Nottingham not-quite-a-restaurant from MasterChef winner Louisa Ellis

Nottingham chef Louisa Ellis, a past winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, has launched a ‘food and event-focused’ project in a former Methodist church in the city.

Destination 105, in Lady Bay’s Trent Boulevard, does not operate as a conventional restaurant. Instead, it hosts one-off ‘dining experiences’ ranging from tasting menus, three-course menus and Sunday dinners to collaborations with guest chefs.

Louisa, who made the MasterChef final three in 2017 and won it three years later, has established herself as a private and event chef, selling her matcha fudge by mail order. She has also worked with Curious Cat Distillery to develop gins flavoured with spiced blood orange and banana and yuzu.

She says Destination 105 was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” – “it’s amazing, and the next step for me in my career. I am super-excited, not only to have a space to cook my own food, but to invite other chefs to come in from all round the UK.

People can’t always travel to London or Birmingham so it would be great to bring guest chefs here for collaborations, hence the name Destination 105. It’s very much is a place for people to come as a community and hopefully have a really good time.

It’s quite emotional actually that it’s finally come round. I used to go and do pop-ups in different people’s restaurants, so it’s nice to be able to do it and say to people, ‘Do you want to come to my place and do it with me?

“We’re not set on a theme, it’s changing all the time. It’s something new. When you go to a restaurant you have the same menu, maybe for three months, whereas this will be different all the time. We’ll have different drink offerings, different menus, and it’ll just be a good atmosphere. The people that I work with are great and bring a real ray of sunshine to the room and I think that’s important too.

“I really wanted something that was not going to take away from the space – you can still see into the kitchen. I like being in an open space, I know not all chefs like that, but I think it’s important to keep your customers engaged and you can see everything going on, there’s no hiding in this kitchen.”

The building formerly operated as a cycle cafe and pizza parlour. Businessman Paul Abbey bought it two years ago, and invited Louisa on board on the strength of eating her heat-at-home deliveries during lockdown. “They were amazing. I like the refinement, the lean on Asian flavours, I just like her style of cooking,” he said

It’s an exciting time. We’re very aware that nothing has ever worked here. I think we have a fighting chance with what we have done. It is a fantastic space and we decided we wanted to do something fun with it.

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