Nearly £30,000 has been raised in only three weeks for the creation of a new fine dining restaurant - spearheaded by MasterChef contestant Mike Bartley. 

Mike, 37, appeared on the hit cooking reality show, MasterChef in 2021. After spending time working as a private chef, he is confident he will be able to open a new restaurant in Bishop Auckland in 2024 as his Kickstarter fundraiser continues to gather steam.

Restaurant Jord (pronounced "you-rd") will serve up an array of locally grown and foraged meals.  In the evening, guests will experience a "refined tasting menu", whilst in the day, Jord will serve up an "elevated brunch", accompanied by "great" wines and cocktails. 

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Located on Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, the soon-to-be restaurant will combine two existing units A Tudor-style building and a former Clarks shoe shop will be knocked through to create one restaurant. 

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A side alley on the edge of the Jord property will become part of the restaurant, with a new walkway created to replace it on the other side of the building. 

Mike said: "I am looking forward to bringing my passion for locally sourced and foraged produce to the area and can't wait to see you there. 

Read more: Restaurant Jord in Bishop Auckland set to open in 2024

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"As we’re heading closer to our goal, this is a reminder that the price of the tasting menu on Kickstarter is the cheapest you will find it. Only those who pledge will have access to this price!"

Mike said he was left surprised and overjoyed by the support he received under his crowdfunding effort, which sits at £28,707 at the time of writing.

He said the funding, which has a target of £35,000, will go towards maximising the potential of the restaurant - going towards fitting out the venue with suitable furniture, artwork, and various pieces of kitchen equipment.

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With less than £10k remaining of the target, Mike thanked all the donors for their "support so far". 

He said: "It is going well and we're pretty confident we're going to hit the goal.

"[The food is] going to be really affected by the seasons, whatever is growing in the local area, I'll be getting out and looking to see what's happening in the countryside, and then forming the menu based on that. 

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"In the Spring, you can expect to see things like wild garlic, and in the Autumn, you can expect to see things like wild mushrooms. It's really affected by the seasons and making sure that we're picking products at the absolute height of their quality.

"Tasty food doesn't have to be over-elaborate, it doesn't have to be opulent, it can just be really simple with a couple of ingredients done really well."