Musician opens French bistro in Widnes

Gary McDonnell and his wife, Annie

Gary McDonnell and his wife, Annie

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Runcorn and Widnes World: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A FORMER musician with The La’s and Echo and The Bunnymen has opened a bistro in Widnes with his French wife.

Chef Gary McDonnell, and his wife, Annie, are now hoping to bring a bit of rock and roll to their new venture.

The Olive Tree bistro is inside a new £6 million Halton Housing Trust retirement home in Liverpool Road, opened last month by TV celebrity Fiona Philips.

Gary, aged 50, who played percussion on Mansun’s 1997 number one album Attack Of The Grey Lantern, said: “All our food is sourced from local suppliers and farmers and we make all the food ourselves.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from customers so far. There isn’t anything like this in Widnes so we’d encourage people to come along and give it a try.”

Starters include pheasant terrine, handmade from scratch.

A love of classical music brought Gary and Annie together three years ago at a Cheshire hotel, where he was head chef and she was general manager.

Annie, aged 36, trained at one of the world’s leading hotel schools, Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, and has worked at top hotels in Madrid, Portugal and French Polynesia including the Lanesborough hotel in London.

Asked why he switched from music to food, Gary said: “When I was on tour, the only place that I could have a private moment was with the catering team. I just started hanging around with them and learning how to cook over the years.

“This led to me doing the tour catering for bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and Dionne Warwick. I’m still a musician but also love cooking.”

Gary has owned an outside catering business, Empty Plates, for 12 years, catering for large events such as weddings and parties.

The Olive Tree is open for breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday and for lunch on Sundays.

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