The wife of a Premier League football captain has enraged Manchester restaurant owners after claiming there was “horrible food everywhere” in the city. Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan’s wife Sara Arfaoui landed herself in hot water after the brutal comments on her Instagram, and even attracted the ire of a world-famous food critic. The Italian model had married the footie ace earlier this year, flying out to Italy with him days before the club claimed another Premier League title. Her remarks may not have gone down a treat with her partner’s boss, Man City manager Pep Guardiola, who himself owns a restaurant in the city centre.
After apparently being dissatisfied with the city’s culinary offerings, Ms Arfaoui took to social media to share her thoughts, claiming venues suffered from a lack of fresh food and were focused purely on money-making.
After being asked her for favourite Manchester restaurant, Ms Arfaoui confessed: “Sorry, I’m sad to be honest but nothing. I tried so bad to find a good restaurant but horrible food everywhere. Can’t find a real Italian or good sushi or just fresh food . . . everywhere frozen.
“Restaurants here are focused on making money with drinks and shots like night clubs – not quality food. Maybe in London but in Manchester, nothing. I’m sorry.”
She was met with outrage from restaurant owners in the city, and even attracted the ire of renowned food critic Jay Rayner, who described it as a “ludicrous point of view.”
He added that Manchester was “an absolute gem of a place to eat” and “packed full of brilliant, independent restaurants”.
The food critic and restaurant owners raised the issue of belittling restaurants at a time when soaring energy bills and inflation are causing the industry to struggle.
Manchester restaurant owner Gary Usher did not hold back in his assessment of Ms Arfaoui’s opinion, saying he was “genuinely delighted” footballers and their partners didn’t visit because he’d “be questioning our offer if they did”.
He added: “Good taste & class is hardly synonymous with footballers wives & their leopard print themed cinema rooms.”
Meanwhile Liverpool chef Sam Grainger, chef patron at the critically acclaimed Belzan in Liverpool and Mexican taqueria Madre, and who is due to open a restaurant in Manchester this year, told the Manchester Evening News: “I would really like to know where she’s actually been in Manchester, as she clearly hasn’t researched and looked where to go.
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“It’s really damaging to hospitality at the moment, everything is on a knife edge and we could lose everything, so these comments could really destroy us – it’s just really wrong. I honestly think Manchester’s food scene is unbelievable and it’s just going to get better and better.”
The city’s restaurants include Wood Manchester, owned by MasterChef winner Simon Wood, as well as The French, run by Great British Menu champion Adam Reid. Meanwhile the Bombay Cuisine in Prestwich has just nabbed National Take-away of The Year.
But Ms Arfaoui is not the first footballer’s wife to take aim at Manchester. Jorgelina Cardoso, wife of ex-United star Angel Di Maria, was even more brutal in 2020, saying: “It was horrible — a s***hole.”
Ms Cardoso had spent that year living in England, and pulled no punches in her assessment, saying: “It was always horrible! We came home and I said: ‘If you’re ever transferred, make sure it’s anywhere in the world but England.”
Pressed on why she hated the city so much, Jorgelina reeled off a list, including the aforementioned food: “I didn’t like it at all… I can tell you. People are all weird. You walk around and you don’t know if they’re going to kill you. The food is disgusting. The women look like porcelain. Angel and I were in Madrid, at the best team in the world, perfect food, perfect weather, everything was perfect. And then came United’s proposal…”