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Interview: Richard Turner is back in the kitchen at an impressive new Brindleyplace restaurant

 

Award-winning Richard Turner is back in the kitchen at a restaurant that is being tipped as the next-big-thing for Birmingham. In a city that has just retained its Michelin stars in the latest listing and with Richard having previously gained a Michelin-star at Turners of Harborne, the future is already looking bright for Maribel Restaurant.

Based in Brindleyplace, in the former site of Edmunds and sharing the same owners as Cielo and Nuvo, Maribel Restaurant is already receiving critical acclaim. We caught up with Richard Turner to find out more.

Tell us a little bit about Maribel and the concept behind it?

I wanted to go back into the kitchen and focus on creating great food, and that’s exactly where my focus is at Maribel. We are constantly evolving our menu to reflect the finest seasonal produce and best possible ingredients.

The restaurant is intimate and welcoming, and whilst we’re offering our four, six and nine course menus, we want it to be a relaxed dining experience. The team focuses on delivering stellar customer service, whilst I focus on the food.

What kind of cuisine can diners expect?

Our menu evolves each week to make sure that we’re offering dishes that reflect the seasons.

As we move into autumn, we’re now able to serve up some incredible flavours after the latest harvest. This week, our menu includes dishes such as Pork, parsnip, clams, pear, Stinking Bishop and peanut, and Venison, artichoke, chervil root, swiss chard, and cobnuts. We’ve also got an Eccles cake with Yorkshire blue, and Pruneaux d’Agen with milk skin, rice, plum. Some really great flavour combinations!

 

How do you keep up with the demand for a menu that changes it week and why did you decide to change the menu so regularly?

I wanted it to be seasonal, of course, but it’s about giving people variety and a reason to keep coming back. Every week, we’re in the kitchen creating new dishes to add to the menu so that our customers experience something new when they return. With different dining options, it would make no sense if someone came for business lunch one week and then returned to do the full nine-course menu and had the same dishes.

What are you hoping to achieve with Maribel?

Birmingham has an incredible food scene at the moment; retaining Michelin stars and winning European street food awards. I want Maribel to add to what’s already on offer, celebrating great food in a great city.

We’ve already had lots of my Harborne customers visit the restaurant, and it’s great to see them coming back, but I also want to reach out to an audience that has never eaten my food before to show them what we can do at Maribel.

Maribel is adding to the city’s existing independent, fine dining scene; not just our Michelin starred restaurants, but also the people who are really trying to offer something different and experiment with flavours.

What do you think makes the West Midlands’ restaurant scene so successful? Why is the rest of the UK only just recognising the wealth of cuisine we have here?

There’s no doubting how much Birmingham’s reputation has improved and a lot of that is largely down to the food scene in my opinion. The quality of the city’s restaurants helps to put the city on the map and showcase the level of what we’re doing here. You just have to look at the independent scene to see that there’s great work happening all the way from street food and pop-ups, to cool indies who are taking flavours to a new level. As well as the latest Michelin rating that saw Birmingham retain all of its stars.

We have such passionate chefs here – people who want to put the city on the map. Our diverse culture definitely helps this as it means we’re not just offering a variety of cuisine, but also fusing together traditional cooking styles from around the world. However, we can’t be complacent about this popularity; we need to stay on top of our game and make sure that we’re always serving up the best, highest quality food.

What do you think the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry are at the moment?

Finding and keeping good staff is the biggest challenge, by far. The UK doesn’t always promote the strength of the hospitality industry to young people so they don’t see it as a career, particularly the front of house roles; many see it as a stop-gap or way to earn money whilst studying, and this creates a problem when you need more experienced managers.

It’s also a very demanding career and one that has, historically, expected a lot from people. We live in a different world now and we can’t expect people to do 18 hour days, six days a week. I’m seeing lots of top restaurants now going down to four-day weeks for their staff; giving people a better work/life balance.

What do you think the next 10 years will look like for the UK’s restaurant scene?

The industry is going from strength to strength and will continue to do so. I think we’ll see independents continue to rise to the top, but we need property agents to make rental more accessible, especially in bigger cities, as this is crippling smaller businesses.

How do you think the journey of young, aspiring chefs will differ to the journey that you had, if at all, and what advice would you give to them?

I think it will be really different; the catering industry needs to look after its staff a lot more than it used to, so young chefs will be able to get a much better work/life balance than we did.

My main advice is just work hard and take in absolutely everything that you see. Absorb it all – the good and the bad! Life isn’t an Instagram account; it isn’t all perfect and you need to take the knock backs because they are what make you grow. At the end of the day, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

 

Maribel Restaurant is now open at 6 Brindleyplace, in the site of the former Edmund’s restaurant. The restaurant has had a busy few weeks, hosting dinners for the Conservative Party Conference and West Midlands Growth Company, as well as their first wine dinner in partnership with The Drinks Emporium.

Perfect for business lunches, celebratory dinners, date nights and private hires, Maribel is an intimate restaurant that brings the highest quality fine dining to Brindleyplace.

The restaurant offers a three-course lunch menu priced at £35 and available Tuesday-Friday lunchtimes. In addition to a four-course for £45, six-course for £65 and eight-course for £85, available Tuesday-Friday lunchtimes and Tuesday-Saturday evenings. The menus also come with Sommelier’s selection or Prestige selection wine flights.

To see the latest menu and to book a table, visit www.maribelrestaurant.co.uk.