Three chefs sizzle to success

This month, we’re looking at these three chefs who started from the bottom and made it big time.

dine. are celebrating the success stories of Gary Usher, Hideko Kawa and Emil Minev, so read on for some inspiration!

Gary Usher

Eccentric and unconventional are just two ways to describe the chef Gary Usher.

Gary owns a string of sister restaurants – Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle and Hispi – in the North West. Gary aimed for small bistro restaurants with informal décor.

The chef has become famous on social media with his personal and restaurant Twitter accounts, offering sassy repartees and far-from-PC tweets.

He once banned a TripAdvisor reviewer from his restaurants with colourful language after they left a critical review.

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Screenshot of one of the responses from Gary Usher about his restaurant, Burnt Truffle

His first restaurant, Sticky Walnut, opened in 2011 in Hoole, Chester and has increased in popularity ever since.

In 2014, it was awarded Restaurant of the Year at the AA Hospitality Awards as well as being ranked at number 30 in the National Restaurant Awards.

Gary then went onto crowdfund his next restaurant, Burnt Truffle. He managed to gather the money together, not only online, but by also organising pop ups and having customers pay what they think the food is worth.

After some initial difficulties, he was able to open the Burnt Truffle in Heswall in July 2015. He had turned down sites for this restaurant in big cities including Manchester and Liverpool, telling Big Hospitality that he preferred to keep to the simplicity that had made him so popular with Sticky Walnut.

Popularity for his food growing, Gary decided to open a third sister restaurant close to Manchester.

He crowdfunded and organised pop-ups and Hispi opened in October last year.

Gary has previously trained with big name chefs including Angela Hartnett at the York and Albany in Camden and Chez Bruce in Wandsworth.

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Gary Usher credit: Gary Usher twitter

He credits the Chez Bruce for turning him into the chef he has become and understands that to be on their level it takes time, practice and more than a handful of chefs.

He told Big Hospitality: “There was only me and one other chef with no experience. The one thing I could do was have good standards and serve simple food that tasted good.”

Gary announced plans to crowdfund his next restaurant, Wreckfish, with hopes to open it in 2017 near Liverpool.

Emil Minev

Bulgarian born chef, Emil Minev, has more the 25 years experience in the culinary industry.

His previous employers include The Ritz Hotel in London and Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai.

He has shown to be a creative and innovative chef that produces high standards of food for a range of restaurants.

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Emil Minev credit: Emil Minev twitter

In 2002, after having ten years’ experience as a chef under his belt, Emil decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London to improve his already vast skillset.

Le Cordon Bleu is a world-renowned cooking school with schools in London, Madrid and Paris.

Emil has since worked all over the world at high-end restaurants. For six years, he worked at the Shangri-La in The Shard, London as the executive chef.

Under his instruction, the Shangri-La restaurant won various awards and has had recognition in both TV and print media.

Since the beginning of last year, Emil has been the Culinary Arts Director at Le Cordon Bleu.

Emil told Le Cordon Bleu: “You have to love what you do and sometimes you have to be prepared to sacrifice. The success will come.”

The cookery school recognises him as one of their most successful alumni.

Hideko Kawa

Hideko Kawa is a renowned pastry chef that went from being a trainee chef at Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School, to working alongside Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay.

Hideko attended Le Cordon Bleu from 2003 to 2005 and still prides herself on using the techniques she learnt at the school.

Hideko Kawa in her chef whites. credit: Hideko Kawa

After leaving, she became head pastry chef at The Fat Duck, where she ran the pastry department.

Her unique and experimental style fit the role and she worked closely with the development team creating sweets for Heston.

Hideko worked for six years in Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as the pastry chef and has won numerous awards for her culinary talents.

Last year, she did a pop-up afternoon tea in association with Laurent Perrier, Wedgewood from April to May.

She has also had her culinary work shown on TV, notably on “Heston’s Great British Food” along with winning a variety of awards for her artistic pastries.

Hideko started her own company, The Sweet Art Lab, in 2014 and now acts as the food designer and consultant.

She caters for art galleries and well-known celebrities, along with being a dessert menu consultant and creating recipes for one of the best Michelin restaurant empires.


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