The doyen of crowdfunded restaurants is up for an Estrella Damm National Restaurant Award

Award-winning chef, Twitter enforcer, TripAdvisor tormenter and now, serial restaurateur Gary Usher is up for Chef of the Year 2018 in the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards.

This puts him up against other luminaries of the culinary scene including Tom Kerridge, Andrew Wong, Simon Rogan, Gareth Ward and Nieves Barragán Mohacho. 

There's some big names in there. Luckily Usher's not lacking in self-belief, having crowdfunded hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years to expand his bistro empire, from Sticky Walnut in Chester to Burnt Truffle in Heswall, Hispi in Manchester and Wreckfish in Liverpool. 

The Chez Bruce and Gordon Ramsay-trained chef is now gearing up to launch another crowdfunding project for Pinion in Prescot and hopes to raise £50,000 in just 24 hours.

Not content with all that, there's also word the workhorse is planning to open his sixth restaurant, Kala, in Manchester city centre before the end of the year. Our bet is on King Street.

Sticky Walnut Staff
Gary Usher (right) with the Sticky Walnut team

Usher said: “Myself and the team have put loads of hard work into the last twelve months, with crowdfunding and opening Wreckfish, so it feels amazing to be recognised for this. 

"The support we received from the industry for the crowdfunding was really incredible and I couldn’t have done it without it. I’m totally made up to be sitting alongside these chefs in the shortlist, it’s actually really surreal and means a great deal.”

Last year, the Estrella Damm Top 100 UK restaurants saw Sticky Walnut feature at number 47, fighting off tough competition from the likes of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal which placed at 60. Hispi, meanwhile, featured at number 58 just eight months after opening.

The winner will be announced during a ceremony at London’s The Hurlingham Club on Monday 11 June.