Photography by Katie O'Neill & Lilly Shields
Simon Martin is Chef-Patron at Mana in Manchester's Ancoats district. In 2018 he won the city’s first Michelin star in over four decades. Inspectors praised the restaurant’s 'exciting modern dishes with Nordic influences'.
Simon was born in 1991 in Warrington and grew up in Shropshire. He started his career aged 16 at the 1-star restaurant The Chester Grosvenor in Chester and then moved on to work in Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Australia. On his return to England, he spent two years at Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, before joining and the legendary ‘Noma’ in Copenhagen where he honed his skills working alongside visionary chef René Redzepi. "The experience taught me to look at food very differently”.
Simon Martin - Patron/chef, Mana Manchester
With the culmination of all that experience, in 2018 Simon opened Mana in Ancoats - described by Time Out as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods. Simons explains, “I needed an empty building and were really fortunate that there were so many independent business around here, in a thriving up and coming area”. One year after opening, Simon and his team had landed Manchester’s first Michelin star, the first since 1979.
It’s almost feels like fate has drawn us to Ancoats.
Mana - Blossom St, Ancoats
A unique dining experience
The restaurant’s food style is eclectic, sea food driven and very natural. Through travel and research, Simon and his team attempt to rediscover our land and our waters, in an attempt to establish a new and delicious identity for the British kitchen with the guest, at the forefront of their efforts.
THE SHOOT: Mana Restaurant, Ancoats, Manchester
Simon's Michelin star restaurant in the heart of Ancoats - one of Manchester's and the UK's coolest new neighbourhoods
Student reflection: Lilly Shields
The shoot took place at his Michelin star restaurant “Mana” in Ancoats. Simon and the staff were very welcoming and this was an incredible opportunity to directly test out my photography skills.
We started the shoot by photographing Simon in the dining area of the restaurant against the hanging tubular lights. We used our two trusty LED wands to make sure we evenly lit the shot. We then moved on in-front of and inside the kitchen area where you could tell Simon felt very comfortable and the shots turned out amazing.
We completed the shoot outside Mana, photographing in the middle of the street in the strong winter sunshine and the long shadows... this was really tricky. We managed to pull of a few strong images giving off a real Ancoats vibe.
Photographing Simon was an enjoyable experience, you could tell he had been in-front of a camera many times before. He was experienced and knew what poses worked best for him, yet he was very open to trying new ideas... he was a pleasure to work with.
This was a fantastic opportunity and one I won’t forget. Being apart of the Greater Mancunians project was just an all in all amazing experience and has definitely boosted my confidence in photography as a whole. In the future I do hope I will be asked to join another shoot.
Lilly, Simon & Katie
Sometimes photographers come in to a shoot not knowing what they're looking for, but you were both confident, which made for a pleasant experience - Simon Martin