English, Gastronomie

Eddie Shepherd’s Underground Plant-Based Fine Dining

von Ioana Negulescu

Foto: Eddie Shepherd

While researching recipes for my own dinner, I stumbled upon Eddie Shepherd and was instantly captivated by his intricate techniques, palpable curiosity, and delicate plating style. There’s much more to Eddie than meets the eye – a testament to the fact that his tables at The Walled Gardens are booked months in advance.
We’ve all heard of these experimental mixologist who use a rotary evaporator or a centrifuge to extract flavours otherwise impossible to capture. Eddie masters these techniques in cooking and eagerly shares them with the curious world on his YouTube channel. He forged his knives himself, used to keep bees in his garden, takes all his own photos,produces his video content and has a degree in philosophy on top of that. Did I mention that he cooks and serves his guests by himself? Dear reader, I’ve barely scratched the surface. A prodigy? Most likely.
Eddie opened his underground restaurant nearly nine years ago in his Manchester home. For four nights a week and three weeks a month, eight guests enjoy a plant-based tasting menu focused on local or wild ingredients. Some dishes feature dandelion or hawthorn pastilles, a blue algae miso he spent over a year developing, liquid nitrogen nettle soup, and truffles with distilled scotch bonnet chillies.

Tofu, Sour Cucumber & Garden Herbs. Photo: Eddie Shepherd

It’s one thing to plate dishes beautifully and use fruit glass, tuiles, herb oils, and homemade miso, but another to create dishes with a taste-first approach. During our interview, Eddie stressed how important it is to him to invent dishes that are delicious, creatively interesting, but also make sense within the flow of his twelve to fourteen courses. „Cooking for people is about hospitality. It’s about making them feel comfortable. But I still want to find room to be creative within that, without it being challenging towards what people expect.“ he adds.
His tables are now booked within minutes, allowing him to focus on the design of his menu and everything that surrounds it. This is why The Walled Gardens operates for only three weeks each month – one week is dedicated to prepping, testing, photographing, filming, and doing all the administrative work necessary to run a restaurant solo.
The dining experience at The Walled Gardens is intimate and personal. Eddie takes the time to chat with his guests, answer their questions, and share his extensive knowledge of ingredients, techniques, and flavours.

Photos: Eddie Shepherd

While he misses the energy of the busy kitchens where his career began, he enjoys the freedom of working alone. This independence allows him to perfect his techniques, such as vacuum distillation, which he taught himself through rigorous research and practice. His videos on these advanced techniques fill a gap in culinary education, encouraging others to experiment with new methods.
Eddie draws inspiration from chefs who prioritise natural ingredients and sustainable practices. To him, food is just one facet of a restaurant business; another is fostering a positive and supportive environment for staff. An example of good practices he mentioned during our chat is Sam Buckley’s Manchester hyperlocal restaurant, Where The Light Gets In, where the team does yoga and gardens together.
„When you think of a Michelin star restaurant, customers there would expect the produce to be of a certain standard, so why would you not expect the same about how the staff are treated?“ he tells me.

Scotch bonnet chocolate truffles. Photo: Eddie Shepherd

For aspiring chefs, Eddie believes that understanding a range of skills – from photography to advanced cooking techniques – enriches one’s culinary repertoire and fosters a more holistic view of the craft. This curiosity and willingness to learn across disciplines have been crucial to his success and personal growth.