In Manchester city centre’s NOMA district, Skof will have 36-covers and is being billed as ‘an unpretentious yet ambitious dining experience’ offering menus that are ‘deceptively simple yet brimming with technique and full of flavour’.
Barnes says he aims to remove some of the seriousness associated with tasting menu restaurants by 'bringing an element of surprise and joy to his guests', an approach that was evident with his Great British Menu win in 2020.
Originally from The Lakes, the 35-year-old has spent a total of 12 years working within Rogan’s restaurant group. He was head chef at Rogan & Co when it received a Michelin star, and executive chef at the group’s flagship L’Enclume when it gained its third Michelin star last year.
In 2014, while working with Rogan, Barnes won the Roux Scholarship. In 2017, he left Umbel restaurants for a senior role at three Michelin-star Danish restaurant Geranium, rejoining Rogan’s group a year or so later.
Skof will be owned and operated by Barnes but will form ‘part of the next iteration’ of Rogan’s Umbel Restaurants, where the group will ‘support talented individuals in opening their own restaurants and businesses’.
As such, Barnes will continue to work closely with the team of growers at Our Farm, Rogan's regenerative farm in the Cartmel Valley. He will receive regular deliveries from The Lakes, allowing him to utilise ‘ingredients grown with minimal environmental impact’.
Skof will be located within the terracotta tiled Hanover building, built by the Co-Operative Wholesale Society as a drapery warehouse in 1904.
Designed by London-based studio Blacksheep, the interiors will reference the dualities of Tom’s upbringing versus his new home in Manchester and the building’s character versus the city’s industrial history, echoing the natural and the urban, Edwardian and industrial.
The restaurant is described as ‘an inviting space bathed in natural light, which combines carefully restored original features with a refined, modern edge’.
“I am so excited to be opening my first restaurant, in Manchester. It feels like the right place for me. The food scene is changing so frequently, and everyone I’ve met has been incredibly welcoming. Growing up in Barrow-in-Furness, I knew I wouldn’t want to be too far from my childhood home and my family, so it’s the perfect place,” Barnes says.
“I am so grateful for Simon’s support, and I plan on utilising all the skills that he has taught me over the many years that we have worked together. I’m so happy with what we have achieved and look forward to this new chapter.”
Simon Rogan added: “It’s moments like these that make me so happy, and it’s so special to be able to help a chef who has worked with me for so long go on to realise his dreams. I’m so proud of Tom and everything he has accomplished. We’ve been working towards this moment for a while now, and I can’t wait for him to be able to show the world what he can do.”
A full interview with Tom Barnes will be published later this month.