New restaurant from County Durham MasterChef star ‘smashes’ crowdfunding target

A County Durham chef who found fame on one of the nation’s most beloved cooking shows is set to launch his own restaurant in the heart of his hometown.

Mike Bartley, who featured on the 2021 series of BBC MasterChef, has unveiled plans to open his new restaurant Jörd in the centre of Bishop Auckland. And now Mike is set to take his first step into the restaurant business,

Following his appearance on the show, Mike interned in Michelin-star kitchens before launching successful private-dining enterprise Djam Kitchen to bring restaurant-quality dishes to people in their own homes. He has since secured residencies in various venues and exhibited at some of the North East’s most popular food festivals.

Mike explained: “I have loved being a private chef over the past two years. But a restaurant has always been in the back of my mind and when I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was the right time to take the leap.”

Jörd (pronounced ‘you-rd’) is the Norse goddess of the Earth and literally translates to ‘land’ or ‘soil’ in several Scandinavian languages. Mike chose the name to highlight the connection between his cooking style and the land around the restaurant, using ingredients that are foraged and locally grown.

Mike said: “A strong connection to the land is so important for me. Not only are ingredients at their freshest when they are harvested on the same day that they are served, but the quality is far superior to supermarket produce. My food waste is turned into compost, which feeds the next batch of crops and creates a perpetual cycle of sustainability.”

Part of the town’s £12m Kingsway Quarter transformation scheme, which will see neglected high street buildings and brownfield wasteland transformed into a new central hub, Jörd will be located on Newgate Street.

To realise his ambitions of launching Jörd in 2024, Mike launched a crowdfunding campaign via online fundraising platform Kickstarter to raise £35k, smashing his goal weeks ahead of the campaign’s deadline.

As a crowdfund backer, there are a number of pledges that can be made and each pledge comes with a range of rewards, including discounted tasting menu experiences and corporate events. The crowdfunding campaign will run until 27 October.

Mike concluded: “My aim is for Jörd to be a place where diners would feel comfortable and trust us with their most special occasions, and the quality of the fit-out needs to reflect this. All money raised will go towards maximising the potential of the restaurant as an addition to my existing capital.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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