Meet Rob Travis, Manchester Hall’s executive chef
As you can imagine, the Confidential team visits a lot of kitchens and meets a lot of chefs. It’s a fast moving business with chefs to-ing and fro-ing across different restaurants, but we think we’ve managed to find the longest continuously serving chef in Manchester.
Meet executive chef Rob Travis who has been cooking delicious dinners for countless events and celebrations at Manchester Hall since 1982, when he started as a commis chef.
Back in those days, Manchester Hall was a hotbed of hospitality for the Freemasons who were well known for their love of entertaining. There were no less than eighteen function rooms, with lots of different sized catering functions going on at one time.
So after being there for so long, where does he get his inspiration for shaking things up and keeping things relevant? “I learn a lot from the young chefs that have come through the kitchen doors over the years,” says Rob. “I also dine out with my wife as much as we can. Watch a lot of cookery shows telly (on catch up). You can never know everything, you can always learn from everyone around you.”
So if you visit the recently refurbished Manchester Hall for a wedding or a party, your food will have been cooked by Rob Travis and his team who oversee the cooking across all the events including weddings, birthday parties, conferences and sporting club events – after our chat he was rushing off to begin work on that night’s Manchester Sporting Club’s dinner with Harry Redknapp.
They specialised in traditional British food and can cater for groups of up to 400 people. All ingredients are sourced locally where possible and standards are high. “Basically if guests come to me with an idea we can make it for them,” says Rob. “Sometimes they say things like ‘I’ve eaten this on a cruise, can you make it for me?’ and we research the dish, practice it, and invite them in for a tasting.
Typical starters might include smoked salmon, dressed with shallots and caper berries, or traditional paté with shards of Melba toast. Everything is made in house from fresh savoury tarts, consommés and pastries. Main courses include things like beef Wellington, venison Wellington, lamb shank, lamb rump, and all types of fish.
Anyone planning a do in Manchester who wants excellent food in a gorgeous building needs to visit Manchester Hall and see Rob Travis, because he’s your man.