Hairy Bikers star Si King is to launch his first restaurant in converted stables in Sunderland.

The TV chef will be opening a new eatery in the riverside Sheepfolds.venue which is currently being brought back to life by BDN, an architectural practice that recently renovated the Old Simpson Street School, as its own commercial development.

Si will be offering a menu of comforting, hearty dishes and will also use his space to stage exciting food pop-ups from independent producers. He said he could not resist the opportunity to be part of the building’s exciting transformation.

“Sunderland is a transforming city, and one with great provenance when it comes to local produce. It’s a city by the sea, with access to fresh fish and seafood, plenty of allotments for homegrown fruit and veg, and a spirit of innovation that really appeals to me as a creative person.

“When I met BDN I could see the opportunity to co-design a space that would allow me and my sons – both of whom work in hospitality - to bring some of the unique flavours I have sampled from around the world during my time as a Hairy Biker to the people of Sunderland. That’s what I’m most excited about – offering exceptional, unfussy food to Sunderland.”

His Hairy Bikers co-star Dave Myers is currently battling cancer and has praised the help of his long-time friend. Dave told the BBC: “He has been amazing; we are like brothers.

“The very first week before all the treatment started you have a week of going round hospitals and bits and pieces, it’s enormous pressure on Lil my partner, but Si was the one who drove us around for a week, hospital to hospital, London in and out, in and out."

The new Sheepfolds development - which will be created thanks to the restoration of a Grade II former stables, outbuildings and some contemporary new additions to create a unique open air leisure hub - is set to open its doors in summer 2023, with a range of restaurants, eateries, and pubs and bars, as well as a large stage area that will play host to live music and performance. The venue announced the owners of Route – a Michelin Guide restaurant in Newcastle – as its first occupiers with their new venture Zinc.

In Cumbria:

Si added: “The menu will be the kind of dishes you’d want to enjoy with a nice beer in your hand. Flavoursome, rich Hairy Bikers style food that will be brilliant for people to have before the match as well as with the family.”

Si’s venture in the Sheepfolds development will be his first permanent venue and he is proud it will be in Sunderland.

“I think Sunderland is crying out for venues like the stables, that mean people do not need to venture outside of the city to enjoy good quality food in a stunning setting. The fact that the team behind it are Sunderland based, and want the absolute best for the city, is what makes this such a special development and one I am thrilled to be joining. What will be absolutely vital is that people vote with their feet, and patronise the brilliant places being developed for them.”

Planning permission was granted for the building’s transformation in May, paving the way for the stables and surrounding courtyards to be transformed into a vibrant new destination, for food, drinks, events and entertainment. The venue will have eight individual operators within the site as well as large outdoor spaces.

In Cumbria: Dave Myers and Si King in Darlington last ChristmasDave Myers and Si King in Darlington last Christmas (Image: Press release)

Rick Marsden, managing director of BDN, said: “We’re pleased to be welcoming Si to our venue. We want to bring something really special to the city – a fantastic range of places to eat, drink and enjoy – so Si’s relaxed style of food will be a great addition to the other businesses we’re speaking to. Each will offer something different, so there will be a place to suit all tastes when we open next summer.”

The development has been supported by Sunderland City Council, whose team have worked closely with BDN to attract the right businesses to take space in the building.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a brilliant coup for the city, to attract a chef with such a pedigree to this fantastic new development at Sheepfolds. The excitement is certainly building for this new venue, another brilliant addition to our transforming city.”