'We're just trying to adapt a more modern way of curating a menu in the food industry'

Alex South

Alex South


ahead of the relaunch of Michelin green AWARD restaurant hypha in Chester tomorrow, the staff canteen spoke to owner nicholas friar about why he is looking to create a more intiMATE and personal experience for customers whilst continuing to champion its vegan menu and sustainable practices.

Hypha’s dramatic location, sitting high on the historic walls of Chester, provides the perfect backdrop for its ambitious aims of providing experimental fine dining with a focus for sustainability.

After opening in 2019, Hypha set out originally on providing small plates with a zero waste and sustainable ethos.


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Commenting on the restaurant’s aesthetic, Managing Director Nicholas Friar explained: “We're not trying to change anybody, we're not free loving hippies wearing hemp sacks and stuff like that. We're just trying to adapt a more modern way of curating a menu in the food industry.”

He added: “A lot of the techniques that we're using now that are quite unique will probably be commonplace in the restaurant world I think, because they'll have to be quite frankly, it's just the way that obviously the food industry is going.”

Following lockdowns and disruption caused by the Covid pandemic, the restaurant has continued to place sustainability at the centre of its operations, returning as a tasting menu that sources ingredients from local suppliers, growers, and foragers.

Nicholas explained: “We will conceptualise a concept and a dish that could be completely against our principles, but then what we'll do is polish that down, work out the kinks, and we'll see where we can replace things.”

The change up in offerings coupled with the appointment of Laszlo Nagy as Hypha’s Head Chef in 2021, has led to the restaurant being awarded a Michelin green award for sustainability in the same year.

The award is a statement for Nicholas and his team, as it makes Hypha one of just 23 restaurants to receive the new accolade from Michelin, putting Nicholas’ brand at the forefront of sustainability efforts across the industry.


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“Laszlo has been incredible, he's really allowed us to drive the business forward. When we first opened, we were on quite a budget in the early days. It was me doing everything,” explained Nicholas.

Reflecting on the award and Laszlo’s impact on Hypha, Nicholas added: “We're excited to see where it [Hypha] can go, we keep coming up with crazy ideas… it's re-energised the creativity in the team.”

As well as picking up the Michelin green award in 2021, Hypha was also awarded with the TSC Sustainable Business of the Year 2021, highlighting their sustainable approach. 


Hypha offers a constantly evolving micro-seasonal tasting menu to match the environment, with the restaurant’s closed loop system providing a unique approach to food.

“If there's anything coming into the building that will eventually have a waste element to it, we'll try and think of something creative to do with it,” explained Nicholas.

He added: “If we can't think of anything to do with it, we have our industrial composter, that takes anything biodegradable and with a combination of churning and heat and microbes and magic, it turns those products into a nutrient dense compost in 24 hours. We then take that compost, we give that back to our growers, they will then grow our produce using that fertilizer and then we have a closed loop system.”

The closed loop system is an important and distinctive feature at Hypha, but one that Nicholas was keen to clarify was used at as a last resort if other alternatives could not be used, representing the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability.


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Hypha’s focus on creating a unique restaurant experience whilst focusing on sustainability and zero waste has many benefits including a significant reduction in outgoings for the business.

Highlighting this point, Nicholas said: “When people are doing stock takes and they're working out their gross profit margin, they'll generally have to accumulate their weekly wastage into that. It's something that we don't even have to think about really, so from a business sense as well, it is a sensible approach especially at the moment.”

Following rising energy prices and soaring inflation, coupled with a lack of government support, the UK’s hospitality sector is on a knife edge with closures already happening throughout the industry.

The current barrage of challenges means that no business is unaffected but for Nicholas and the team at Hypha some of those costs have been limited thanks to the company’s forward-thinking principles.

On the challenges being faced across the industry, Nicholas said: “It's an absolute nightmare at the moment, and I dread any letter coming through the front door because it's going to be another bill but the practice that we have in place does allow us a bit of wiggle room.”

Looking to the future, he added: “I think realistically, in the next five to ten years, most restaurants will be practicing some of the things that we preach, because I think there'll be either governing bodies coming in to tell them to do that, or they'll just realise that the actual costings, the amount of money they're throwing down the drain at the same time.”


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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 31st August 2022

'We're just trying to adapt a more modern way of curating a menu in the food industry'