Michael O’Hare is Chef Patron of The Man Behind The Curtain – a Michelin Star restaurant in Leeds.
In early 2015, ahead of his success on the BBC’s Great British Menu, Michael wanted to refresh his ‘dining experience’ copy on his fledgling restaurant website to explain what it feels like to experience his food in his surroundings.
Although it only remained a consideration, as his website took a different direction where copy wasn’t required, I’m still proud of the work.
Welcome. Owner Michael O’Hare explains what lies in wait for you at The Man Behind The Curtain.
I haven’t reinvented the wheel here – this is, after all, a restaurant. But it’s a restaurant that brings back the old British values of etiquette, dress and refinement. It’s a restaurant that delivers contemporary fine dining in stylish and modern surroundings.
It’s a restaurant that does away with the stuffiness and formality of most other fine dining establishments. It’s an occasion; a destination; a reason to dress up in dandyish or glamorous fashion.
It’s a restaurant where diners can go for dinner and really mean it.
Our goal is to create a restaurant that serves ultra-modern food with its own identity. It’s fine dining. We’re not afraid to say it, even if other chefs seem to avoid the term through fear of being labelled as ‘inaccessible’.
The story behind the concept – and the man
I used to work at Noma, one of the world’s most prestigious restaurants in Denmark, which had more staff than guests per service. It’s an incredible restaurant that I’d highly recommend visiting, but there’s one major problem with the place – a high percentage of the staff are unpaid.
Noma is dependent on free labour. If every staff member had to be paid, the restaurant would fold. This model is repeated at eateries all over the world, including the widely revered (but ultimately ill-fated) Elbulli in Catalonia, where staffing was high and losses were even higher.
At The Man Behind The Curtain we have a low chefs-to-guest ratio. That’s how it has to work. If we employed the model of Noma or Elbulli we’d go bankrupt.
The key to success is cooking smarter and being more organised than other kitchens – while never compromising on creativity, value or our progressive ethos.