A CHEF who has prepared meals for some of football’s biggest stars including Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham is behind the menu at a new ‘clean food’ cafe in Stretford Mall.Gary Yule, is cooking up a storm at the shopping centre’s newly-launched ‘Uplift’ which is on a mission to fuel up gym goers.
The 39-year-old from Stretford has worked with Michelin star chef Aiden Byrne and trained under one of the country’s most successful pastry chefs Michael Nadell.
Gary says his focus has always been on high quality food and he’s excited about his new challenge working for fitness enthusiasts Paul and Georgie Grzesiak, who have launched Uplift with a vision to serving a range of meals made with whole foods and packing a powerful nutritional punch.
Everything is made in-house at Uplift, even the breads, using as much local produce as possible and catering for every dietary requirement.
Among the products on offer will be a dairy-free, nut milk drinks range launched by The Apprentice runner up Camilla Ainsworth, who owns Blackburn-based M+LKPLUS.
Uplift are also serving coffees and teas from Brew Britannia based in Oldham, and honey from Old Trafford based Art of Honey.
Gary previously worked at the luxurious Macdonald Craxton Wood Hotel & Spa near Chester and Knutsford’s Mere Golf Resort and Spa, where famous faces have included former Manchester United stars Ronaldo and Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, England cricket legend Freddie Flintoff.
Speaking about the menu at the new Uplilft café in Stretford Mall, Gary said: “Everything is made in house, from the breads to the pulled pork smoked on the premises.
“We’ve reduced saturated fats so certain oils and butters are out. We’ll be using avocado and coconut oils.
“We’ve reduced the calorific value of sugars and there is a lot of proteins. We start from 7am with breakfasts such as clean sausage patte, eggs benedict or scrambled, overnight oats, housemade granola and yoghurt, and protein pancakes.
“For lunch we’ve got pizzas from our stonewalled oven, burgers, sweet potato jackets, pulled pork wraps, vegetable mezze selections and a mackerel dish which is full of omega 3 and is not a fish you find on many menus.
“Then customers have the option to build their own box to suit their needs so you pick a protein like chicken or steak, a carb such as sweet potato or brown rice, salad or veg, and then a sauce such as piri piri or sweet chilli.
“We cater for every dietary requirement and have lots of gluten free options so there is quite a bit of work involved!”
Uplift owners Paul and Georgie Grzesiak are both keen members at Pure Gym at Stretford Mall where they enjoy training, and need nutritionally balanced meals to get the best from their workouts.
They are hoping to encourage fellow gym members to eat their high protein, low carb options and are delighted to have a highly-talented chef on board to make it happen.
Father-of-four Paul, 43, said: “We put a post on Facebook asking about a chef and one of Gary’s friends tagged him.
“We had a chat and he came in for an interview, and that was it. He was looking for something a bit different to what he’d done before. It was a perfect match.
“I wasn’t expecting to find someone with his experience and knowledge – he’s a diamond.
“I was looking more to a cook and developing a menu with them. With Gary’s knowledge the menu is going to be better than it was ever going to be.”
He added: “Launching a new business, there is a nervous excitement. I’ve served a million customers before in my previous role at Tesco but now it’s on me.
“I have to make sure all the systems are in place and it all flows. There is that constant pressure.
“But doing all this, I know it was the right thing to do in terms of the menu and what we’re offering. I’ve had no second thoughts, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Stretford Mall shopping centre manager Gareth Wilkins said: “I’m delighted that Paul and Georgie have launched their new business venture here at Stretford Mall as it demonstrates the confidence businesses have in the shopping centre.
“In Gary Yule they have a very talented and highly experienced chef who judging by the menu is cooking up some delicious meals.
“I wish the whole team the best of luck, Uplift will be a real asset to the mall and complement the wide variety of eating options we currently have at the centre.”
Gary said: “It was a fantastic experience working with Aiden Byrne during my time at Craxton Wood, where I was based for about 18 months to two years.
“I remember we had Freddie Flintoff in there once but it was in my role at Mere Golf and Country Club where there would be a lot of famous people.
“Practically every celebrity in the North West goes there. In my time we had the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson coming in as well as most of the Coronation Street, cast and once we had David Cameron too.
“Some would come into the kitchen and speak to us, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton used to do that a lot. I remember working when it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s testimonial golf day.
“I’ve got to meet some famous people along the way but it was always more about the food than that for me. It was a great experience at Mere because it was a huge kitchen. We did a lot of banqueting and I got to work alongside the pastry chef.”
Speaking about his new role, he added: “This is a new challenge and it’s on my doorstep so it ticks all the boxes. The nutritional side, I’ve not gone into depth on over the years.
“I know all aspects of cooking but nutritional break down is not a major thing we chefs take into account. It’s been an interesting challenge to get my teeth into. It’s the kick in the bum I needed because catering has gone stale.
“There are a lot of chains and a lack of professional cooking. This has been really good for me.
“The important thing is we create healthy food that is tasty. It’s also good to see Stretford Mall being developed and to be part of it.
“It’s an exciting time with new premises going in, including ourselves. It should pull a lot of people into the area.”
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