Outspoken chef leaves Rabbit in the Moon and their upcoming hotel and restaurant projects

MICHELIN starred chef Michael O’Hare has stepped down from his role as creative director of Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s GG Hospitality group – which includes the Hotel Football and Café Football brands.

Middlesbrough-born O’Hare – who scooped a star last year for his Leeds restaurant, Man Behind The Curtain – was hired by the hospitality company in 2016. O’Hare replaced Michael Wignall, following his move to Gidleigh Park, Devon where he subsequently retained its two-star rating.

When O’Hare took on the role, he pledged to bring a Michelin star back to Manchester (an honour last awarded to the city in 1974 at The French in the Midland Hotel) with his new ‘space age Asian’ restaurant, Rabbit in the Moon.

The cosmic fine-dining restaurant opened on the top floor of Urbis in January 2017 with an uncompromising set price tasting menu (one which didn’t cater for vegetarians), a monochrome dining room plastered with brutal graffiti and a booming hip-hop soundtrack.

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Rabbit in the Moon pre relaunch

However, the Michelin inspectors weren’t swayed this time by O’Hare’s bold style - including dishes such as scarlet-hued char sui octopus, Wagyu nigiri and Kimchi duck broth - and Manchester’s Michelin hopes were once again dashed.

In an attempt to shake things up, head chef Luke Cockerill was suddenly relieved of duties in September 2017 and replaced earlier this year by chef John Granaghan, who relaunched the restaurant with characteristic edginess but a lighter and more accommodating approach (veggies now welcome).

Granaghan has refreshed the menu with dishes like hand-dived scallops with XO Sauce and crispy beef in black bean sauce with nasi goreng. Rabbit in the Moon’s front of house team is now being overseen by the excellent Charlotte Rasburn who, it seems, has done away with both the heavy soundtrack and the black bog roll.

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Rabbit's head chef Luke Cockerill was removed in 2017

The split means O’Hare will also have no part to play in the group’s Stock Exchange project on Norfolk Street - a 35-bedroom boutique hotel due to feature two restaurants by the chef, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Are Friends Electric. 

A spokesperson for GG Hospitality said:

"Michael O’Hare has stepped down as culinary creative director of GG Hospitality. 

"Michael made the decision to focus on his critically acclaimed restaurant, The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds. Fine dining restaurant The Rabbit in The Moon will continue to operate under the guidance of head chef John Granaghan and front of house Charlotte Rasburn, both formally of one Michelin star The Man Behind The Curtain. 

"Plans for Stock Exchange Hotel’s restaurant, which is set to open early in 2019, will be revealed over the next few months."

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O’Hare will have no part to play in the group’s Stock Exchange project on Norfolk Street