Chefs defend Manchester food scene after criticism from footballer’s wife | Manchester
The wife of a Manchester City footballer has been told to go out more and stop choosing restaurants based on their Instagram appeal, after claiming the food in her new hometown in the north of England was “awful” and “all frozen”.
Sara Arfaoui, an Italian model who married Man City captain İlkay Gündoğan earlier this year, said in an Instagram Q&A that she had “tried so hard to find a good restaurant” but that Mancunian restaurants are focused on “make money with drinks”. and pulled[s] like a nightclub” instead of providing quality food.
Ben Chaplin, whose food at the Black Friar gastropub was hailed by Jay Rayner for being “deeply beautiful and deeply edible”, said footballers’ wives tend to stick to a small number of restaurants offering dishes designed more for Instagram than for refined palates.
He worked for three years at 20 Stories, a rooftop restaurant beloved by the football fraternity. “People don’t go there for the food. They go there to take pictures to say ‘look how high I am in Manchester’. These are the kind of places these people eat. These are places that produce food because they are Instagrammable places.
Gary Usher, owner of Manchester restaurants Kala and Hispi, said he was happy not to serve footballers.
“We have two restaurants in Manchester and I’m really glad the footballers and their wives aren’t coming as I would question our offer if they did. Good taste and class are hardly synonymous with footballers’ wives and of their leopard print-themed movie theaters,” he tweeted.
Chaplin insisted Afaoui and Gündoğan were welcome, saying former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was already a regular. “I don’t think they looked for decent places. I think they looked for places that look good on Instagram,” he said.
Simon Wood, the head chef of Grace Dent-approved Wood, which specializes in “non-intimidating high-end meals”, said: “I’m going to call Sara Arfaoui on the fact that she hasn’t been to every restaurants in Manchester. I know for a fact that she didn’t go to my house. We are frequented by some City players, so they obviously don’t chat in the dressing room. She is welcome to come and try us out and if it’s not up to her expectations she can come into the kitchen and show us how it’s done.
Gary Weir, chef-owner of local catering and consulting firm Hot Buttered & Co, suggested Arfoui get out more. “Perhaps she doesn’t have the instinct or the curiosity that would lead her very quickly to one of the many amazing independent restaurants Manchester has to offer these days: Erst, The Jane Eyre, Sparrows, for to name a few. Maybe they’re not smart enough for her to be seen? In which case I wonder why she doesn’t hang out with Mana, or even the top floor of part-[Pep] The Tast restaurant, owned by Guardiola. What would you say [Rio] Ferdinand’s Rosso for his Italian hit? Or Yuzu for the freshest Japanese food available? »
Bev Craig, the leader of Manchester City Council, said Arfoui was talking ‘nonsense’, adding: ‘Manchester’s restaurant scene has transformed over the past decade. It’s one of the reasons why, from Time Out to The Economist, Manchester consistently ranks among the best cities in the world, something thousands of people around the world would disagree with.