Grafene Assembles Top Team

Award-winning restaurant & bar talent formed for new King Street venture

By Lee Isherwood | 6 July 2016

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RISING stars of the North’s food and drink sector have been appointed to key positions at Grafene, the Manchester restaurant and bar which opens to the public Friday July 22nd.Head Chef Damien Cunliffe joins from the popular Volta bar and restaurant in West Didsbury, a CityLife award winner for Best Restaurant in 2014, where he was Senior Sous Chef.


It is a return to King Street for Damien, as he was a Senior Sous Chef at the now-closed but much-celebrated Room restaurant. The 5,750 sq ft, 190-cover restaurant is a £1m investment in the city’s dynamic food and drink scene. Its dramatic interior and a contemporary design is inspired by Manchester’s science innovation, including the new ‘wonder stuff’ 2D material Graphene.

Damien’s role will be overseen by Executive Chef Darren Goodwin, the Head Chef of the four-star Losehill House Hotel and Spa. Joining Damien in the kitchens as Sous Chefs will be Phil Smith, from the Alderley Edge Hotel restaurant in Cheshire, which sports 3 AA Rosettes, and Sean Forshaw, Head Chef of Ramsbottom’s Hearth of the Ram, winner of the 2014 Michelin Bib Gourmand Award.

Grafene owner Paul Roden says: “We have assembled a talented team with a proven track record of success, each of them has a wealth of experience and enthusiasm making for a hugely enjoyable bar and dining experience for all guests.

“Chef Damien’s creativity and work ethic goes hand-in-hand with the rest of our expert team. The staff have already began working together and it’s extremely exciting to see them full of passion and ideas. We’re really looking forward to opening.”


Together the team will offer an eclectic menu from breakfast through to dinner which will comprise a daily-changing market-based a la carte menu, a 7-course taster menu and interesting small plate options. An open pastry kitchen will stand in the heart of the restaurant, and is headed by expert Pastry Chef Cristina Molinari, whose experience includes working the famous London Buddha Bar and the legendary Ritz Hotel in Paris.

As well as the impressive culinary team, Grafene boasts an island bar fronted by Bar Manager Chris Jew, the former Head Bar Tender at the critically-acclaimed Manchester House and latterly the Bar Manager at city centre’s Artisan. Chris is one of the region’s most celebrated mixologists in the North West, complementing a superb wine list and the introduction into Manchester of the Pommery champagne label, alongside local artisan craft beers and cocktails.

General Manager of the highly-successful Grill on New York Street, Kelly Wimbleton, joins as General Manager and Alchemy Event Bars’ Nick Wadeson will be Deputy General Manager, who himself is the two-time winner of UK cocktail bartender of the year.