‘My menu was copycat bullsh*t’ – Acclaimed chef slams his York restaurant

A classic dish from the Blind Swine. Photograph: Instagram
8 May 2016 @ 4.24 pm
| Food & drink

It was garlanded with praise and its chef was compared to everything from a rock god to the new Heston Blumenthal.

Michael O'Hare. Photograph: Twitter
Michael O’Hare. Photograph: Twitter
But The Blind Swine, which blazed a culinary path from its Swinegate home for a short but tasty time, has been dissed by its creator.

Michael O’Hare spills the beans (simmered till tender and tossed in a white truffle purée) in his interview for Restaurant.

Today he is acclaimed for his Leeds restaurant, The Man Behind The Curtain. But in the magazine’s interview with the man they describe as “the enfant terrible of the Northern restaurant scene”, they ask him about his the Blind Swine which closed in 2013.

He replies:

It was copycat bullshit. I just wanted to fit in and I felt I had to cook like that because I’d just done a stage at Noma.

The Swine was a bit trendier than The Man Behind The Curtain – stoneware plates and carrot tops everywhere. It was the style of cooking Noma popularised five years ago that the whole world still seems to be obsessed with.

I hope it’s on the way out, because René [René Redzepi, co-founder of Danish restaurant Noma] certainly doesn’t cook like that any more.

Well, we thought it was great Michael…

Downer on the name

Gone but not forgotten
Gone but not forgotten

Later he is asked about the name of his current restaurant – it is a line from the Wizard Of Oz.

Michael tells the magazine:

The Blind Swine was on Swinegate so it made sense but it was one of those The + adjective + animal ones at a time when everything was being called The Quirky Peacock and shit like that.

At least it didn’t contain Social, Kitchen or Street. I like The Man Behind The Curtain. It can’t be abbreviated or shortened and it doesn’t sound like a restaurant.

But having worked at some top restaurants in the capital he did prefer our city.

“I also did a stage with Nuno Mendes at Viajante,” he told interviewer Joe Lutrario. “He’s an incredible person to work with and I loved his food, but being in London got me down.

“I’d been living in York, which is a lot nicer than Bethnal Green.”

You can read the full interview with Michael here.