Liverpool agency puts top chef Gary Usher in national TV spotlight

Liverpool-based Natural Selection Design filmed and directed the Channel 4 documentary The Rebel Chef which tells the story of Gary’s project to open a bistro in Prescot. Tony McDonough reports

Gary Usher
Chef and Natural Selection Design Gary Usher outside Pinion in Prescot. Image by Natural Selection Design


Top chef Gary Usher’s mission to open the first new restaurant in Prescot for 30 years will be the subject of a Channel 4 documentary in September.

The Rebel Chef, a hour-long special airing at 10pm on Thursday, September 19, tells the story of Gary’s £50,000 crowdfunding drive to create Pinion, a French-style bistro on the former site of a BetFred bookmakers.

Although it has been produced by award-winning production company, Thoroughly Modern Media, the programme been entirely filmed and directed by Dan Burns and George Ellis from Liverpool creative agency Natural Selection Design.

Based out of the Vanilla Factory in the city centre, Natural Selection has been working with Gary Usher for more than eight years stretching back to 2011, when he founded his Elite Bistro Group and opened Sticky Walnut in Hoole.

‘Off the wall’

Gary has established a reputation for being outspoken and “off the wall’ in a profession not known for its shrinking violets. His success as a restaurateur speaks for itself and, in the past five years, he has smashed crowdfunding records and opened six bistros. They include the acclaimed Wreckfish in Liverpool city centre.

Described as “raw and beautiful” The Rebel Chef charts Gary’s entire journey to open Pinion in the centre of Prescot and help bring about a revival in the historic Knowsley town, the origins of which date back to the 14th century. In the late 16th century it had been home to the Prescot Playhouse, a purpose-built Shakespearean theatre.

Dan Burns said: “By far this is the coolest project we have been involved in. We helped document something really special here.  Everyone involved from the local characters to Gary’s team helped make the documentary what it is… a truthful and raw depiction of what is needed to launch a restaurant.

“This restaurant isn’t on the busy street of Oxford Street, London, but in a little humble -and slightly forgotten – town of Prescot in Merseyside. That was the challenge for the restaurant… would it work?”

Natural Selection
Gary Usher with Natural Selection’s Dan Burns and George Ellis. Image by Natural Selection


Crowdfunding specialist

Natural Selection Design is a small team of creatives offering; design, branding, videography and photography.  After working in their director’s home based studio on the Wirral for the past five years, the team grew and launched their new headquarters in Liverpool this summer at the Vanilla Factory.

They are a leading agency for crowdfunding projects – their success rate still stands at 100% raising in excess of £500,000 and the firm has worked with Gary Usher on the production of all five of Elite’s successful crowdfunding campaigns. 

Natural Selection has also worked for Michelin-starred chef Michael O’Hare, has been to Thailand with the Guardian, shot for Olive Magazine and produced video for large groups such as The Alchemist and worked on branding for over more than 50 businesses. 

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