The Michelin-guide eatery will serve a 'Back to Basics' menu without power

The energy bill crisis is forcing hospitality businesses all over the country to rethink their future. Now, one Michelin-guide restaurant is protesting the impact of spiralling energy costs on the hospitality sector by opening without using electricity or gas.

This is a light-hearted way to make a serious point about our industry.

Next Door in Frodsham is hosting the "Back to Basics" event on Wednesday 19 October which will feature a nine-course tasting menu, with no gas or electricity being used on the evening or in the preparation of the dishes.

Next Door Restaurant Frodsham Cheshire Richard Vicki Nuttall2
Richard and Vicki Nuttall Image: Next Door

Richard Nuttall, head chef and co-owner of Next Door in Cheshire, said “We’ll be cooking solely on charcoal, using no refrigeration, no technology, all by candlelight. 

“We are 100% committed to zero power, even in the preparation of the courses. It’s pushing us well out of our comfort zones to operate like this and keep up our usual high standards.

“Our suppliers have been incredibly supportive of our ambition and are delivering fresh goods immediately before they are due to cook due to the lack of cold storage.”

The move comes after accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young reported a 64% increase in the number of restaurant insolvencies this year compared to last, with more than 1,400 premises permanently closing.

The Frodsham restaurant has built a reputation as one of Cheshire’s best rated fine dining destinations. But a perfect storm of rising inflation, the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy costs is creating a huge challenge for the business.

Next Door Restaurant Frodsham Cheshire Richard Vicki Nuttall
The fine dining restaurant in Frodsham Image: Next Door

Whilst the Government has stepped in to help with a scheme to push down energy costs for businesses, the support will only last until March 2023 and bills remain far in excess of their previous level.

Sommelier and co-owner Vicki Nuttall said, “This event is a bold statement of independence and defiance against the ever-tightening constraints faced by our sector.

“We’ve already watched some of our favourite restaurants and pubs forced to close their doors, despite being busy – this is our way of showing that this isn’t acceptable.”

The one-off evening has been months in the making, with every single element carefully considered to ensure that quality is maintained at all times. 

“Planning the evening has really made us appreciate just how much we rely on technology in all aspects of the business, from the cookery through to drinks pairing and facilities, it all becomes a challenge,” added Vicki. 

"From a drinks perspective, we’ve chosen wines which will work well at higher average temperatures, our arrival cocktail developed with the help of Three Wrens Gin is a warm apple punch! We’re cold brewing our coffee and serving herbal teas from the fire to finish."

Next Door Restaurant Frodsham Cheshire Back To Basics Energy Crisis Cost Living
A menu of manual skill and raw innovation, combined with age-old techniques Image: Next Door

Customers are being invited to leave behind their modern-day comforts for the evening, as they go "off-grid" in the restaurant’s 17th century building. They will dine by candlelight with live instrumentals, no electronics, no heating, no card payments, and definitely no Wi-Fi.

Richard Nuttall and his team of chefs look forward to rising to the occasion and delivering a night to remember. 

Richard said, “We plan to serve a menu of manual skill and raw innovation combined with age-old techniques such as smoking, curing, fermentation with the freshest ingredients.”

Vicki added, “This is a light-hearted way to make a serious point about our industry.”

Next Door, 68 Main Street, Frodsham WA6 7AU

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