Connor Black

Interview: Connor Black on taking the reins at Tom Kerridge’s The Bull & Bear, Manchester

Rising culinary star Connor Black is making his mark on Manchester’s food scene, having recently joined The Bull & Bear, in the UK city’s Stock Exchange Hotel, as Head Chef. The restaurant, which is part of the Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge’s portfolio, deals in elevated British comfort food served up in a stylish but laid back environment.

Supper sat down with 25-year-old Black, who hails from Surrey, to hear about his career so far, and to get his thoughts on joining the northern restaurant scene.



When did you first fall in love with cooking, and why?
From a young age I always watched my Dad cooking at home for the family; that initially sparked my interest in it. I then went on to work for Tom Kerridge at the age of 15, and it evolved from there.

How would you describe your culinary style?
I would say my culinary style is very similar to Tom’s. I use simple flavours paired with the very best ingredients. Having worked with Tom since I was 15 I’ve definitely inherited some of his style – however, with experience, I’ve been able to put my own twist on things.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
I think timing is the most important thing I have learnt from 10 years of being in kitchens. It’s crucial in a busy, high speed environment to be focused and hard working. 

Congratulations on your new role at The Bull & Bear. What do you hope to achieve at the restaurant?
I’m most looking forward to being a part of the Manchester food scene – there are some fantastic chefs in Manchester with really established restaurants. I want to get my name out there and show what I can bring to The Bull & Bear. I’m also enjoying building my team, developing the brigade and watching everyone flourish, with them being able to influence some of the dishes on offer.

Do you have a favourite dish on the menu?
I think my favourite dish on the menu would be the roasted hand dived scallop with picked crown prince pumpkin and smoked butter sauce. We use Orkney extra-large scallops which are 100g – 130g in weight, which makes the dish quite rare. We aim to use the best produce in all our dishes meaning our menu is very produce-led. Unfortunately this means the scallop dish is not on the menu all the time; if we can’t get the very best ingredients the dish won’t feature.

What is the The Bull & Bear’s approach to sustainability, and will you be focusing on that?
We try to use locally sourced ingredients where possible, and work closely with Stock Exchange Hotel to work with suppliers who are actively reducing their environmental impact and investing in certified carbon offset projects to reduce the carbon impact of the business.  

Where are you most looking forward to eating in Manchester?
I’ve heard fantastic things about District in Manchester’s Northern Quarter so I will absolutely be giving it a try. I’m also looking forward to trying Erst in Ancoats, a natural wine bar with seasonal small plates.

What do you want the guest experience at The Bull & Bear to be?
Our home is in the old trading floor of Manchester’s Stock Exchange Hotel, a grand, historic, elegant building steeped in history, but the guest experience at The Bull & Bear is very similar to Tom’s other restaurants. Anyone is welcome to dine with us; we want everyone to feel special and relaxed. It’s all about the customer feeling as happy and comfortable to dine with us in this luxurious setting as they would eating around their dining table at home. 

Which chefs have inspired you?
There have been a lot of chefs along the way that have inspired me. Tom has played a huge part and has been a massive inspiration to me and my career. I worked under Grant King when I made the move to Sydney in 2015 as Chef De Partie at Gastro Park – in the nine months I was there I learned a huge amount from him.

What is your favourite dish, and who cooks it?
I couldn’t put my finger on my favourite dish – my favourite restaurant, though, is the double-Michelin-starred Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark by Chef Paul Cunningham. The restaurant scene out there is really vibrant; that was a meal I’ll never forget!