Born – Unknown
Early Life – Steve grew up in Droylsden, which is an area of East Manchester.
- Early Education – Steve studied first at West end secondary school before moving on to what is now Tameside college (http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/steve-pilling/2b/518/244/). Whilst at college he met and befriended Simon Stanley, who went on to become his business partner later on in life.
- Initial experience – After finishing college, Steve studied under Gilbert Lefèvre, training as a chef at the world renowned Midland Hotel before moving on to work at Gleneagles, and spending some time in working in London. (http://cheshire.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/sams-chop-house-and-damson-in-heaton-moor-owner-to-open-deansgate-restaurant-38635/)
- Personal Awards – Steve has been the recipient of several personal awards, as well as winning countless prizes and contests with his series of chop shops, pubs and restaurants. Amongst his personal achievements are receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Manchester Food and Drinks Awards 2006(http://menmedia.co.uk/macclesfieldexpress/entertainment/s/275427_manchester_food__drink_awards), as well as the manchester food hero award in 2010 (http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/life_and_style/s/1345374_hilton_hotels_david_gale_named_manchesters_chef_of_the_year) and being given the title of an honorary fellow of Stockport College.
Other Interests – Steve is a keen squash player and during his early years working he represented Lancashire for several years and regularly competed in and won tournaments. Unfortunately his promising career was curtailed by injury, leading to him having to undergo surgery and a lengthy recuperation period.
After completing his training and working stints, Steve began work as a Greengrocer, some days staring work at 1am. His business acumen and know how led to him at one point opening over 10 individual stores, before a change in the law allowed supermarkets to open on Sundays, eliminating a lot of the smaller chain business immediately.
Steve then turned his attention to the pub trade, and in 1996 was asked to take over Mr Thomas Chop House, and in partnership with Roger Ward, refurbished and transformed it and developed a menu of vintage british dishes which mirrored what one would find in a traditional era british chop shop.
This proved to be an almost instantaneous success, increasing turnover dramatically, and reciving a host of awards. Building upon this success, Steve and Roger then worked in partnership again to purchase Sam’s Chop House in 2000. The place had been closed down in 1996 after a long decline, and its advertised sale provided the perfect platform for Steve and Roger to revitalise another of manchesters iconic establishments. The purchase paid off, and before too long, Sams was performing better than ever.
Current work – After parting ways with the chophouses, due to an enforced recuperation period following on from surgery, Steve moved back into the restaurant business, opening Damson in Heaton Moor. His partner for this venture was none other than Renowned Chef Simon Stanley, whom he had known since his college years.
Damson once again proved to be an instant hit, coming in 2nd place in The Independants national restaurant awards within its first year of opening. In the same year, the restaurant also won the best newcomer category of the Manchester Food & Drink awards, and at the end of 2011, won the prestigious Cheshire Life restaurant of the Year. Steve and Simon also won high praise and recognition themselves for another joint venture – their joint stewardship of the Red Lion in Disley.
Most recently, Steve has planned to open Mr Pillings Roast Restaurant and Oyster Bar (http://www.thecourthouse.co.uk/) on the ground floor of The Courthouse, which will provide seating for up to 450 people as well as boasting locally sourced british food and one of the best wine cellars in Manchester, it is well on its way to providing Steve with the perfect return to the city centre.
Branching out – (http://www.mediacityuk.co.uk/press-releases/2012/11/15/Award-winning-restaurant-Damson-arrives-at-MediaCityUK-with-Salford-City-College) Steves latest venture is to represent another slight change of focus for the already well accomplished businessman. Having secured rights to open a branch of his illustrious Damson restaurant in the heart of MediaCityUK, Steve has enlisted Salford College in a bold new apprenticeship that represents a fantastic opportunity for those involved to gain valuable skills and experience in the catering industry. Again working with Simon Stanley, the new Damson restaurant will bring the same award winning food, staying true to the ideals of the original Damsons. By working closely with the college, it allows the vastly experienced staff to train and help develop the next generation of selected hospitality students, enabling them to gain valuable experience and qualifications.
Steve and Simon are no strangers to investing in the future of the industry, and not just for the benefit of their own restaurant. Apprentices who have previously trained under them have gone on to great things, pursuing careers at some of the best restaurants and the country, and this latest venture looks to be the most exciting and rewarding one yet for those who are chosen.
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