Mary-Ellen is a chef of twenty years’ experience, and a writer of at least two or three weeks’ experience, spread over that same twenty years.
She grew up north of Bury, in Lancashire, and left a languages degree to cook for touring bands at Manchester’s Roadhouse. Keen to gain more experience, she became the first female chef at Michelin-starred country house hotel, Sharrow Bay.
Mary-Ellen joined The Fat Duck in 2002 and progressed from the pastry section to become sous chef under Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts. She then worked on historical research and development at The Hind’s Head, contributing dishes to The Fat Duck’s menu.
In 2006 she left The Fat Duck and worked for Lancashire restaurateur Paul Heathcote before moving on to Ramsons, the award-winning restaurant in Ramsbottom.
Mary-Ellen was the chef/ proprietor of Aumbry in Prestwich from 2009 to 2014. It opened on a shoestring in 2009, and evolved to serve a thoughtful, contemporary British menu – starting with bread and warm dripping – which drew on historical influences and the best and most unusual of British seasonal produce. Mary-Ellen appeared on BBC2’s Great British Menu in 2013 and 2014, and both times reached the North West finals.
Since Aumbry closed in 2014, she has run literary-themed pop up events at Manchester’s Central Library and the Anthony Burgess Foundation, and was commissioned by Manchester International Festival in 2015 and 2017 to create dining experiences connected with Festival shows- both career highlights that involved working with food, art, lighting, sound and set design to create entertaining and unique food events.
More recently she has worked as Executive Chef for both the Real Junk Food Project Manchester and Manchester Art Gallery, and, in April 2018, opened the Creameries in Chorlton with her business partners, baker Sophie Yeoman, designer Soo Wilkinson and investment broker Pete Slack.
Mary-Ellen has recently returned to head up the Creameries kitchen after a summer of special food events, which included Manchester International Festival; a Nordic Midsummer Feast at Manchester Art Gallery; pop up dinners; a food and drink quiz, Still Life Suppers and chef collaborations at the Creameries; and she is DEFINITELY going to finish that book this year.