Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

Masterchef semi-finalist opens dining club in Chorlton

Masterchef semi-finalist opens dining club in Chorlton

By Melanie Hughes

Masterchef semi-finalist and Chorlton resident, Jackie Kearney, is wowing diners in the heart of South Manchester with her vegetarian fare.

After doing several pop-up events she has decided to open up her own, and Manchester’s first, underground supper club.

The Hungry Gecko dining club is proving a hit with the locals and is well worth a visit for any vegetarian or meat-eater for that matter.

Although she is finding that being Manchester’s first has its pros and cons, one is that no-one knows what a dining club is!

She said: “I’ve had to explain what a dining club is, people don’t understand. They’re not sure whether they get fed or what!”

Basically, you go to Jackie’s house and she cooks you and around 10 other diners a fabulous meal. The menu is always changing but you can view it online beforehand. You can take your own drinks as well, something that will please many!

Conscious of the barrier she has to break through to tempt carnivores to opt for vegetarian food rather than a centre-piece meat dish was always going to be a difficult one.

“I need to keep making good food and keep developing as a chef and then hopefully that reputation will draw people and specifically, meat-eaters in,” said the vegetarian chef.

“It’s definitely a challenge, there’s a hurdle to be overcome there. It’s a natural reaction given how awful a lot of vegetarian food is. I know vegetarians who have stopped being vegetarians!”

Jackie took advice from Masterchef finalist and friend, Sara Danesin Medio, who has a dining club in York with her contemporary Italian food and was persuaded to do the same thing.

Cooking for 70+ people every night was beginning its toll and Jackie feels like she’s taken the best option for her family.

She said: “It’s such a joy to cook for 12 people and it’s such a doddle after what we’ve been doing.

“I realised that it was not the right time for me to open a restaurant. I go into some of these kitchens and realise that some of these chefs never see their families.

“I just felt like, after Masterchef, I had to grab every opportunity straight away and then I realised that that’s not a smart move and you have to think what you want to do.”

Her husband runs the front of house side of things and does so very well despite him being slightly unsure about the venture at first.

At first he was a weary about having strangers in the house but now you would never know it!

Jackie is planning to take her true love, Asian street food, to the streets of Manchester.

She said: “I’m hoping to be on the road with my van around March – that’s the plan. I may be getting a trailer rather than a van because the practicalities are you can tow the trailer with anything. Whereas if the van breaks down the whole kitchen’s in that van.

“It’s so far from the burger and chips thing and I just think Manchester will love that approach to food. To get a really nice plate of food, to go, that’s cost-effective, quick and really good quality.”

Jackie is hoping to set the trailer up in parts of Manchester City Centre as well so keep your eyes peeled! In the meantime you can attend her dining club but be sure to book in advance as places get snapped up quickly!

You can check out her website at http://thehungrygecko.blogspot.com/