Writer’s work for Manchester Confidential shortlisted for Restaurant Writer of the year

Manchester Confidential’s own Olivia Potts has been shortlisted for Restaurant Writer of the Year in the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2024.

The awards will be announced on 2 May following the final decisions by an expert panel of judges chaired by Michelin-starred titan of British cooking, Angela Hartnett OBE. 

Olivia’s nomination - “for work in Manchester Confidential” - places her alongside the Financial Times’ legendary reviewer (and Gordo’s hero), Tim Hayward as well as Isaac Rangaswami for his work in the popular food newsletter Vittles.

I’ve loved writing for Confidentials over the last year, and am so grateful to them for giving me a place to learn and write about Manchester food culture

The work that bagged the nomination was Olivia’s deft and often humorous reviews of both the sublime and the ridiculous in the North West’s restaurant scene.

Her review of The White Swan at Fence - asking "...if a Michelin-starred gastropub is really a pub at all" - found her travelling out to Burnley and bestowing a rarely seen 18/20.

In it she said: "The thing is, with a place like The White Swan, you can pick apart the constituent parts, interrogate how each of the dish’s elements – the venison, the artichoke, the damson – work individually and alongside one another, but actually the experience makes all of this analysis feel silly. 

"This is food that surprises without being gimmicky, that is greater than the sum of its parts, that makes you leave with a smile on your face. Is The White Swan really a pub? When it’s this good, I simply don’t care."

The White Swan At Fence Exterior Venison White Swan Fence

Meanwhile when our Editor-at-Large Jonathan Schofield was curious about the food on offer at nearby MNKY HSE by Albert Square, who better to send than an award-winning food writer?

In a fair and reasonable skewering, Olivia said: "MNKY HSE is unflinchingly, offensively geared towards demonstrative cash-splashing. The menu is a roll-call of the most expensive produce and dishes available – wagyu beef, truffle, ceviche, lobster – and seems to have been curated with one idea in mind: how much money can we make a punter spend?"

2023 06 05 Mnky Hse – Exterior 2023 06 05 Mnky Hse – Wagyu Sliders

On being shortlisted, Olivia said: “I’m thrilled to be shortlisted for the restaurant writer award. It’s a real honour (and surprise!) to be recognised by the judges who I know are so meticulous in their work. 

“I’ve loved writing for Confidentials over the last year, and am so grateful to them for giving me a place to learn and write about Manchester food culture. We have such fantastic restaurants in the North West, so it’s a particular joy to be shortlisted for writing about them, and I’m proud to be listed alongside such brilliant writers.”

Potts Fortnum Nomination
Olivia Potts Image: Jamie Drew

On seeing one of his writers shortlisted, founder and publisher of Confidentials, our very own Mark Garner, said: "When Olivia caused me to burst out laughing reading a recipe in her award-winning, best-selling cookbook Butter, I knew I had to get her on my restaurant reviewing team - the best bunch of food writers in the North. She would be a real asset.

"For Olivia to be shortlisted in Fortnum & Mason’s prestigious food writing awards alongside Isaac Rangaswami from Vittles and Tim Haywood, restaurant critic at the Financial Times, makes me a very proud man. 21 years of quality, authority and prestige at Confidentials along with our commitment to giving old and new talent a chance to shine is what makes us the best in the region."

Congratulations to Olivia from all of the Confidentials team for a much-deserved nomination. 

For more information on the awards, including the panel of judges and the other awards up for grabs, visit the Fortnum & Mason website.

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