dispel the preconceived notion that bartending is often a career that people find themselves cornered into, she adds: “My aim in the industry is to end any stigma around both bartending and being a female bartender.
“It isn’t a career you ‘just fall into’ because there isn’t any other option – it’s a conscious choice – and while it can be hard and physically demanding, it’s a fun and rewarding job.”
“The constant surprise on peoples’ faces when they ask for the manager and it’s me, drives me to do better.”
Inspired by initiatives such as ‘Celebrate Her’ by Anna Sebastian, Elena recognises the significance of platforms that elevate the profiles of women.
“I’ve worked with some incredible women, who have all given me invaluable advice. Though I’m still learning, I’m honoured to now be in the position where I can give my own guidance to those starting out.
There’s not enough of us, but we’re getting there, and we need more women to cause a stir for all of the right reasons.”
Popular London bakery Gail’s to open string of North West cafes next year
Popular craft bakery Gail’s has hinted at plans to open a string of new cafes in the North West next year.
The group, which already has a large number of bakery-cafes in the south of England, has announced it will open its first North West site in Wilmslow in early 2023.
Bosses have also said that ‘further locations in the North West’ will be announced in the new year, adding that all the new bakeries will serve GAIL’s artisan sourdough breads, pastries, sandwiches, and cakes alongside its specialty House Blend coffee.
The news also seems to potentially confirm speculation that the brand is planning a move into Manchester after The Manc shared news of potential plans for a Gail”s opening in the city centre in October.
Having already seen planning documents that suggest the chain is planning to take over the former White Stuff unit on King Street, it now appears that more news on that opening will be coming in 2023 – although it’s hard to say if it will be the first Manchester site to be announced.
The bakery group already has strong ties with Manchester, having run its sister wholesale bakery The Bread Factory in Openshaw since 2017.
Formed in the early 1990s by namesake Gail Mejia, Gail’s began when its eponymous founder decided to bring together the best bakers in London to create bakes for the capitals top chefs and restaurants.
Today, is known more as a customer-facing cafe and bakery whilst The Bread Factory continues the original wholesale legacy – supplying high quality, artisan breads to some of the region’s top local restaurants.
Gail’s first cafe opened on Hampstead High Street in 2005, and now the brand has 79 in neighbourhoods in and around London, Oxford, Brighton and more.
Turning back the clock on industrialised baking practices and moving to bake bread as it used to be baked: by hand, using quality ingredients and time-worn artisanal methods, Gail’s soon established a name for itself and has come a long way since those early days.
Still, the stuff that matters – the ethos, the suppliers, the skill and a handful of tried-and-tested sourdough starter cultures – hasn’t changed.
A champion for sustainability, the bakery also prides itself on minimising food waste by carefully setting aside any leftover food and donating it to a selection of local charities in each eatery’s neighbourhood
On Twitter, someone said: “I wouldn’t mind knowing where he is either he’s [flame emoji].”
In all serious though, Humberside Police said of Robert Rimmer: “If you see him, or know where he is, please do not approach him but instead call us immediately on our non-emergency 101 line quoting investigation reference 20900368291.
“If you would prefer to report information anonymously you can do so via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”