MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 finalist Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga takes over the kitchen at BLVD Manchester

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 finalist Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga is set to embark on his first solo venture  at BLVD in Manchester, where he has taken the reins of the kitchen 

Since competing on the BBC programme three years ago, the former chef de partie at James Martin Manchester has worked at multiple venues belonging to BLVD's parent company, Tokyo Industries, helping to manage their outsourced food offering at the restaurant as well as as two of their other Manchester venues, Gorilla and Impossible.

As of the launch tomorrow, the food side of BLVD will be entirely his own, while drinks will continue to be overseen by Tokyo Industries.

He will be serving an a la carte menu of pan-Asian tapas style plates, with tasting menus served on special occasions and bottomless brunch at the weekends.

All dishes on the a la carte menu will be available in two different sizes to encourage sharing, whether in a small or larger group.

Nibbles will include lotus crisps with chilli salt and prawn crackers with sweet chilli jam and nori, with mains of tempura curried calamari coated with black sesame served with a curry mayonnaise, and sliders filled with a choice of teriyaki fillet steak, sesame chicken or crispy chilli cauliflower.

Sliders; Panko King prawns, Katsu sauce

BLVD has historically been a drinks-forward business, but the chef said his soft launch showed that people are keen to come chiefly for the food, and he will be working to build on that clientele. 

"I'm looking to push the food out more - I want people to be coming in and talking about this," he said in an interview with The Staff Canteen. 

He added that was as excited as he was nervous for the launch, but that he is optimistic about starting his own business as the industry gets back on its feet.

"It's my first time doing something like this, getting my own team in - the amount of legal work and paperwork and registering everything - it's good practice for when I open my own place," he said. 

The chef has a full team in place, for which he knows to be grateful. "I didn't even need to advertise it," he said, as many chefs expressed their interest to him directly. "So I just selected a full team that I thought would work." 

Is opening a restaurant now a good idea? "After everything that's happened in the industry, people think I'm crazy," he laughed. "But it looks like all of the restrictions are lifting so hopefully we're on the right path." 

"I just want to make good food. Manchester deserves a place where you can get good, affordable food." 

Waldorf salad, pickled walnuts, ginger yoghurt


In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 2nd February 2022

MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 finalist Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga takes over the kitchen at BLVD Manchester