Cumbrian Top 50 Gastro Pub launches Spring tasting menu series

Top left: Nina Matsunaga, top right: Tiff Chang, Centre left: Ayesha Kalaji, Centre right: Emily Chung. Bottom Left: Pippa Lovell.

An all-female line-up of top chefs are set to host The Black Bull, Sedbergh, Cumbria’s, first ever Spring chef dinner series.

The chefs will be cooking three one-off small plate tasting menus alongside The Black Bull chef-owner Nina Matsunaga.

Head chef Matsunaga, who co-owns the Black Bull with James Ratcliffe, was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, to Japanese parents. That has resulted in a blend of two vastly different food cultures that play out in the food she creates in the kitchen.

The guest chefs will create a menu to sit alongside complimentary dishes created by Matsunaga, resulting in three totally different small plate tasting menus.

Each chef will highlight dishes influenced by their respective food cultures. Guests can expect influences coming from Japan, Germany, Isle of Man, The Middle East, Taiwan, and Burma.

Picture of Lamb tartare canape
Lamb tartare canape

The Chef Line-up:

  • Pippa Lovell, chef-owner of Versa, Port Erin, Isle of Man. – (April 15).
  • Ayesha Kalaji, chef-owner of the Queen of Cups, Glastonbury. (May 6)
  • Tiffany Chang, street food and private dining tour de force and Emily Chung, one half of the hugely acclaimed East London based Burmese supper club The Rangoon Sisters. (May 27)

The season will start on April 15 with Matsunaga cooking alongside Pippa Lovell, the multi-award-winning chef-owner of Versa, a concept restaurant in Port Erin.

The duo will serve up a tasting menu inspired by the foods and cooking processes of Japan, Germany, and Scandinavia.

Lovell focuses on sustainability with roots in foraging and alternative ingredients. Her cooking focuses on using little or no energy, invasive weeds and creating zero waste.

May 6 will see Matsunaga collaborate with Ayesha Kalaji, chef-owner of the Queen of Cups, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in Glastonbury. The tasting menu is inspired by the flavours of Japan and The Middle East.

Kalaji studied at Leith’s before training as a butcher at Parsons Nose, London. Raised in Wales, her cuisine is influenced by her Jordanian grandma, after she spent many a childhood summer in Jordan, surrounded by Middle Eastern cuisine.

On May 27, Matsunaga will be joined by Tiffany Chang owner of @tiffcooksalot, a successful Taiwanese supper club.

Chang started her Taiwanese bento box business and supper club in 2015. Born in Taiwan, she moved to California aged 12, and then in 2005, she moved to London.

Her dishes reflect her Taiwanese heritage, and skillfully combine influences gleaned from the food cultures found in the USA and Europe. She competed in Netflix & Channel 4’s cookery show, Crazy Delicious.

Emily Chang is one half of the acclaimed East London-based Burmese supper club, The Rangoon Sisters. The tasting menu will highlight cuisines of Asia – Japan, Taiwan, and Burma.

Both sisters are doctors but by night they like to share their passion for the Burmese home cooked dishes they grew up with. Food critic Grace Dent said in 2017 that their Mohinga fish noodle soup was “the nicest thing I have put in my mouth.”

The Rangoon Sisters have appeared on stage at Meatopia, and on ITV’s James Martin’s Saturday Morning.

Each small plates tasting menu will cost £49.50 per person. Places are limited to 40 guests.

Matched drink pairings will also be available each night. Dinner starts at 7pm.

To book a place call 015396 20264 or email:

Lamb bon bon, oyster with ponzu, maple pea hummus, courgette flower, beef and shiso.
Lamb bon bon, oyster with ponzu, maple pea hummus, courgette flower, beef and shiso.


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