Having been rumoured for some time, chef, Roux Scholar, Great British Menu winner and Simon Rogan alumnus Tom Barnes has finally confirmed that he will be opening his first restaurant in Manchester next year. The former executive chef of three Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume in Cartmel, Lake District will open Skof, a 36-cover restaurant in the NOMA neighbourhood in Manchester city centre.
With a vision to create an unpretentious yet ambitious dining experience in the North, Tom Barnes will open Skof on Federation and Hanover Street, just a stone’s throw away from New Century. Known as one of the most skilful young chefs in the country, Tom has been developing menus that are deceptively simple yet brimming with technique and full of flavour.
As a chef in some of the best restaurants in the world, his dishes are naturally in season, with local ingredients taking centre stage. Tom also aims to remove some of the seriousness associated with tasting menu restaurants by bringing an element of surprise and joy to his guests, which was evident with his Great British Menu win in 2020.
After 12 years with Simon Rogan at UMBEL Restaurants, notably, as head chef at Rogan & Co when it received a Michelin star, and executive chef at L’Enclume when it gained its coveted third star, Tom will be moving away from The Lakes yet will remain closely linked to the group. Skof will be owned and operated by Tom but will form part of the next iteration of UMBEL Restaurants, where the group will support talented individuals in opening their own restaurants and businesses.
As part of this new venture, Tom will continue to work closely with the team of growers at Our Farm, Simon’s regenerative farm in the Cartmel Valley. He will receive regular deliveries from The Lakes, allowing him to utilise ingredients grown with minimal environmental impact.
Skof will be situated within the terracotta tiled Hanover building, built by the Co-operative Wholesale Society as a drapery warehouse in 1904. Designed by London-based studio Blacksheep, the interiors will reference the dualities of Tom’s upbringing versus his new home in Manchester and the building’s character versus the city’s industrial history, echoing the natural and the urban, Edwardian and industrial. The restaurant will be an inviting space bathed in natural light, which combines carefully restored original features with a refined, modern edge.
On the decision to choose Manchester as the location for his first solo restaurant, Tom said: “I am so excited to be opening my first restaurant in Manchester. It feels like the right place for me. The food scene is changing so frequently, and everyone I’ve met has been incredibly welcoming. Growing up in Barrow-in-Furness, I knew I wouldn’t want to be too far from my childhood home and my family, so it’s the perfect place.
“I am so grateful for Simon’s support, and I plan on utilising all the skills that he has taught me over the many years that we have worked together. I’m so happy with what we have achieved and look forward to this new chapter.”
Simon Rogan, chef/owner of UMBEL Restaurants, commented: “It’s moments like these that make me so happy, and it’s so special to be able to help a chef who has worked with me for so long go on to realise his dreams. I’m so proud of Tom and everything he has accomplished.
“We’ve been working towards this moment for a while now, and I can’t wait for him to be able to show the world what he can do. He is a seriously talented chef, so I know Skof is going to be amazing!”
Skof will open in Manchester in spring 2024 and you can sign up to be one of the first in the know here.