Brad Carter - Raver and Michelin Starred Chef. Teach Yourself.

Hello, welcome to the Lifetime differently podcast with me, Neil Witton and my co-host Ray
Join us on our journey to find out what separates the doers from the thinkers.
Hello there, this conversation is with the chef, raver and compulsive creative Brad Carter.
Brad's not a verse to learning from others, but his energy levels peak, his boat is well
and truly floated when he has a vision for something different.
From winning a pizza making competition at school, through his partying years, to a surprise
Mitch and in star, Brad seems to relish constraints, using them to make things his own.
This includes his restaurant cartas, the one star Dona Bar, psychedelic jam and much more.
Brad Carter, teach yourself.
Let's start with doing such an extraordinary place.
So Brad, tell us where we are.
Right now we're in the Ebusham, so it's a fruit and veg country of the UK.
So Ebusham is the most fertile soil in the whole of the country and the farm that we're
in is a supply of mine that I've worked in for 13 years with the restaurant and we've
actually relocated the restaurant to the farm.
So we're seeing in a greenhouse that's now a beautiful restaurant.
And you're not doing it justice to say it to call it a greenhouse because this thing,
as Ray and I were driving in we were looking at this and I was actually saying, I don't
think about how this is where food comes from because the scale of these things are just
ginormous, they're like these huge greenhouses and you've got just not quite miles but certainly
distance of soil and various different plants and you're telling us about the sandfire
that they're growing behind us.
But one of these units, what sort of sizes is this?
It's pretty, I mean it's got some space to it, isn't it?
I think we could safely describe it as massive.
Yeah, massive, massive, massive, the easy way.
Absolutely massive.
I'd say, I don't know, what is this?
Would we say it's about 6,000 square foot?
Yes, I know.
So what you've done is you've, as a collaboration with these guys, you've taken one of their,
one of their greenhouses and converted it into, I mean it's beyond the restaurant, it's
just this incredible space where you serve food but you've also got all the produce that
you, that you work on and that gets created here.
Yeah, so the third of it is, is plants that we grow on site but we've put them into
the greenhouse for harvestable moments during the meal.
Customers can walk around looking through the plants during the meal in between courses.
So we wanted to, for me, working with them and every time I'd come here for the growing
shed, jawline planning, what I was going to use, I was always so inspired every time I left,
I was like, I just feel like full of life and energy every time I go there and I was
like, imagine if all the customers could feel like this, that's how the seeds started, I was
like, excuse me, what takes it from that concept to it being real?
It, a lot, I'm a dreamer and I always think, I'm going to do it, I'm just going to do this,
it's going to be amazing and then I need people to point me down the road of logistics
and whatever it can actually be done because, presumably it was a conversation with your
man who runs this place.
Yeah, like I said, I was like, I get so inspired and I said to well, imagine if we built a restaurant
here and people were like coming to the source to us around it and it was like, it'd be amazing.
To be honest, the first couple of times he was a bit like, oh yeah, it'd be amazing but
he weren't thinking I was being serious about it because obviously I'm a city boy who knows
that and move out here and logistics and then we started to get a bit real and then
after Christmas I called him in January and I said, well, we've got to do this, this is the
year like we're in between what we're doing, we're going to come for the summer, we're
going to do it and he was like, okay mate, he's saying serious, why don't you pop down and
we'll have a look and this space that we're in was a guy says it was disused, so they had
a few plants in their like cucumbers but he wasn't really being used, it was a bit of a
dead space for them and he was like, what do you think and I was like, it's ideal, he said
because for them it's like they're working, it's called Wessland, it's a big operation, they
grow like I said a ton of pea shoots every week, every pea shoot you eat in the UK is growing
in here. And that's literally a ton of pea shoots.
Yeah, like imagine the way out of that and that's one product, you know, we're talking
like we're talking like 40, 50 lines core and then they grow heritage tomatoes down in
Broadway which is 10 minutes away so they've got a designated site for that which is the
most natural way is they've got bee bucksies to pollinate the vines, they grow about different
heritage varieties, unbelievable stuff, they just come into the end of the season and
we came in this site, we didn't want to interfere with the work in site at all really so the
William and his head was thinking well if we use this space we're not going into our car
park, we're not going into our services, we're now for site visits and then he started
to think well when he has his customers here so he has customer visit every week, you
know, say co-op or come in here to see all the product, talk about it, he was like well
you can cook for him, and then he started to see the value in having us on site as well
and he was like this is a great idea so then we all done the numbers, who's going to
pay for what and what's going to be done where and then we were like let's just do it so
I think we decided and decided that we were doing the in May and we put a month of July
to move here to get the summer because we had to wind down the restaurant in June anyway
and we were I think we shot in two weeks later we were open here so it was a push and it
was a few late nights, like he's always but we stood back and I just think for me now like
in my career and I'll look back at this and think there's a lot of people that just would
dream of doing this and they just wouldn't get it done but with the help of Westlands
and my amazing team like we've done and it's a little I'll be a jolt in there.
It sounds like that from what you were telling us the fact that you know you're massively
over subscribed the council are saying they're trying to figure out how you can have more
time from the council to actually open the site and then getting a star.
Yeah I mean it's a pretty incredible story.
I think like the star thing as well, I was quite you know like I said to you earlier people
were like you mad you're going to do this, you're going to do that and I was like no this
has gotten more of a meaning it's like for our brand to have this bolted onto us this is
what we do anyway we always use these guys but this really it really says this is who
we are and what we stand for we're showing it up you know there's a lot of restaurants
I don't know many but they are saying they've got this card and they're doing this and they're
doing that they're not using it you know I mean it's like for show.
You've got to use it it's there it's life it's energy it's there it's growing in front
of you and the taste then everything for that is you're never going to get that again like
the cut time here is so short to when you eat it people are coming here going it all I
never had anything that tastes like this and that's why.
I can vouch for that because just before we start recording you took us round and let us
troll these different leaves from different plants and I was like I cannot believe the
amount of flavour and how much it tastes like that thing.
I can't believe a leaf tastes like a roister.
I'm going to we'll end up coming back to here at some point in the conversation but let's
start with we normally ask the question when you meet someone new how do you how do you
when they ask you what you do how do you how do you answer I'm guessing today it's pretty
So do you do you sell my chef?
I do yeah I think like I definitely am a chef.
Do you see yourself as a chef?
I do see myself as a chef but the more life goes on more I'd see myself as a creative
So like yes I've stood on the on the block with the with the knives for 20 odd years and
I've like done it all but now my role is completely different to that now you know
like I can still cook like to that top level I am the chef with the with the restaurant but
I see myself like more more sort of as a creative.
And I guess that's why you could see this space and what it could be rather than
all the problems yeah the others would see.
But it's interesting just on that level because I think if you define yourself as a chef then
you think about how okay well what I do is I have ingredients and I cook stuff and then
people eat it and hopefully they have a nice meal and that's where it starts and stops
whereas and you could be limiting by thinking about yourself as that but you're not and
I think that's part of the way you're answering is like you don't you don't stop as a chef
you're looking for how can I create how can I craft an experience how can I how can I get
closer to that type of flavour and you're thinking much more about something else you know
does that make sense.
Yeah it's true I think because of the ethos that I've adopted for the restaurant as well
it's made us unique and it's made.
So what's the ethos?
To give us an identity I think that's our own so we only we don't use anything imported
from the menu apart from the wines and the reason is I've always had this passion for
like British food even when I was young chef and I was like I just used to watch like the
old UK TV food and the stuff that excite me was like I'm going mad Britain finding all
these little niche suppliers.
Do you even why was that?
I don't know.
I can't.
Was that a keith flavour?
I still get a lot of fluid, he was a bit easy legend but I don't, he was a bit before I'm
talking like late night he's only 2000s I suppose is when I was kind of watching TV as a chef
and I'm really took it very seriously back then but.
Do you think it's something about place?
So you're a way you've born, I mean you've got the Birmingham apps and born in Birmingham
Yeah so Birmingham is properly your home in your heart.
And then let's go right back to what was life like when you were young and tell us about
how it went towards cooking and towards the racing?
Yeah so I went to school but the systems never been familiar, I've never been able to work
in the systems.
I still have systems in place at work now but they're my own and like they help a creativity
rather than a system that I'm told to do in a certain way and I just struggled with it.
I'm obviously not, I'm obviously intelligent but I'm intelligent in a different way you
know, I'm not a mach genius, I'm not the best at spelling but I'm intelligent, different
way and school are just struggled with being able to express myself because there's nothing
for creative people at school.
Let me just jump in at that point and say so a lot of people would like that in the way
you just described but they would get caught in the system and then find themselves in a position
where the system is very much not serving them and they end up not being happy with whatever
their life goes and that didn't happen to you.
You see it a lot there, yeah?
Can you think of moments early on where now you're self-aware enough to be able to describe
it in the way you just did, you can see the system, you can see that I need to put my
own systems in place.
Where their moments along the way where you started to notice that, was it always intrinsic
that you just knew that the system for me, I got to go that way or were there people that
sort of showed up or something else that showed up?
No, I just think when I was at school for so long and I was adult enough so I went to a
boy school actually for secondary school so I was a man and a week too because he was tough
and he was a tough part of talent, he was like there was people in the school that were
like, couldn't get on in any other school as well so it was a tough, it was a hard school
and it was a felt like it was hard anyway whether you were clever or not or into the system
or not.
And I just feel like I was quite mature and I used to speak to the teachers about it and
say like, I can't do this, it's like I can't face a black woman, it's spinning like
hard and then they'd see me like painting on a wall with my friends like graffiti and
that would be stopped but that was a way of me expressing myself and I was trying to
find outlets for it, I loved music but you know there was certain things I were allowed to do
at school because I was a norther, I was just a learning a different way, I wanted to
be creative.
I think there wasn't actual moments that I can pick out but I just remember knowing it straight
away when I was like, 40, 30, first couple years of second year school, I just knew I was
going to live like a different way, like I wasn't going to be.
You weren't going to follow the path, the obvious path.
What about parents and people around you at that age?
My mum's always been the most encouraging and supportive of anything I wanted to do, anything.
She's been my biggest fan.
Whatever I wanted to do, whatever I wanted to do is long as I'm happy doing it.
She said, I remember her saying to me, one thing I remember her saying is find a job that
you love doing and you'll be amazing and it doesn't matter what it is.
I got into the music thing and started doing that.
She was like, it's going to be amazing, you're about to go here and everything.
She did not care about what people were telling me to do.
She was like, just do what?
So she definitely stood some of that to me.
She gave me the confidence to go off and do.
Any other family that gave you that all the research against that?
She's the inspiration.
I've got a sister that's a lot older and my sister was good to me when I was young.
She looked after me and stuff but it's 12 years ago.
She's got like four kids and she had her hands full.
But she was good to me and it was just, I've always been, I've been pretty much alone since
last 30.
It's like knowing that my mum said, whatever you are and you've got to earn yourself, I've
always had the same from a birthday of 20 kids since I was 10.
Whatever you want, you have to go and put work out and find it and it works.
She's done the right thing, you know what I mean?
So age 14, you've got that inspiration from your mum.
You know that you're going to have to figure it out and not just conform to the system but
find a different path.
Take responsibility.
Yeah, start taking responsibility.
What were the first indicators of you doing that?
What were the first things you started doing where it was like, okay, I can see that
I do something and something else happens.
It's hard to think that that was the last of the things that happened.
The last of what was happening there was that.
And it will happen as well.
Lots of stuff will happen by the way.
Somewhere between 14 and the rave scene.
There was an important moment for food that I didn't realise then but happened at school.
So when I was, my mum used to have free jobs because we ended up in this situation where we
had this house and my mum wanted to keep it for me when I didn't really care but she thought
I don't want to mess in my bag.
So you've got a base you've got somewhere that you can see at home?
Yeah, so we had this house and she basically had three jobs to keep it.
Now when we've talked about it, now I'm older, I'm like, what are you just getting rid of
I was a kid and she was like, well, at the time I thought, that's close to your school,
that's close to this.
And who knows, that may have been a good thing?
It may have.
It may have.
I would never question a decision anyway.
No, no.
Every decision she ever makes is like, I am here because of her.
I totally believe that.
And I remember just having to make her something, you know?
I couldn't cook but I'd like leave her something so I'd be in and out of the house.
Oh, I see.
So she'd come home and she'd come home and help her out.
And there'd be something there for her.
And it was, you know, basic shit on toast.
But I remember like being thinking, oh, I'm not jazzy up to that.
Do you know what I mean?
And I remember the thought of it and I remember it as clear as dialing in a cupboard and
going, I've been nothing in there, limited still a bit of curry powder.
Yeah, okay.
And like, oh yeah, put that in there.
Did she have a comment on that?
Yeah, yeah, she did.
So she noticed, like, you change that.
She's saying something, isn't it?
But then it'd be like, a couple, like, two days later.
And then I'd be like, because she was great as well.
She knew I liked to go out and have a good time.
She was like, never stop me.
Long as I was done what I was meant to be doing on time or right, nothing else mattered.
I shared everything with her, what I was doing, showed her, you know, I grew up in the
night, so it was the rake of the exploded.
And like, that was, I found myself there, you know, like, that's where.
I still love it, that'll get, when we talk about it, I'll get goosebumps, I might even cry.
But it's like, it's part of my personality, it's what made me who I am.
Yeah, it gave me the social ability to meet people and to it.
I believe it was the making of me.
Do you think also that, like, you sort of found a system that you belonged in?
And then you'll be slightly, I was hiding school as well.
And then I was going, I went to this big party, really famous one called Fantasia when I was
like 13, nearly 40.
Well, how that, there couldn't have been that many people around that were that sort of age
could do.
This is how I've sought people who was like, how old are you?
And I'm like, tell them.
And then I'm like, oh, I thought you were younger than that or you were the miss that and
all like, no, no, because I went so early.
So I got, well, I went with older, yeah, yeah, younger, younger and older and stuff that
were going, yeah, they were like, it's amazing.
You've got to come in.
And then friend of mine, I went to school with.
His brother was like a really well-known MC, like Happy Art Course.
So I used to jump in the car, I was like, my idol.
So I was like, in the back, like, going with him.
And I was just like, this is, and I had this focus connection.
And you know, I loved that he was so creative.
Like, even back then, I remember looking at everyone's clothes and like, looking at their
creative visuals in the spaces and everything like that.
I was just like, it's tickling every box of me in this music.
Like, the music that you still play it now, like, last night I loved trying to do it.
And then I was just trying to do it.
And I was like, I don't know.
I was just trying to do it.
And I was just trying to do it.
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And I was just trying to do it.
And I was sort of thinking that early,
you were talking about coming here.
And sometimes it's the constraints
that sort of propel you into something quite new and innovative.
Whereas if you've got everything,
if you've got all the money,
the biggest budget in the world,
it just, "Oh, where do I, where do I, where do I,
I've got so many options, whereas you come here,
and it's like, okay, we've got this space.
What can we do with that?
You know.
- Yeah, I think like, being like you say,
we've having our idea, and like something like this,
you've got to be, you've got to have a vision,
you've got to be creative, but you also like you say,
if you feel like the resources are limited,
you have to find a different way,
you have to find something else, and I feel like
that did happen here a little bit to be honest with you.
But then ultimately, it makes you more creative.
It's like, well, it's just touching on the restaurant.
I write back to school like I never thought
it was gonna be a chef, like, it was never gonna,
it was never in my head, but it's a creative job,
and it's a life skill, don't get me wrong,
like now I can cook anywhere in the world,
for anyone, make a map, that's like, it's a life skill.
- You were making your mum happy, I guess?
- Exactly.
- For a couple of reasons, one is you were doing something,
and I can imagine her coming back from one of her three jobs,
and food on the table.
- Oh man, there's amazing food on the table.
- Exactly, but you thought about it,
and she loves you so much,
and she's seeing that you're putting that extra bit into it,
I can understand how that must have given you a dip,
a buzz, you know, that's--
- And it's a way of showing your love, isn't it?
- Yeah, yeah.
At the time, obviously I didn't think of this,
I'm gonna be a career, you know?
You know, like you say, I have kids come into the restaurant
and they're family and they're like obsessed with watching chefs
until I'm gonna be a chef in the night for 13, 14.
And they might well be, but they might well change them.
I might as well, you grow up and grow out of it.
I just knew, like, that's a nice thing for me to be doing,
and also a nice thing for me to actually, organically,
you wanted to, and then like, it came to options,
'cause in them days you chose options,
that's what you were gonna do,
and obviously I was in this boys' school,
and it was quite a test last round of fuel,
and everyone was like, one in a fight,
you were gonna be dead.
And then I was like, I'm gonna do food technology.
- What made you go for that?
- Just 'cause I enjoyed cooking for your mum.
- But was it simple as that?
And it was like, what was the poor ass?
- There's nothing else, and I know I like doing that.
- I know.
- They absolutely really killed me.
- I bet. - I made all the lads,
like, as does four of us in the class.
- Yeah.
- And I get just just a detail, but was it hard for you
to stand up against that?
'Cause again, a lot of people,
eat face with that,
- It was, but they would've been like, sure.
If I'm doing it, I'm doing it, I don't care.
I'll take the shit and I'll give it back.
- And that's born into you again?
- I'm a member.
But in that, for that one,
they're giving you a load of aggro about doing it.
- Yeah. - And you're going yet,
and you just loving it.
Yeah, I'm doing food tech.
And I'm in there, and I literally,
the food teacher came to the car,
it was just before we closed, she came to eat.
She's the only teacher that I ever really
got on with me. - And this is the first one, was it?
And yet, for two, the last two years,
I cooked at school, and everything I did was good.
And there was a pizza competition, and I won it.
- Well, you took a good going, what were the ingredients?
Give us a little bit more to the pizza,
why did you win it?
- I just got curry powder.
- I went, I went classical Aunt Margarita.
- I know, okay.
So I kept it nice and simple.
- I kept it nice and simple in the tomatoes.
- Yeah.
- This is what I do now.
Good tomatoes.
That's the beauty of a pizza,
it's really good ingredients.
Good tomatoes.
I got better ones in the teens,
and not like, you standard, no frills.
- Yeah.
- And then, you know, you just put a little bit of salt
and pepper, and then, you know,
you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you know,
you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you know,
you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
and then, you just put a little bit of salt and pepper,
And you're still cooking at that point?
I used to do like weekend stuff.
There's a place in Birmingham called Star City and it works, at this chain thing for
a chef that I knew.
He'd gone to move, and I was just doing Friday night, Saturday night, until 11, and then
stray under road to Melbourne Kings in the cars with their boys going to the raps and
the girls.
I'm guessing, Brad, at that point, no one would have bet on you for this to be where you
are now.
Did you have any hint of it at that point?
Not necessarily that it would be this, but it would be something.
No, the way it evolved from there was, I was obviously going to the, he suited my lifestyle,
I was going to the pies, I was enjoying flying for people getting paid to do that, and
hitting all that, I knew everything about everything, I knew every set, I knew every time,
I knew everything, totally immersed in the world.
What kind of age are you at now?
18, 19, 16.
So I left school right before the end, like 15-ish.
And then, 15, 16 set, 15 to 18, mid 15 to 18, this is life.
Well, you know, the art, you still got to know, I know them really well, you know, the pies
used to draw the art flyers, he's got pubs in London now, so we've got similar, or
he used to do loads and stuff for everyone, I'd do anything, I was like, yeah, yeah, I'll
do that because it's like part of the art or the illustration, or the flyers we used to
collect in them, because it's like the punk of the night, he was like anything goes.
They're not connected just to the flyers you've got in the toilet, that's a friend of mine,
I saw that same sort of, he's got, create a business where he's like, they're all like
four Neons, they're called faux flyers, they're all fake flyers, but again, it's from that
So I tried to bring that personality into the restaurant, which is possible because obviously
it's quite a, we'll get on to it, but it's quite a clean sort of way of thinking at this
level in a restaurant, but I've tried to make it my own.
And then I was at eight, I was working, I actually went to work at a pub actually called the
Billsley Pob, it's right by my house and school, just washing up, that's how it started in the
And I was, I was washing the dishes and then all of a sudden I started doing the desserts
because it was just my quave and a sponge while I was washing up because chef never turned
up and squirted cream, you know what I mean?
And I was like doing that, it's fine.
And then one time I worked with these three labs and I really thought they were like really
good chefs at the time, obviously, now I realize they weren't.
If they listened to this, sorry, but you were shit.
One of the names, name and shame.
Rich, John and then my friend Andy, but he definitely knows his shit.
And they're all like from the area and basically someone never turned up and they were like come
on, you'll be able to do this.
So they basically got someone, they had another kitchen port and then they put me just on
the grill, so like it's stuff like Rump Steak, Fraud and a Grill, Cook it to the desired temp,
un-applai with chips, mash or sweet potato wedges or whatever and then peas.
And I did, went on to this Saturday service on the grill and just absolutely nailed it.
Just doing what they called out, chicken, butterfly cake and chicken breast in the contact
grill steaks and I did it and I nailed it and they were like you were amazing like you should
do half cooking, half kitchen port, so I was like yeah fine.
So then it just kept coming to find me, you know, like the food and the cooking, it was just
I was just good, did it?
I've always been high up to aim.
I'm very fast paced and the kitchen suit, you may like the reason I liked the kitchen
environment was it's an open space and it feels great.
I was going to, I was going to like mention that, but the symmetry between the rafesie.
I mean it's not obvious right, but the symmetry between the rafesie and the kitchen.
When you go into that kitchen that you were just describing, I'd imagine it has a tempo
to it and it has an energy to it and I'm wondering whether or not you brought or you
bring a different energy and a different tempo to it and it's something about like the
frequency of the two things.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, 100%.
It's the same for me, it's the same tempo, like it's, if you can't beat in your area, it's
the same for me.
And if it ain't feeling like I get it like that.
And then that's when it starts to flow and it's starting to work for you.
Yeah, that's really interesting.
And being in the kitchen, even at that level, we're cooking like really basic stuff in
a big steak pub, they were big steak pubs, but then that's what they were called.
And yeah, that was when I was like doing cooking and going into part of the business.
And do you think there was a sort of part of that where them saying, you're really quite
good at this, that was, that's quite a nice thing to be on the receiving end of, right?
Whether it's your mum or somebody that's running a pub.
Yeah, it was and I think that's when, although I was jokingly saying those guys weren't that
good, Richard, I will say, was the one who said to me, why don't you go to college and
get a qualification?
I did, I saw something and I said no, because you saw that as a system again.
Lot of school.
Yeah, I was like, no, I don't do that.
No, I'm not going there.
I'm not doing this.
Anyway, convince me.
How did he convince you?
He was like, if you've got a qualification, like you can get in it any kitchen you want.
So it was logic.
There wasn't much more to it than logic.
You were just seeing it as I was, yeah, he's probably right, it's basically a passport.
I was like, oh man, so nothing, three hours.
There was a college of food in Bongo, which is absolutely amazing facilities.
They've got rosettes in the restaurant and those students are there.
Do you know what I mean?
I'm really well connected with them now, because of what's happened the way you do that.
So it wasn't like school?
It was all practical.
Yeah, get stuck in.
Was it as much as, so Richard needed to get you into, through the front door and then
once you were through the front door, you were through the right door and then you saw it?
And I think he kind of wanted me to be fair, I've done really thought about this before,
and I've talked about this, this is like the first time and I've just realised he's quite,
that's quite an amazing thing, let me do that.
Yeah, he's a fork in the road.
Yeah, we've had him actually pushing me to do that and go to college.
I wasn't the star of the show at college, I blended in the background, I got it done.
He wasn't, I wasn't like the student of the year, like my head, he was the student of
the year.
And then I give him his first job in the kitchen of 15 and then we were still with him
and he's 32.
You know what I mean?
But he was the student of the year, I wasn't, I've blended in the background, got it done,
got the work done.
And was it a couple of years?
Two years, yeah.
Did you see yourself through college, differentiated in any way?
So from what you're telling us and what I know of your story, you were certainly different
in some respects because of where you'd come from and also the fact that you've got this
other life in the rave scene.
And I was two, probably two years older than most of the students because they're straight
out of school and a lot of them, they're like, just going to cook, you need to like, at
least you'll get something, it was not, it weren't respected.
Yeah, I mean, you weren't like, like in France, you're a surgeon or you're a chef and they're
the two tough, tough jobs.
Yeah, got it in that.
So in your head, when you said about, I just got it done, you were sort of playing
that down a bit, but I'm interpreting that differently, it's like, no, I'm here for a reason.
I'm going to get that passport.
And then I've got something in me and then I go, yeah.
So you were approaching that?
And even then, like, I finished college and I was going to go to London, actually, just because
I thought that was the only place you could cook American in my life.
Birmingham is always seen as a stepping stone.
We're talking like, you know, 99 here.
This is like, there's no restaurants in Birmingham.
So, it's like, if you were going to be a chef and do something nice, you had to move to
London, that's the way it was.
But that's what I was going to do.
And then my butcher, Richard Brockler's, but actually, a lot to say, I'm amazing of a person
he is.
He's been to it.
He's retired now, but he's what a guy.
And he came up to me.
I got him really well with him because I was a bit older and he really liked me and the
way I was.
And I think he liked a bit of a world side.
Yeah, he liked it.
And he was, he from the butcher area, college, like the fish in the meat prep.
And I always really loved doing that.
And I still do.
And I'll tell you more about that.
And he was like, it's what you're going to do.
And I'm going to look at him.
I've got an opportunity for you.
I think this is perfect for you.
He was like, a friend of mine's got a restaurant in Manurka, the small island.
He went, "Here I be, for a time, I'll be more."
And you had you been to IB for a while?
Because again, just a bit of an aside, we were chatting about IB for a few days last week
before we started recording.
So obviously, that's like, I've been abroad with my junior school once, you know, we didn't
really go, my mum, when it was mum and dad, it taught me away a couple of times, but I'd
never really travelled anywhere, just bits and bubs.
And I was like, so go and leave it.
This restaurant was owned by a couple from Sullyall, so they're British.
You work in Spain for like a year, get pop in the house, leave their cook there, or something.
Yes, it's a hundred percent.
Why would no do it?
It's a hundred percent.
I've heard a hundred percent, yes.
Yeah, another guest that we've had in the past, like Derek Sivers, he's quite well known
for this phrase that he's got, which is, it's a hell yeah or no.
And that's your hell yeah, right?
There's no, no in that.
A hundred percent.
And then they were like, you need to find a friend to go with, or only add one mate
of college.
And then they found a friend?
Because they, because I was, they sourced as young, Joe was a bit younger than me my friend.
I was, like, said, I was a bit older than the other guys, because I've had this two years
of floating about it.
And they were like, you need to take a mate because you're going to be with them all the time
and work together.
And there were two, two chefs.
Right, okay.
And I was like, well, the only, no only mate at college is Joe.
No, like, there's no way he's going because he's book snop today.
He's, he's, he's bumming about it.
And I was like, what about if I help him and get him up today?
No, no, yeah.
Why did you choose Joe?
Because he was, he was the only guy.
He was my best mate at college.
He was from Warsaw.
He used to come back to the club with us.
And, yeah, he's a special boy.
And I got, I said, sat with him.
I said, you can come with me to Spain.
He's like, what?
And I was like, but you need, we need to get your book sorted.
So we spent, so when you say you get your book sorted, what does that mean?
So, NVQ.
Yeah, okay.
Was the qualification and he hadn't filled any of it in.
Yeah, he didn't turn you up.
Yeah, he didn't turn you up.
Not filling in.
Is it, is he only good at doing the time?
He was, he was good.
I don't know, whoever, like, I just felt like I'd far, I was, he'd be older than him.
And he's like, my really good mate for going out.
And he's from Warsaw, Papa Warsaw, Accent.
I just really wanted to go with him.
I mean, it makes sense from their point of view to our two of you as well.
Because if you go over by yourself,
you could quite easily get lonely, right?
And you're not going to hang about.
Exactly, exactly.
I don't know whether, if I said, do you think you were good Joe at college?
What did you say?
I think he'd say no.
What's he doing now?
I was just about to say.
Oh, yeah.
I'm going to, I'm going to guess it.
He's a chef.
He's, he's got a restaurant in New Zealand.
And he's still got the Warsaw Accent.
So he, after this, we did, we did this, this whole stint,
the restaurant in Spain.
And what kind of restaurant was it?
Was it high end?
Yeah, it was actually, it was, it was considered the best on the island at the time,
back then when we went 99, 2000.
And the couple had had it for 13 years, beautiful couple.
A lot, I love both from Simon and Sarah.
And their kids were quite young.
And they had it for 13 years, and the mum and dad had a place over there.
And it was in a little, like, like an old house with a lemon tree garden.
So like, like, big lemon trees.
And they had to rush some tables outside, so I mean, it was very like,
they were trying to quite French, it was quite traditional, like fancy.
We had loads of like famous people come to stay there and,
they holidayed for like a month, like football or jump-bars and met him.
And a Michael Paling, these kind of people they lived there for a month,
they come to us every night.
So we were packed every night.
And we obviously did this whole first time I'd left home with a me and Joan.
We never, we never had a crossword, lived together like, like, it was 17, I was 18, 19,
while I was there.
And we lived in this house, at the absolute wild of a time, like, best work time,
six days a week, work, every night, you know, falling asleep on the toilet in the morning,
when perhaps getting done.
It sounds a bit like you this morning, man.
You can take it any time, exactly the same, the same, the fifth day.
And we came back and Joe just got the bug.
He went, I'm going to Henry for summer now.
So he came back and off he went to Henry for any kind of back from Henry for any event to me.
He went, I'm going to Australia.
And I was like, no, I ain't, he's like, I'm going, man, I'm not coming back.
And he went off to Australia, all done all the, the Asia, Meta Girl.
What he said to me, he said to me, he's dreaming, wanting to meet a Canadian woman.
He said, well, you go to Australia.
Good question.
Get married to a Canadian woman, living Canada.
He added in his head, he was like, that's what he was going to do.
Anyway, I didn't go that way.
He met the Southern Girl, Australia, and then they moved to New Zealand.
And he opened a restaurant.
I mean, it's been New Zealand 15 years now.
And they opened this restaurant in New Zealand.
He's still got the Warsaw accent.
And he's with another girl who's like, working there, and he's there, a restaurant together.
He's got a baby, and he's a set for life.
Yeah, but I still speak so much.
He's probably on a podcast now, he's never a charity.
Yeah, he's talking about you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Did you say you said, but you need to straighten them out and help get his books sorted.
So you obviously did that, but was that just a side effect of just like focus and commitment?
And also finding the right, it was 100%.
I wanted to be there with him.
Like I knew, he's my mate.
He's never been in common, I knew that I'd have a great time myself if he was there.
So it was more sort of like dedication to being living out there with him rather than the actual work.
And what about for you and how you developed in that time?
So the rave scene sounds like it's still part of your world in Manorka, but maybe it's like,
if we found all the parties.
I bet.
Well, I went to Obae for my 19th birthday.
I was willing to go for a day and come back a week later.
I'd never got the sack.
You did get the sack, do you?
No, never.
I never got the sack.
I'm an odd of sat me.
Yeah, I came back.
Not ready to go off.
I'm absolutely blessed.
Do you remember, because when you referred to the couple that owned it and how lovely they were,
do you remember how they approached that?
So you're coming back expecting to get the sack?
They never told me off that.
So they didn't even tell you off.
They only told us off.
I only got one telling off while we were there.
And it was just like, it was nothing, really, but I just remember them just being so nice.
But looking back now, I mean, the same way that I was asking you about your mum and the way she was thinking about you,
and it sounds like she could just see the right things and she's like, you need this time.
I'm just going to be here.
This house is going to be here.
You go do you.
Were they doing something similar, do you think?
Maybe they knew they knew I needed that in my life.
When we left Spain, I was like, and why did you leave Spain?
Did you just come to me?
We did a whole season and we did another.
So it was the first time that they'd, I think they would say it as well, but they said that we were their favourite,
just that they've had over the 15 years.
Unfortunately, they sold it and moved back to the UK really shortly after we went two years later,
because they thought we wanted to school the kids in the UK, they just went backwards and made a,
they should have stayed there, it's an amazing place.
I mean, I've been back nearly every year since it's a part of Darlord.
It's like the most beautiful part of Spain protected, like, no English breakfast cafes.
Oh right.
It's all very traditional, beautiful, beautiful, 45 minutes to top to bottom.
Yeah, it's unbelievable, unbelievable.
The dream is to have a restaurant there six months on six months.
Nice, yeah.
And it's close to our beefer.
But I remember saying, there was a big gate crash here.
I wasn't into the high streets sort of parties, but they were doing this party of the NEC in Birmingham.
Right, a lot bit the whole arenas.
And I was like, 20,000 people in Birmingham have never seen this.
I was like, I've got to go back for this.
So that's what got you back.
I went, we need to go back for September for this.
And they were like, yeah, four, no pay, it was just.
No, they didn't go back.
Yeah, there's a tree.
And yeah, that's what we came back.
Went to this party and that was us back in a tandem, not two, three, fags.
The Chinatown, I guess I would say, well, two, two, three, two, three, two, and yeah, it was the Gloudeis.
And then that party was like the instigator of going back, seeing everyone.
And then I basically spent six months just absolutely can in it every weekend,
because I hadn't been doing that much.
And just having an unbelievable time, just like party, party, party.
Can I just jump in with another quick question?
Don't lose that point because we'll come back there in a second.
But again, earlier, I asked you about you're in the system,
a page 14 or whatever it was and you were like, man, this isn't for me, I'm going to have to go figure out the system for myself.
A lot of people now at the stage that you're at where the rave seems to be such a big part of their life
would end up getting consumed by that system and end up getting spout in the wrong direction.
And again, that didn't happen to you. Why? Why did that not happen?
I don't know.
And then during this time, I don't know, maybe I had this cooking thing, it was all, it was there, but I wasn't taking it.
Like really seriously.
And I remember someone saying to me in a kitchen, you get a Michelin style, you would, if you kept the...
Who was that? Who said that?
Just, I can't remember it was a random guy in a kitchen.
But they said it with a level of integrity.
Yeah, you said that.
He was like, if you took, seriously, you'd have a Michelin style.
This is like when I'm like 18.
So you could see that you weren't taking a seriously?
People were seeing it, yeah, and I weren't.
So do you think that was in the background somewhere? I've got this magic...
I've got this magic seal.
Yeah, interesting.
And then...
I just think it happens to us all, I'm absolutely sure about it.
But these people that pop had been their lives, who just say one thing.
It's one sentence at the right time.
And one thing, we chatted to Bof, Bof, I lost...
Last week, you were a week off from...
Yeah, Bof from Chamber Wamba.
He said it to me. He said it to me.
We didn't write in a book about this, I thought he said it.
He's going back to visit the people that have said those things.
Because he really recognised that those little comments, those little things...
They were the turning points.
They were turning points, that's right.
When you do...
I stopped them when I was speaking about that, Chef, and I was like, never really thought of that.
But if you were for him, and Anagon College, I haven't really used my qualification.
But he wouldn't give you the direction.
And I wouldn't have gone to Spain, for sure.
And also, those qualifications, and I did the same thing, I wasn't exactly spectacular at school,
to say the least. But I did go back to college later on.
And I saw it as an insurance policy, because I'm going to set up my own business.
I'm going to do my own thing. But if it all goes tits up, at least I've got the qualification.
I do this and that.
I just think, I think you're always... your energy and your where you meant to be,
your where you meant to be. I'm a great believer of that.
And I'll cover sleep. There's a real connection to things you should be doing.
And you'll be taken there, and I'm a great believer in it.
And that's definitely happened to me.
I've gone to places that I should be going to.
I've got a lot of Spain, an amazing thing.
But it really set me up for this job.
I didn't realise it back then, but we're being...
Living on my own, at Spain. My mum was a bit...
He's going to be alright, but he's going to be alright.
She comes to visit me. She was like, "This isn't amazing.
I was looking after myself."
We had her in the house. She'd come for a week, came to the restaurant.
She was like, "This is so good.
It's so happen."
She was like, "What was the sand in the shower every morning?"
My sister said that.
"What do you think?"
"What do you think the sand in the shower?"
So you're back in Birmingham.
And you've just said, "You've been caning it for six months or something."
Absolutely, catching up with everyone and going absolutely ham.
And it feels to me, like, at this point, you're bringing you and it back to Birmingham.
But we took it before again.
I've been doing this amazing job in Spain.
I'll just let it go again.
I was just like, "I'm going to have a ride with that."
Because I've missed...
Because I lived there for so long.
It's an amazing...
You get a feeling of it out there.
It's different, especially when you go to a party for the blaring.
It's just amazing.
But I was missing the grittiness of the UK and the parties.
A big club called Aired Open, which my friend started to get to kitchen.
They opened this purpose-built club and it become like the destination point.
And I remember going in there and they had this custom-science system
and I was just like, "Oh man, I can't not be here.
It's so good."
And the car park was like, "This being in place."
And then you were getting people coming from all over Europe
to go out and that's when you got a destination.
The car park was made of all these crushed cars.
And I just remember being there thinking, "You could have been like in Berlin.
Could have been anywhere."
I was like, "This is my home town.
This is a need to be here for this old one."
I'm not going to have been a part of it.
And then the cooking, it was just gone again.
I was just doing it.
And then I was like, "Maybe I'll get a little part-time job."
I went to work at this time, little hotel near the New Street Station,
which was really shit.
And I literally just do a breakfast stuff.
Just going straight from A into the back crash shift.
I was like, "Look at it, five hours done by like no, 11, 12, back out."
How were you thinking about money at this point?
I was just getting money from other things, selling other things.
So it wasn't, but it wasn't a focus.
It was enough to get by...
It wasn't something that was driving you.
Because again, for a lot of people, they'd be like, "Okay, where's the money?
How about going to work with that?"
And I was like, "That's why I think I love cooking as well."
Because I've got good in it now, but like,
I never saw it as like a job.
Yeah, if you're all for money, not at all real estate.
I was like, "I just love doing it."
So when I did it, I didn't really well.
I didn't do that breakfast shift, man.
I was like, "All over it, I'm my own doing all of it."
You know, these hotels where they all land on you at once,
you've got all these components going on.
And I'm like, "Full English is quite a technical dish, by the way, as well."
All these components got to be cooked right and time right.
I think people underestimate it, and I roast, and they're the two that people cook the most.
And they're like, quite intense dishes, man.
There's a lot going on.
So there's something about challenge there, isn't there?
There's something you like about a challenge.
I have to be challenged.
I still know, like, I'm here because I want to challenge myself,
just so the things go like that.
I don't ever want to stop being challenged, because then you're not getting anywhere,
you're not doing anything different, and you're not pushing yourself to be different.
So from that moment, then, so you're getting back into the cooking,
but only is a bit of a thing on the side,
and the roasting still a big part.
What led you to opening the restaurant?
Because that feels like a big leap of faith.
This is part of the patterns.
I remember going, I had this really wild night out, really wild.
It's all in my cookbook actually.
I did a cookbook based on my staff.
Oh, it's going to ask you about this.
Yeah, it's just going to jump in and explain what I see of that cookbook,
and we maybe will come back to it in a minute.
What I love about that is that when chefs make cookbooks,
there's a very obvious format, and it's like,
"Here are all the recipes.
This is what it looks like.
A little bit about me, a little bit about why I'm special at the end."
And I love what you've done, because you would be like,
"Now that's not what this cookbook's about.
What you're doing is shining a light on all of the people that supplied the ingredients."
That's right, right?
And you're going, "These are the ingredients,
and these are the people behind them."
So it's like, you're not putting yourself in this spotlight at all, really.
You're just saying, "I stand on the shoulders of giants."
So it's really just about them.
The book's quite meaningful thing.
I think we'll get into it when it's about the restaurant,
because it's like, for me, it's a creative thing.
And project, but it's got so much meaning to me,
and we'll get to that.
But in the book, I've got an illustrator to draw this.
I had this really mad LSD day.
I was going to ask you about the draw of the drug,
so maybe we'll touch on that here, I'll try that.
I had, at the end of this six month blast,
I had this, we went out, we didn't go out for New Year's Eve,
we went out for the after party, instead of six out in the morning,
we'd been out for like a few few nights.
So my record was six nights.
And we went out, we'd been out all these nights,
like three or four nights, and then went to the afters, got back,
and I was feeding it, I was like, "Oh man, I'm pushing myself."
But my friend came out with his pure LSD in drops,
and I've gotten a deep, too, personally.
I've always been the same, and I'm the first one to everything.
And I was like, "Yeah, let's have a go on that."
So we got all these sugar cubes out,
and we drew one drop, and I went,
because we used to do a radio show from this flat as well,
so we had the decks in the kitchen, speakers in the living room.
Anyway, I've gone in the kitchen, come back, I forgot, I've had this.
Let you forget, I don't have one.
I do.
And kept doing this, done it four times.
So this is what I've backed up to from my friends.
Anyway, I'm low-batchies anyway, and I just went wild west, man.
I can, I just, loads of mad things happen,
like it was a day time, and I've gotten illustrated to draw it,
because I was a trion representative of the going on.
So basically, jumped out of this window of the flat into the road
and I was like, "I'm a mattress, realize that was a stupid thing to do."
Everything hit me at the same time, I was like, "That was so dumb."
But you did actually do that.
Yeah, it made that rush.
So stupid.
And then I started walking down the high street,
I was like, "I've got to go home now, I've got to get away from them all."
And they were all really worried, I could tell, speaking some afterwards.
And then I got to the middle of the high street,
and I could heard this rumbling noise, and I turned around,
and Matt Donald's, like, peaked itself up, like a cartoon,
turned on the side, and then we looked really angry,
and started chasing it.
McDonald's started chasing it.
Yeah, down the road.
So obviously, I'm running down the road away from Matt Donald's in the middle of the day,
it's my mum.
Do you think they either chased any share for it, or do you think they were?
Well, this is how I got away in the book, so I put it in the book,
and I said, "Oh, yeah, it's me running away from the corporate brands."
Yeah, that I don't believe in, but it's not it's me in chase, but I'm not done on it.
Anyway, I'm on this road, and I'm thinking,
"I'm going to get away from this, so I'm running."
Obviously, I'm just running down the road in the middle of the day,
people are always there, all right?
And I saw this manhole, and I was like,
"I'm going to jump down this manhole, so obviously I've gone,
and bought him to stand on the floor going,
because there's no manhole."
And I'm going, you know what, cartoons, it's going really quick.
Yeah, I'm going down this manhole, and Matt Donald's is looking down the manhole,
and I'm like, "I've got away, but my friend's mum's over the other side of the road,
and he was like, 'Oh, she was like, 'Oh, my God.'
So she went over and got me, and tried to make sense of it.
She was like, 'I've got to get him home.'
And she bundled me in a car.
I remember to be bailing in this car, and then I got thrown into my phone garden.
And then I went into the house, and I was like, 'Mah, mama, I'm on another planet.'
And she was like, 'Okay, he's going, 'Shut it, so I'll fall asleep, let me in the bedroom.'
And after that, something, I was like, 'I'm not going to have three months.
Like, I've overdone it.'
And I was like, 'I'm going to start cooking, I'm going to go to get a job,
I'm just like, working again.'
So, was it something about what happened on that trip?
Or was it that you knew you'd overdone it?
I just knew I was only going to be doing it.
Yeah, and I'm like, 'If I like something, like...'
You'll go all in.
'I like the shirt, and I've got it in my three colours.'
It's nice shirt.
'You don't have me like...'
I know.
'I get a like something, because I have every single colour, and every single version of it,
and I'm the same with everything.
If I like, let's do it, I'm going to have a lot of it.'
So, I've always liked that side of the racing, because it enhances the experience.
That's what I was going to ask you.
'How much was it opening you up more than you already were?'
I think it was definitely a amazing for me, and it was opening me up socially,
making me like a better person, 100%.
I believe that for everyone.
I actually, I prescribe it to people when they tell me how they feel,
and it's like, 'You should have a little bit of this, now.'
'When I was a man, you're quite a...'
'Don't tell the cats.'
I think when you're young, you're a bit abusive, like a speed to my boys about it.
It's like, you've got this mentality of just wanting to get in a state,
whereas in the night, he's like, and the two fayasans,
it was about the music, and they were enhancing the music,
and it's just like a good system, or a club, or a bunch of people.
The tweaked never sound like they do when it's like that,
so everything's so much more enhanced,
the visual abuse, that.
For me, that's how it was, but there's a bit of an abusive side
when you're a kid, you're like, 'I can see how much I'm not matched up, I'm a man.'
So you're pushing these things to their side?
'I'm a decent, I'm older and I love these things.'
So you were pushing these things to their edges?
Just because of my age, and I think being your lover.
Because you wanted to experiment and just see what happened in a different way.
And I've always been, like, two days after it, I've always been at my most creative.
I wake up at three o'clock in the morning, I'll write something in my book, next to my bed,
which I have all time, and it'll be some of the best things we've ever done or ever dreamt of.
Well, coming to you in dreams almost.
And has that always been the case in case?
Or even before 13?
Always, like, always think of stuff.
So, and the restaurant, so I basically got this job,
I was on my own going, 'Cookie and so I got this job in a hotel.'
I started to think, 'What am I weak at?'
So I was like, 'I think any good company in the world, they always say, 'What's wrong with our product?'
'What's not right with it?'
'What's not what's right with it?'
'What's wrong with it?'
'It's like, 'Wesens do here.'
So, even when I was younger, 'Hold on, let me just unpack that.'
I think there's something important there.
Too many companies look at their products and focus on how they can make the product better,
rather than what is bad about it and how it can improve them.
But the bad bits, yeah, okay.
And I've always been very analytical of myself.
But then, after that bad time, I was like,
'I'm pretty shit and slow at prepping a kitchen on fresh food.
So, I'm going to go and work somewhere where it's going to make me faster and better.'
So, I never once crossed my mind I was going to go and work for a famous chef.
Because, I said to you earlier, 'It's nothing wrong with you.'
Chefs do it, it's a really amazing thing that you get fast-tracked to the top.
You've got a selection of dishes which are safety net fall back that you can go to,
put on tweak a little.
And it's one of the things that's so interesting about you,
but there's a lot of stuff that's really interesting about you.
One of the most obvious ones is that most chefs that end up where you are
have followed the path that you were describing.
And you didn't work for...
This was a time, this was what I'm saying.
This was a time where it would have been a really good idea to go,
try and get a job of Ramsey's kitchen when he was at his peak, 2001.
And he'd open that restaurant and everyone's going, 'Oh, Ramsey is not your...'
'What are you going to work there?'
'Is that never was it ever going to be...'
'I never ever thought I was going to do that...'
'Did you rule it out?
No, I just never thought about it.'
I was always like, 'I'll just work somewhere where I'll better myself.'
'I just didn't feel like I needed to go and work with someone
and get. I don't know whether it was like I didn't want to...
I know for a fact like I didn't want to have a smile like anyone else's.
That was definitely a fault.
I always went through him ahead.
I was like, 'I want to be individual.'
'Can I start you there?'
'Cause this is the conversation that we were having on the way up
is about this individual versus group.
And you just said, you wanted to be individual.
If you'd have followed...
And let's face it, copied, learnt from.
And it's great to learn from people.
No doubt about it.
But you can only be as good as them.
And you want to be your own person.
You don't...
You don't...
You are a creative.
That's it.
The buzz you get is from...
Creating something special out of what other people would see is nothing.
And so I suppose the question is...
What's the question?
Other chefs. Who were the chefs you admire?
And are they the same...
Built out the same, made of the same stuff?
When I was talking about watching TV and growing up and stuff.
I didn't really... That was the time of the celebrity chef really.
That's when they started to be on TV.
Who were the chefs?
Who were the chefs?
I didn't find a person inspiring.
I found the British vibe inspiring.
All these chefs are starting to like pot-breach cuisine and products.
On the maps of Jamie Oliver.
Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay.
You started to see these guys on TV.
All of a sudden, this was a serious job.
You know, it's never been respected in the UK until all these guys started pointing on telly.
And saying, "Actually, can I get career out of cooking here?
He can be good."
And I just really like Rick Stein.
I just love the way.
Again, he was a DJ in Padstown, weren't he?
Yeah, he just... He learned a chef.
He just started learning himself.
And that's why most of the best chefs in the world are self-taught.
Most of them are the interesting chefs and stories.
And it's probably not just food, is it?
You know, if you... Anything.
I think like...
Gordon Ramsay's become like...
Obviously a world name now and I think...
What I will always say about him is...
He achieved everything you could possibly achieve as a chef in the kitchen.
And then he went, "Right, what can I do now?"
And people that have got a lot to say about him and he's a swear.
He's a bit of an act now, right?
That's his job, that's what he does.
And he's a TV personality.
And then, "Well, TV personality is part of an act."
No matter if it's this morning or a chef doing what he does.
But from a chef's point of view, from industry point of view,
he went, "Now, all absolutely everything he wanted to know,
in the kitchen, he went and worked for the best.
He created his own, got his own restaurant.
One, two, three stars, Bush, done, that's what he wanted to do,
and he said, "And then?"
And then, sort of, as well, as he was near almost a professional footballer,
and they had some sort of accident, and he was never going to do that.
So he's like, "You can understand that with that person, that late time is like,
"Okay, what's the path of least resistance? Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
that's the plan, get there, I'm done."
So it's like hard to not be inspired by that?
But look at that, it's a different game.
Yeah, I think that's what you were pointing at, Ray.
One game is like being very, very deliberate and very consistent.
You've got to have some skill and some capability,
but put yourself in the right places and kind of just work into that goal.
But the other game is like putting the creativity front and centre,
and going, "Now, it's in service of the creativity."
Yeah, this whole idea of getting good at the game is like obsessed about it,
and I think so many people get good at the game,
and they think that's the only game.
And if you can get really good at one game,
you can probably get good at quite a few games,
and I believe that life is better when you can get pretty good at lots of different games,
rather than just that one game, because then you...
Or to use the metaphor, you can take a really good game and make the game more fun by changing the rules.
Yeah, you can do that as well, but that's a slightly different approach,
and it's completely valid, yeah, absolutely,
then you're reinventing the game.
So coming back to that moment then, you said,
"I realised that I wasn't a strong in prep,
and so I'm going to go focus on this."
So I basically thought, "I'm going to...
I always thought, 'I said I was anilit's cool,' and I was like,
'if I want to be at this certain point,
it hadn't crossed my edge in my mind at this point,
I'm going to be a chef in a restaurant, and my own restaurant."
I was just like, "I want to be at...
I want to start cooking a bit more, and get focused into that."
So I was like, "I'm pretty slow."
So why don't I work somewhere, which is so intense.
So I picked this hotel, I was pretty new in Birmingham,
it's not the only place, 'cause C.E. and it was really good.
And it was real all fresh, really nice for me,
and I thought, "Precfist lunch, dinner there, I'm going to have to be quick."
And it's all fresh.
So I went in, like a...
I can't be chef job, which is the lowest level on this section,
which is a hot starter, so it's like a lot of stuff is coming off of there,
so you've got a lot of the breakfast stuff, a lot of the lunch stuff,
you know, like potato roast stebes on the menu,
it's like a thousand a day on the preplaced,
so you have to be quick.
So I was like, "I'm either going to sink or swim,
so I'm going to give it a go."
Anyway, I've done really well, kept up, got a job done,
got promoted to running the section over and other laddoos,
actually older than me, and it was a problem,
but for him, for him.
And it's the first problem I'd ever had in the kitchen.
It's like, "I love, I go into a kitchen, any kitchen,
I go into a lot now, so I cook all over,
and I feel the same in every kitchen, so it's like an open space, it's crazy."
Like, as soon as I got my bearings, I'm like,
"I could cook, like I say to my chef, I feel it, good in here,
I like the people in here."
Some kitchens are going to, they're like enclosed,
and someone's going through a divorce over there,
someone's like, like, on their fifth wife, you know,
and some kitchens, they're created by the chef,
and they're just not nice.
But at the same time, you'll always create, no?
It's not so high school.
And I've done well in that kitchen, I've got around him,
this is the first problem, so he was a nightmare,
he was causing me aggro, and trying to,
he was trying to get one over me in the kitchen,
it's a competitive place, right?
So he was trying to highlight, he was lying with prep and doing things,
and anyway, I lost it one day, and I basically tried to kill him
in the public area.
With what?
With my bear, I know.
All right, okay.
That's good, because there's sharp things in good areas.
And I'll just fall, you know what?
I'm probably going to lose this job, but he needs telling,
and this chef can't control him, I'm going to fucking tell him.
So, he basically, I've done all these eggs,
like, fives and eggs, and they popped them all in the drawer,
and my break, the final straw man.
And they were all perfect, as well.
I've got a bit of OCD, well, I've got a lot of OCD,
a little bit of OCD, and I've got the best of these.
I've got this long-droid j-cluff on it, all these eggs,
all eat them maculately, and I'm going to push up the drawer
when I'm a break, it's like that.
And then obviously, he's done that, so then lost it.
And then anyway, I spoke to Chef Abali,
and he was like, yeah, we've been watching all these for a while now,
he's leaving, so, and they got rid of him.
And he was like, that's...
It was a good moment for me, in the kitchen.
Because everybody in any business, well, not in any business,
any environment knows when somebody's a complete dickhead.
Somebody may say it, but everybody else is probably...
It was a good lesson for me now, and I'm managing people,
but I have done for so long, 15, 20 years.
And I, my own being, are responsible for people now.
That was a good lesson for me, seeing that.
When's the right thing to do?
When's not...
I was in the wrong hour, man, so, but I said,
I shouldn't have lost it.
And they were like, yeah, you should know, then you're going to get a written warning.
And I was like, okay, and they're like, but the bigger picture
that would be monitoring is...
You try, someone's trying to...
To good you down for your job.
But there are people in life who do believe that it is a competitive situation.
You versus them, whereas, you know, it isn't like that.
It's a machine of kitchen work together.
You could learn stuff from him, possibly.
Because there's some things that he would have probably been quite good at.
You learn from everyone, it's no matter what they're doing,
you know, I just say that all the time.
I learn things off the youngest chef when I go to someone else's kitchen
over the older chef sometimes, because I'd purposely get them to spend more time.
Because obviously they're the ones who are the next generation.
The head chef, yeah, always going to get to know the main chef,
but it's the kids you want to be worrying about.
And that for me was a bit of a...
It was a great job and a great...
Another big turning point of the day.
Yeah, and it was a big moment with that getting promoted.
And I'd cracked it.
I'd been there like a year and a half, and I was like, I'm done.
There's nothing else to achieve here.
I don't want to be the sous chef.
I don't want to be...
Because then again...
It's just...
The system. just for the back.
I'm moving out, and then I'll be part of that brand.
And then I'll be in that brand forever.
I'll feel nervous to leave, and I was like, I've got to go now.
And I got a newspaper, opened it in the old job adverts in the back.
It's tiny little bucks.
It said family run restaurant, and it was in Shirley Birmingham.
Heads chef.
Sous chef to head chef.
Because I hate all these higher-art kitchen stuff, but unfortunately we have to use it to differentiate.
And it's like this...
This French brigade system was created by scoffiers, kitchen in the Savoy.
Everything on against.
And that's what we all...
But I'm saying it, but I don't actually believe in that sous chef head chef all these.
Again, I'm just going to jump in really quick, because what you're talking about is...'ve recognised that there is a system again.
But actually that system might be the best we've got at the moment.
And so it's like as much as you dislike the system...'s like, well, I'm finding something better, so I'm going to use that one.
Yeah, exactly, yeah, exactly.
And I'll have a soy-sli-l-advert, little phone number, I'll call them... the kitchen hotel, kitchen, I'll see... the newspaper.
And I was like, I really want to come for a trial for this position.
It was like, what I wanted was...
...I looked at it and I was like, this is a family-run restaurant.
I'm going to be in the nuts and bolts of it.
I'm going to be seeing the owner, pay the staff.
Everything's going to be...
...I'm going to see everything I've gone from this... corporate sort of hotel brand, which is all HR perfect.
And to this little rustic restaurant, a brassware...
...where I'll get to add to the menu.
And I'll start to feel like that.
I was 20, now I was now 20, 22.
And my thought...
...I want to be exposed to it, so that's why I called them.
I got the trial, winning, got the job.
Tiny little restaurant, two floors, really busy.
Head of its time, I think, personally, I think it's still relevant now...
...what we were doing.
And we were doing, like, brassware food.
But I was at a stage, like...
...I was pointing to me on the menu and then learning how to cook it.
I had no fucking idea what I was doing last time.
But they embraced that, right?
But just what I love about cooking as well is... engages every sense in the human body.
Everything... go for every emotion when you cook.
Again, I noticed that earlier before we started recording...
...because you were talking about a sound system in Ibiza.
And I noticed the way you were talking about hearing.
And I was thinking, I bet there's a cross over there between...
...your senses and more alive for some reason.
You know, because the taste...
...the way you taste things, again, I noticed that in you.
There's something about the senses of a life.
Has that always been a thing?
Again, you just feel like you're born with that.
I think that this mad trend of music and food...
...been coming together at the moment.
And it's a lot of some people doing it really badly.
Some people doing it naturally.
But it is...
...that going into a club and the visuals and the senses is like...
...when I'm in the service.
It's like I'm trying to create this perfect... time and place moment for that person to have it.
And that's what the taste and everything is part of that.
And I just...
...I went to work at this little place.
I earned a restaurant, I've had a look.
And that's where I met her.
Back then.
So, which she worked in?
Yeah, she was 19, she was working there.
So, how did you partner?
Yeah, so I worked there for a year.
Before we got together and we worked together.
We just worked together really well.
And that was when I decided...
...I was going to take cooking seriously and I was going to be a chef.
That's where...
...bump of 22, 23.
And that also, the moment you decided you wanted to do your own thing?
That came within...
...I'd say...
...six to eight months of being there, meaning...
...and going, "What are you going to do this together?"
Did it start to become a combined dream at that point then?
So, Holly had some...
She just...
...she's born as a mentality really.
She was doing... she didn't have fun social care, which is people as well.
And then she went to this low-core restaurant just to work there.
And then she's just really good.
And just don't really well for her age and started to run it.
And then me and her treated it like our own.
Young, 23, 20, running this restaurant like it does.
And it was six years, so I was there.
And it was an amazing little business.
It done so much good business.
I saw every ass, I saw...
...managing staff pace at all the chefs' older than me.
So, I had to learn how to boss and manage chefs that were older...
...that thought they knew better.
They thought they were a lot to learn, a lot to learn.
Like I said, if I didn't know how to cook it, I would have to put it on the menu.
And I think we just had a really nice little place and it was ahead of its time.
It wasn't well-owning, Birmingham.
It was a low-core restaurant for the neighbourhood, for the people who live around there.
And it was popular, we still get people come to the restaurant now who remember us all day.
So that was the business of food that you started to learn as well as?
But how much were you zooming in on so the thing that you're known for today?
And that IOC really, really likes you up is this idea of finding flavour that's as close to you as possible.
And trying to recreate flavours that you can only get if you travel thousands of miles.
You know, replacing the ingredients.
Was that starting to come into it?
Yeah, obviously, we were a bit more, like, I was definitely 100% focused on this low-core British produce thing even when I was 23.
I was like, I only want to use good steak.
I think these programmes were good, they were kind of giving you the information that Achise was good and that our farms were good and you don't need to.
And Spain showed me how you don't mess with produce, you know, like, produce is prod-king.
And winning your piece of competition?
Yeah, yeah.
What is prod-ing?
If you start with the best, you're only going to end up with the best unless you completely fuck it up.
And I mean, like, if you start with shit, you're going to end with shit and you see it so much.
So those things, like, even though I wasn't consciously thinking about it, they were telling me in the background and I've come back now, I've got older.
I've realised they were moments that made me think the way I do about produce.
And then obviously, having the option to change the menu and be creative and put stuff on that I wanted was then showing me that I could create and I was dishes with my own.
So, like, I remember, like, my bus there, he was like young as well.
And I only left because he took himself out of the business. He lives in Australia, you know.
And his dad was taking over and he wanted to turn it back into, like, a really shit-bring-your-oh-and-a-tees-cand-alarbers on the table.
I was just going in a different direction.
But I remember him saying, like, where does this shit come from in your head?
But we're doing, like, staking... staking chips, right?
But instead of burning a sauce, I'd be like, I want to do burning butter.
So I'd get all the flavours of burning a-is, put it into the butter and then rest the butter on the stock.
I'd just think he always thought a little bit differently, like, I always wanted to do something that hadn't been done before.
And sometimes, no day was shit, because I was young and I was learning.
But you knew it was shit?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I would say.
And then all of a sudden, I just started to get my... I felt comfortable.
We had a tiny little kitchen, no equipment in it, it was shit-holes.
I absolutely, I don't know how we cooked out of it.
But we just started making it really, really, really amazing stuff.
And it was just, we were going, getting to a point, I was like, bloody, I'm not, we could be doing it anywhere.
And I could be cooking this in like a country, as a talent, it'd be like, really well known, and people would be flucking for it.
And because I had to leave quite a sudden there, I just...
I found this pub called the Punch Bowl, which is like 20 minutes from there.
It's in this countryside of Salillo.
And I was like, it was one of my suppliers supplied down, I was like, need a job fast, because I need to get out of this place when this dad was taking it over, because I didn't agree with it.
And then it was like, you'll never get another job, there's no jobs out there anyway, it's like 10 interviews the next day.
And I went to this pub and I loved it.
So, I was thinking in my head, I was like, what's my next move going to be?
Because we've kind of run this like our own now, it's going to be very difficult to come back to this.
And find this again, because this place was so...
It's a long time, having your own thing and doing it.
Obviously I was employed by them, but I had free creative range, which is now what I've had since I was 23, which is...
And that's the bit that's most unusual, right?
Yeah, I mean, they trusted in me and they liked me, but realistically, yeah, that was probably way better, shef's out there technically.
But I just had this creative flare where I would just do it and I'd make it work.
And I'm sure the menus were chaos, so there was stuff that was very classical and then I had some wacky Japanese at the bottom, I'm sure it was,
but I'd like to look back at them, like now, and look for them and laugh at them.
And I thought it's going to be, I don't know, anyway, the reason I like this pub, I thought this British thing that I'm doing,
like there's nothing more British than a pub, and all the pubs in the area were just fluffing everything up,
and I was pink fluffing all these pubs, and the food was not British, and it was just, you know, that stuff for me and I never duck and hoisin sauce on a...
In this most beautiful pub, and I was like, what are they doing, man?
And I was like, I'm going to completely turn it British, like, 100% free components on plate.
I was going to do the most British, cosy, British pub, really good food, because we'll stick out, and the bus was like worried because he didn't want it to be too different to the other businesses.
I get it, but you have to take a risk, and we did, and we literally got packed, like we turned it around.
We had the owners of the other pubs eating every Sunday, lunch with us, because it's what it should have been like.
We were doing like, we got really well over beef Wellington, so we did beef Wellington, individual ones.
We used to sell hundreds of them a week, and they were like, hey, good up, you know.
But all hand-made, not beef fillet, we used to swap the...
So I wasn't as strict about that, like I used to use the fire grasses, French ingredient, and it's one thing that I miss actually.
I actually found the way to reproduce that, yeah.
There's an ethical version of it now, there's Germany in France.
No one does it in the UK, and the closest thing I got was, I was like, I want to replace it.
So I started speaking to my chicken farmer, who's Rob Caudicot, he's an amazing guy, he's not far from here.
He, I said, how can we recreate fire grass in a better way, more sustainable way and all that?
And he was like, well, there's these old hens that have naturally fat livers from their breeding process, and he showed me a lot of fire grass.
I was like, I want to get it, mate.
And the silly laws in the UK, means that you can't eat it, you can't.
So all these mad farming laws that we've got that are all waffle, honestly.
Like go do a different room, for instance.
For instance, raw milk, right, comes out of a cow, that's absolutely delicious.
Me and you could go to the shop and buy that now, drink it, but a chef can't buy the milk to make something with it.
He's fucking dumb, man.
So I can't buy it as the middle man to make ice cream out of it, but I could go to the shop and buy it.
And make ice cream out of it.
Do you know what I mean? That's the laws that we're dealing with.
So the chickens fell under this kind of, you can't eat them, they're not safe, there's nothing wrong with them.
But they looked like a fire grass, I imagine serving British fire grass.
And they were like, "I'm a waste by a product as well, so you've got more meaning."
So that was one thing that I went down.
So just give it to Neil.
Neil, you're suggesting that Brad sort of heads a campaign to get foie gras into schools?
Is that what you were saying?
Why not?
Did Holly go with you to this, to be so much fun?
She came to the pub, so we were like, we're going to move.
And people always been wary of couples, right?
I was thinking the same thing.
But we were like, work this place for a moment.
Anyway, we went and she became a manager there.
And I was very, I actually went in as the second chef and the chef that I was working with.
I then, I was then really serious about cooking, you know, I was like,
"I'm going to, at the same time, actually," I said to you, "I always want to better myself."
I didn't know how to butcher anything.
I was doing this rush hour of six years.
I was buying everything in butchered from over the road.
And I had no, what I was like to realise was this was an animal.
And I was like, "We need to pay this animal respect, you know, this is not just a piece of me,
like chefs think really weirdly sometimes."
I was like, "This is an animal, and we should be getting it on the bones, and we should be respecting it."
I always lead the head on a fish when I feel it is because I was a respect for the fish.
I have these moments now, where I'm sort of, it's like a bit of a ceremony or thing.
And I see chefs whip the head off a fish and I'm like, "Whoa, give it some respect, you know, like,
please, help fill it, you know, like, respect the thing."
So as I've got older and more sort of, you know, some like, a bit more like that.
But then I was like, "I don't know how to butcher stuff, man, I'm like, I need,
if I'm going to be a chef, I want my own."
And then I just put it on my place.
The more you put a knife to meet, the more it costs.
So the butcher time, all that intricate butcher, that's what cost money.
So we could be paying six pound for a steak, whereas if I did it, we could be paying two, five.
So I went to work at my butcher called Orbealining Coventry for three, for six months,
at four o'clock in the morning to learn it.
So I was like, "I asked them, I'm happy to, like, just be funny in the corner,
just, I just really need you out, and I need to be able to do this."
And they were like, "Yeah, of course, we'd love to help you."
Because they only, what I love about them as well, they're okay in butcher,
but they only take on apprentices so they've got no bad habits they try on them from the up,
so they just treat me like that.
And at the end of the six months, I was on the plaque with the butcher's,
flying through the work, doing it to that level.
So now, like...
How long were you there for?
Six months, okay, so...
Yeah, and you could have gotten encouraged to learn that.
Yeah, I was like, "I need to be, I need to be in the place, all by in the big..."
Exactly, I trust.
Well, then I just can't wait with them.
And now I know, I know things like that.
I might march, my own shark, literally, have whole animals in there.
And I've got tears coming in next week from the state next door from the Harvinson.
So, like, do you want us to let them in, and that's send them in.
But, put it up on there, get a skin off.
That's the level I want me to be at, you know, like, all them years ago.
I was like, "That's where I want to be."
And I could see, even though I was a bit young, wild, and naive, and stupid,
I still had a focus, like...
I think the reason I do what I do now is...
I read a lot, a lot of books I always have.
And I remember reading these Japanese, like, mind set book, like...
The way that the... not even just chefs, but obviously I'm a chef, so that's an example.
The way they think.
Do you remember what it was called, bro?
I don't.
I might look it up, I may not.
Let me try and find out.
I've basically seen Ted cookbooks in Japanese, and there's a story that I've told a customer,
and they always say about it.
There was a recipe that I decoded it on Translate, because I really...
I remember seeing this preparation, I was like, "I really want to learn it, it was all in Japanese."
And I decoded it every...
I spent an hour a month, every month, when I first started the restaurant,
decoded these techniques, inputting it into Translate,
and just piecing it together the English, and then working it out, and then trying it in A.
And I was like, "Yes."
It's obviously I've never been there.
And then they brought out a British version.
But anyway, I went through the pain and process.
Sorry, I was in that book.
The Japanese book before that.
The mentality was.
I remember the way they think about everything in their culture in Japan,
and their work is how I live my life, how I adapt to my work.
So they master something.
So like, if a chef in Japan asked to cook rice for ten years before they allowed to do anything else,
because they have to be able to cook rice.
Now, if we went all when I'm not that in the UK, we'd be as ahead of them in food.
But we don't, but my mentality is that.
And then when...
With the ingredients thing, I'm using British.
That's come.
That came at the pub, but then I got really strict with it.
I've been a restaurant about five years in, but it took five years.
But what I love, I see a lot of...
People say to me, "It's quite an Asian influence, but it's not at all, but it's the way that we think."
Oh, I got it.
The purism of ingredients.
Take the perfect sushi, right?
It's perfect rice, a piece of perfect fish, and sauce.
It's three things, right?
And they're all perfect done by a master.
And that's how I think it's like, "I want to get three ingredients and make it perfect on a plate."
And that's the mentality crosses over a lot.
And I remember reading that book and thinking, "How you should specialise."
If you specialise, you'll always be...
You'll always be truited to what you believe in your work, and people will come for it, or whatever you do.
Even if you make a bench, but you're like...
You focus so much on how that leg's going to look on that table and how...
You want that to be the most unique version in your own.
That's how often come out of the work that we do.
That's kind of how it is.
And so it sounds like the restaurant was becoming more obvious as a future.
Was that the case?
Yeah, it just started to get quite prescriptive.
It's like, "Okay, that year, this is how we're going to fund it, this is what we're going to do.
It's going to be in this sort of location you were sort of building your plan."
Yeah, I did never...
I still very much wasn't like a confident chef like, "I'm going to open a restaurant, it's going to be this certain."
We just realised that we weren't in these two places together as treating it like our own.
And we were like, "We should have our own."
And we wanted to have a place where I could do what I wanted to do, create it in my work.
And we could basically build a life and make a living from.
So we were like, "If we can do that, that's what my mum said to me a little years ago.
If you can do that, you job done."
So that's why we wanted to work towards the restaurant.
So then in 2010, we'd been at the pub for only one year.
And I would have stayed there for a long hour, I loved it, but the opportunity came to do the restaurant a bit faster.
So a weird situation was when I was in Menorca, this builder,
and he's wife we were eating from Salliel, and we had power cut and he came in and fixed the power cut in the cabbages meal for free.
And they were really nice couple, Maze, they don't really have themselves.
And they came to Toykin Shirley, where I was working after a few years after that.
And they said, "Oh, the food's amazing, can we meet the chef?"
I didn't know it was you.
And I went out and I went out and I was like, "Mad, lady knows me, but you're new, Holly."
Because they were going there anyway, and I know a lot of food so much better than it was me, and I was like, "Ah, mad, absolutely mad."
And we just stayed, they'd been touching, they'd followed me about it, and they used to come there every week,
a couple of times a week to be fair.
And then when we went to the punch bar, remember he came in to eat for his birthday, and he was like,
"What are you going to do next?"
I was like, "I want to open my restaurant."
I was like, "I got it in my head."
I was still going, the parties were still happening and available, and I was still working, but because I'd started to write and MC,
I was like, "I need to take one more series of them in the other."
And I just really enjoyed the obviously work with Holly and doing it.
And he was like, "Well, let's speak about it if you want to do it."
So then we spoke about how we were going to support him from this place, and he was like, "Yeah, we can help."
And then we just went out of him, he moved only one night, and we used to like this area that we picked,
we wanted to open an able-hood restaurant.
The idea was to open a restaurant that gave us a living, allowed me to be creative still,
and we opened a restaurant for the people to connect between the city and the country,
the country, there was nothing.
So we were like, "Let's open a restaurant for them."
And we just drove past this site, looked at it, it was not that big, great place, a restaurant, a fan of landlord.
He liked us, he'd already got an off-ronic for an India restaurant, but there was plenty of them in Birmingham.
And he liked us, and he liked what I was talking about doing.
And then, so that was 2009 to 2010 at the pub, in 2010, the Vemba opened a restaurant.
That was a big moment, but it was quite terrified of that.
And your guy that had come over from Menorca, did he help fund it, and he helped set the restaurant,
to be all the help to him ever.
And in terms of what he needed from it, he was looking at as an investment and also supporting you in the local area and stuff.
And was that obvious?
Recently, we've parted ways, like last few years.
But it always be a friend of mine.
I'll never forget that guy was the opportunity to put us there.
He knew the talent.
He had business of his own, he's got a business success, both of them.
And their business, Accra, was what we needed.
We needed some, we needed a certain sense.
We needed someone with expertise that had been there and done it.
Yeah, okay, so they were sort of a holding hand as much as investors.
But also investors.
I wasn't like a famous chef who could get, you know.
And like someone walking, an already-amissioning-star chef, you know.
I want to open a restaurant.
Yeah, he is 2 million per hand, we'll get it back in three years.
It's like massive investment, it was like small amount, really.
Let's have a go, let's see if we can do it.
They believed in us, but.
But I just want to understand, it sounds like he saw opportunity, you saw opportunity.
And it didn't sound like it was very difficult to turn that into some kind of partnership structure, deal, whatever.
Yeah, where you trust each other and you're just like, okay, we're all going to win on this.
If we get it right, and presumably that was the case.
Yeah, yeah.
And we just like, I was like, when I opened it, I was like, 27, 26, 27, Hollywood, three years younger.
No profile, like I said, never worth anyone more than opening a kind of ambitious restaurant.
You know, doing just British, doing this.
I've got to ask you a question.
And it's been crossing my mind as we've been talking.
What would you do to relax?
I'm told to relax a lot, I don't know how to.
Do you know what?
Although it's chaotic last week, you know, I'd be like, well, it was.
It's a silence for me.
But you know what you're doing?
I'm relaxed.
In the clubs pounding.
Yeah, I get that.
It's a silence for me.
It's like, I feel so at home in a club, I walk in there, I like, it's my place.
It's just a happy place.
It's a bit of a mentor, but I just exhale there, I just feel it.
I just love the feeling of it, and I've relaxed there.
And I love it.
So how do you incorporate music into what you have here?
I think this has came in the restaurant, obviously we started it and any good place as a personality involved in it.
And I started it and I was a bit lost, to be honest, to be honest.
I started it, like I said, I used to learn how to cook stuff.
I just, I think I'd made this place, like it was a lovely little space, but I made this place like it's in a million times.
I played it a bit, so.
And I was young and I was worried we were going to fuck it up all the time.
And we were quiet at the start, no one knew I was.
I hadn't got this profile.
I'd been on Great British Menu and they'd opened a restaurant for 10 years.
It was growing, it was hard, man.
We just literally built it by pure hospitality.
We opened it, we lived there for a bit.
Then we got enough to live in the flat above.
Then we lived in the flat above with the same landlord.
We lived in eight years, you know, dedicated my life to this restaurant.
I dedicated, like I said to you, I didn't really take cooking seriously, but it's been in my life since school.
But you have to put the time in anything you do.
And I knew it was hard and it felt hard.
And we've talked to me and I've talked about moments in the career and what's been the hardest.
And COVID doesn't know any of us hard as it because we had a profile.
Not having a profile, opening a restaurant where you'd rely on people to come to actually pay other people as well.
Staff, the pressure of going from an edge chef to an owner felt like it'd been by a lot.
Because I realized everything was on me at the end of it.
Like now I really enjoy that, but being young and also being ambitious.
I could feel it, I was like, this is way harder than I expected.
And then the restaurant, I'd obviously sat out my, what I was going to do.
And it was, you know, it's the percentages of interest, shrinking all the time when you're talking about what I do.
It's like fancy, a prize point, only British.
You know, all of a sudden your market's so small, because you're not commercial, you are saying,
but I was like, we've got to stick with it, got to stick with it, because of this mentality I was like,
but there is a certain group of people, however small it is, that are looking for something different, right?
Yeah, there's something always out there for everything, I think.
Like people will find what they like and they'll find it, see it out.
And we did start the restaurant was getting a little busy, but it was just,
I didn't really, I was like every young chef in ours, I didn't really have an identity.
It was just nice food, it was cooked nice and it was presenting nice.
And we didn't, it didn't really have a flow, it didn't feel like anyone in particular.
And it was frustrating, I was kind of hell out of it.
I was like, I was creating, but it was done before, you know, I didn't create anything that you'd never seen.
And it was annoying. And then a big turning point for the restaurant was good food, guide noticed us.
And they're a big, so you've got Michelin and good food, guide there.
For me, they're the only ones that you worry about in the restaurant industry.
Now, I didn't know anything about these guys, because I told you my path.
And working in these sort of places, I was always focused on my job rather than anything else.
I've never been chasing accolades, because I never knew what they were.
And the good food guide noticed us. And we got invited to these awards, London, no, this was annoying for me and I'll let you learn this never happened.
And we didn't know, they'd invited us, they called us to let us know we'd won.
And the restaurant phone, but we weren't at the restaurant, we'd already left, so we didn't know.
No. But they wanted us there.
How do these awards?
Yeah, we'd won. And you knew the restaurant.
Yeah, yeah. So we got there in the, this is the first time I'm mixing with like sat-banes, like the big boys, you know, like they're all in this room and I'm there.
And I'm not sure if we're seeing something.
Yeah, we did, but we'd left, so we weren't in the restaurant, this time I come at day off on a Monday.
So in the old days, the business, we opened six days, full-on lunch and dinner to try and make you work.
Yeah. And I was getting one day off and it was just orders and I was, I was submerging this restaurant. I was like, grinding it out, hand service, honey.
And we got there and obviously went through and we'd won the, the local restaurant for the area.
I heard for that was it, for the man, he's never won that overall.
So you did manage to get to the water room?
Yeah, we didn't know that you were the one who did the water room.
No, we went, but we didn't know. We didn't know we'd won, so we surprised.
And we thought they were going to tell us so that we made sure we went. And obviously I'm on the, got called up on stage.
We've known you for that law, there's a famous chef from Cornwall and the editor, one, and like, you see the pitch, you can see that we didn't expect it.
And we won that and then that nationally people knew about us.
It was the first time and the turning point was, we were in Manurka and Halada and I was, line on Sunnager, one of the creative things happened.
And I said to Halada, the only way people are going to know about me is if I tell them what I'm going to cook them and do a set menu and show them.
That's what I'm all about and the track that's come through the food.
We worked at a price that we needed per person per seat each night and was like, that's what we're going to charge the menu up.
And then the drinks, then we should be in a broth.
And this was all in Manurka, it just sort of came to you.
And I was like, when we go back, I'm changing set menu and that's six months later is when we won that.
And I'd say that was the turning point for the business.
One for you as well, for what you've become.
Yeah, for me, I was still not at the point in my food that I wanted to be.
It was frustrating me still even I changed to this set thing and it was like, business was good, your work.
And then people started to talk about, I was getting a mission in Slah in the restaurant.
Obviously, it never ended my head ever, ever.
I never once put myself there, considered it, didn't really know much about it.
The first in-spec to the came in 2010, 2011, because they came that straight away.
He caded me at the end because they used to speak to you and I asked him if he was selling tyres.
I had no idea what it was.
Well, I think they do sell tyres as well, don't they?
Yeah, that's their main business.
This is a road map.
So Michelin is a road map that was started in early 1900s that you would drive your hand and they gave you a reason to drive.
To drive some more tyres and stuff up.
And then he said, "Oh no, no, no, no, we inspect restaurants and there's a start system."
I must have loved that.
Yeah, you love to be there.
So obviously we got to put in straight away, but that's plain.
Obviously everyone's not getting that in the way.
It's not early doors and I've got that all there.
But after this good food thing, we found this little consistency in the kitchen that we had.
Which is the key.
It's like Pete started to mature a little bit and we had a couple of young lads from college.
I've always had a girl until now, really want to get to...
If anyone's listening, I'm looking for a chef, but I really want it to be a girl.
So I love the balance in the kitchen.
I don't like it all.
It's like one way or the other.
So if anyone wants a job, please send me a message.
And if you're a girl.
What a job.
Basically, I felt this consistency in the food was sharp, but it still wasn't perfectly my own,
but we started to create some stuff that was asked.
I remember wanting to go in earlier, like I was getting a lot of gun for this really hard point
where it was really tiring and drained and I was like, always asleep on the day off.
Just completely fucked up doing 20 hours of that.
And then I just started to get this... this spark back and I was like, I want to go in early tomorrow and try this.
And I'm not saying I ever lost the spark, but sometimes you just find the next skill.
I would talk about the energy, like, and I found the ray of energy.
I was in the kitchen, I was trying loads of shit out.
We started to get our own stuff, we started to come.
And then people in the restaurant got out, you got to be an extra, and I'm like, I'd not know, consideration for it.
And in 2015, that was the year after the good food guide we got one.
But again, did that come...
Like, left field?
Yeah, I knew they were coming to visit us because each year we were in the book.
But basically the way it happened, so we went on a holiday, went on a little trip to Copenhagen because I read a lot.
I started to read that Scandinavia is on the same line as us.
Seasonal, seasonal, that's it.
So that our line through the earth is exactly the same.
They get it three months earlier, and I was obsessed with the produce.
That's really interesting.
So whatever they're doing, you do it.
It's the same produce. I was reading about Scandinavian produce.
We get that in the world, we get that.
So I was obviously asking the forages, and then I was getting all these ingredient ideas, and I was like, I want to go there.
So I went to Copenhagen, and then coming back, we were open on Tuesday.
And I was in the kitchen prepping all as well.
So in the old days, we just made a must-have HFP to out the front, holding someone else and keeping it tight.
It was hard work, but I played on one pound plate from Sparky.
Because your hairy and Birmingham's like a brickabrac show.
I used to go in there and buy plates because they're a queen, man.
I could smash one, he didn't matter.
I could still pay the staff, no way.
And one pound plate, forced that, and then get this phone call in the morning on prepping away.
I had a holly's clump, that's fine.
I had to edit out of mischilling guides on the phone and speak to you.
I was busy, I don't take calls, I choose that.
Like I said, I said to it, I started to get annoyed.
I had a full of beef, heart prepping, full lunch as well, we didn't really have full lunches.
Never crap lunch there, because half of the problem is the breaching culture of lunch.
We don't need enough lunch, because we're on the go, we're on the go, we're on the go, go to Spain, sit down, have lunch, two hours.
Don't talk to me about a hero.
I said I'm not taking, I'm busy after she went, you better take it.
She's told me the mischilling guides out tomorrow and she wants to speak to you, you better take it.
So I'm prepping this heart.
I'm not buying tires, I told you before.
Exactly, so I've got the phone, I've got it on the arm, I'm a shoulder hurt and I went, hello.
She went, her, Brad really well spoken, lovely lady, prepping the beef.
I was talking about how's Copenhagen going, how's it going to be?
I've been to Copenhagen, she and I, the inspectors have been speaking to Holly and Rachel.
This is the old days now, they do like awards and stuff now, they do like a big bash, like to show you.
This is the old days, they just use to send the PDF out on the morning, you know, you had one all night?
In a book anyway, she's wrong because she knew how I was and I've never worked in one and I'm big of a moot.
It was going to be her.
So she's talking through it, she's like, we've been back six times this year, going about the food, what I'm doing.
So I'm prepping the beef heart and the Covid in it.
And presumably you didn't know that they've been six times?
No, no, no, it's all secret.
I knew of one, I knew of one because he told me, wait, basically because it was two of us.
The inspection when he came was a Thursday night and we were packed and I used to do the pass, so I used to call on the table and the check
and then I used to do pastry as well because it's another story, I was shit a pastry.
And when I opened my restaurant I was like, what the fuck am I going to put on dessert?
So I geeked out on pastry for six odd sites, the strongest thing on the menu, not what we do.
So I didn't know how to do any of it, so I learned it, I read a barrier, I just went, everything I'm going to learn is pastry
and I'm going to get really good at it.
And then I used to prepare it and serve it in service and he came into speak to me to say, I want to speak to about the meal, it was amazing.
And I said, you're going to have to wait, I've got, okay fine, I'm only wait for 20 minutes.
So I had to run down to pastry, send them all out and I went over and I went, I'm really sorry.
And I went, no, no, I understand this too, and I was like, I'm really sorry like to make it way that long, but I've got to do service, like, there is a pain.
And he said, I'd worry it and he said, again that's the real deal that you see and that's what he's looking for.
And he said just to let you know that dessert was phenomenal, well I said, no, it's nice to hear.
And then back to the course, like, she's explaining how nice it's been and what we're doing.
And then she went, I've got something to take, can you keep a secret? And I said, depends what it is.
Because I'm not very good at keeping secrets. And then she went to tomorrow at 7am, you're going to have a missionist, that's all.
I was like, he warned me up.
And then I went for my mates names, thought it was my mate, did he?
Was my mate, winding me up, I went for all my mates names, she was like laughing, no, no, no, that's true.
She's like, I've run you to prepare you for it because it's a big moment.
And she said, it will go into press tomorrow and you'll have to book them on and off.
And I was going, I was at the phone.
And then I, Holly was like, what's going on? And I, I bet he's clean. I went, I got missionist out.
And they all scream.
Well, I'm on the phone, I can scream. And then, they were like, is that how long?
I go, absolutely, not, not, not, not, not, not, not.
But I remember the moment we've peaked, so like, peaked as worked in missionist hours, like growing up when he was younger to get experience.
And I went, he got missionist out and he went, hug me, he went, fantastic.
Straight back to it. That's what he's like.
Just like, and we're full for two years.
Well, yeah, that's the power, right?
Totally changed everything.
All of a sudden then, that award as well is, it's an Oscar, right?
It's not, there's some of my favourite restaurants haven't got stars, by the way.
It's not the, it's not the bill and then all, it's like, it's a time and a place, it's a moment thing, it's like, that's chef, they think, he's at a certain level, he said something's going to taste like it is.
And he, and he's just got natural ability and he can cook something for someone and they giving you an Oscar for it,
it's like, some of the best actors in the world have got Oscars.
Do you like them?
Sometimes you don't always get there, but...
Yeah, the timing isn't right.
But the hard bit... I don't want to dumb down the moment of you getting your mission in stock, because it's clearly like, it's the Oscar that writes the moment.
But I'm going to skip us on only because I know that wasn't the point of it, you know?
And what we were just chatting about before we started recording was, for a lot of people who are going in a particular way about things, you get one star and you're like,
what do I have to do to get two and then how do I get three? And that was never the point for you, but the hard bit is, you see the cause and the effect of that moment and it changes everything.
So again, there's going to be this pool that shows up and like, well, come on, what does it take to get two?
And I know that that's not the way you're wired. I knew it before we started talking and you've just validated it even further from the conversation.
The bit that gets really interesting for me at that point is, and I don't know where this comes in on the equation, but when you do the Donukab shot, it's like that's almost, and you even called it one star.
Was it one star, the last time?
Yeah, one star, that the way.
But that, that to me, from the outside looking in, feels like that was obviously the next thing to do.
But how does that, was it obviously like, how did that come about?
So after getting the star and the restaurants for, and it's like, you know, all of a sudden, like, that's happy days.
You know, the restaurant is the perfect version of what it's going to be.
I just like to get, like, loads more exposure, like people wanting to, I went on TV, all within like two months, like, absolutely mulled.
Like, everyone's coming up to the restaurant from all over, chefs are coming, never been before.
loads of famous people waiting at the restaurant. Yeah, like, and just me getting, like, sat-day kitchen camp,
she was married to a drummer, she was like, we'll get you on the show, like ASAP, I didn't even have to do anything.
I went down, I love me, it got me on. So it's like, I'm a real person, and I still am, you know, like, it's all, you never forget your roots, you never ever forget it.
And it's like, you know, open a restaurant in my home town, opposite the hospital I was born in.
You know, all these things, they're like, tick off dream things, but I wasn't necessarily getting a tick box list and going through it.
I was like, the work was driving me to do it.
And then, I stood in a room for four years, one place, with the leash was off, and I just got really good at it, simple as that.
I didn't leave that room, and I just got good at it. And Pete, every time I asked for something, he provided it.
I need this, I need this, you know, great front of ours, with Holly's leadership and like, her, like, I lots to be said about her, and the way she runs a restaurant,
and they, I know the gods absolutely love her because she's an actual addict, and she's a big part of it, but the chef gets all the credit obviously.
I've never thought about that before, but it's totally fair.
I'm telling you now, like, a lot of our success is down to everyone.
And then, obviously, I was enjoying this moment of like two years of all this attention to the restaurant, you know, talk about the food, understanding it.
I'd still say I wasn't 100% happy with it. Like, I was like, what could I do about that?
I can, I know, this is me at 80%, that's what I kept thinking.
And then, we're twinkling along, and I was, I didn't really think, I didn't think we were gonna be there forever, then I thought we're gonna have to move that, because we've got a suburban restaurant.
It's poppilates busy, I'm well known, and a lot of people wanna come and eat the food. The most natural thing is to scale it up.
Yeah. A movie, I mean...
You're getting a lot of people telling you to do that, and...
No, no, one was really, everybody loved the magic of the little place, and you don't wanna lose that.
When you say little place, it's time.
How many cars?
800 square foot, 25 covers.
That's hard to make money, right?
It's hard to make money, especially when you go fancy and you get more chefs and it's labour.
But, we had to start like that, especially as a target at the start, you know, if I'd have had a big place.
Obviously, I wanted a little place, because I really wanted to refine this idea in my head, with a big place, you can't expect you, you've got to be a browser real, it's got...
Everything so far has gone to plan, to what I was saying and the mentality that I've had. And then I was like, we've got to move.
So we went through the process, we started looking in 2017, this is two years after we got started.
And a place was gonna move into it, it's in the historic draw-in-bombing and I actually moved and I lived there in preparation for getting a rush on there in 2017.
So, seven years saved up to Bisonware, most of the boys' Bisonware, but this place in Birmingham moved that above the restaurant, had this beautiful moment of separating from work as well.
Because we used to like go downstairs to go and make a coffee and be in there for like eight hours, because I'd find something to do.
And I was like, I need to... I found myself getting sucked in again and it just being a bit of emotion and a bit of ambience to the wheel and I was like, "Ah, I need to... if I pull myself away."
And then obviously that works, because you got a good little home life, I built an outdoor kitchen and I'm cooking and trying new shit.
And it just started to get into the process of this place, and we booked it, found it, started working on it, done a bit of research on it.
"Pff, he was an eye-mess, an eye-waste, tiny little drains, about to have new drains, heating systems, he had a glass roof like this, like A-picks, glass in the middle of a factory beautiful space."
"Torally in practical?" "Torally in practical, like without a massive investment, like money, we were like, fuck, so we pulled it, it's like work, spent money."
"Did you pull it quick enough?" "Yeah, quick enough, but we'd started working, it was hard to recover, money was."
So, felt like I could add this bit of a like snap cord and it was like, "Ah, shit, hard again now."
And then obviously the bubble of the restaurant starts to, and then because we've done what we've done, more people are opening up, getting more competitive and they're going to the new place.
But that's good, you know, I encourage them to do their thing, that's amazing, that's what I love.
And then COVID, so we got COVID now.
And to be honest with you, like I said, I mentioned it earlier, like the hardest time for us doing this business was opening it with no profile. COVID was not as hard, obviously it was support.
But it was an explosion of creativity for me, I literally didn't stop creating.
"Because you just had so much time and nothing?" "I had enough time, I've never had."
I still kept a structure to my weeks, I went to work every day, I started with boxes.
I was so you did delivery and you did everything?
I literally said, "Diverse job, you can turn your hands to anything, it's creative job."
So I was on Saturday, I actually, in February, before COVID, London was empty, it took me like 25 minutes to get in, all the time in the hour.
And I said, "What's your hands, then?" I was like, "What the fuck's going on?" I was like, "Oh, this is really early, this is before like 2-3 weeks ahead of that way."
"When did it look like that?" "March."
So it's all happening there and everyone's, "Oh, we're going to lose our jobs, it was negative, and I was going on telling, I was like, "This is shit, man."
And I came back and I said to them, "Don't you have a good time?"
I said, "I said, "Looks like life's going to change, Reverend, we need to be ready." I was like, "So, I built an online shop before anything."
Yeah, before it even happened, I come back and I said, "I went to dinner, I got invited, so we're going to do dinner, I'm a street faced in Birmingham."
I got invited, then I went before, when there was no one in there. And I was like, "Well, fuck's, it's the end of the world."
So I went back and I said, "We're going to have to sell everything, kind of shop, why, and everything, so we'll be able to do an online shop in a week."
And then locked down in the weekend after, so I was ready to go.
So we had this online shop, and I was like, "We'll do boxes."
So I dreamt this thing up, like, my book would come out by then, and loads of people had got it.
So, we did a cook to me, or from the book, the staff dinner on top, and then a raw one from the restaurant ingredients to cook on the bottom.
And they were premium price.
What kind of money were you spending?
A hundred and twenty, yeah.
And people were like, "We couldn't do enough of them."
Yeah, that is so good.
The first e-mail, it's a lot down on the Friday, we closed, we sold a fresh buffet in the restaurant, saturday as a market for the locals.
Monday, I launched the shop.
So, we're the first to the day.
The only is, that's a bit of business model, then the existing business model as well, isn't it?
First to the day, so, they're not 150 grand, none boxes.
And then, you're not three, four months.
Yeah, smart, smart.
So, but, I'm making it sound better than it was.
For me, I did not enjoy it.
Yeah, I get it, that's not what you saw before me.
He's a factory.
Yeah, yeah.
He's working in the system, in a factory, he was like, "Me and my chef were getting it done."
I'll never get that time back of that packing in my life.
So, I mean, I've done enough that packing forever.
It was love for people who were going mad, but I weren't getting reaction, I wasn't looking at people's faces.
I mean, we talked about this a lot, you know, the podcast we had to start doing it over Zoom.
And we've gone back to doing it face to face, and it's better.
Yeah, we've just, you can't be in the same form.
It's better for you to be in the same form.
Yeah, you get everything is through people, energy sources, bad stuff, it's like...
And I was like, "Oh, it's killing me, I hate it, I love it, I love the fat people who are enjoying them."
And send us photos of them cooking the turb, I hate it.
And then it was...
We were gearing to open up September, October, September, 2020.
And I had this mad creative spout, so we're doing the boxes, but obviously I was getting more time up.
So I was like, "I think you're not having enough reopen."
So we did loads, we changed, the restaurant went black, a painting, black, because we used to be white, painted black, not the kitchen wall out, put chest-hubberling.
Doing all this stuff, I'm going to do this.
And then I came up with this idea, so my friend Dan, he's an amazing artist, actually, F***a Wolf, going to follow it.
It's amazing, very political.
What's he called? F***a Wolf. F***a Wolf. F***a Wolf.
He does, he's like very topical, political, he's a lot of hatred towards certain parties.
And I've known him for years, just to go join him.
They're not really parties, are they?
Yeah, he's a good job.
Basically, with him and stuff.
And I just had this idea, I was like, we both kept sending each of these pictures.
The smiley face became my signature, because of the raving.
That smiley, that's my actual brand name.
So that one's been created, that's made of seas, for my second name.
So the whole thing's made of seas, but that came late, I liked it last year, the 2021 Seaforca, for people.
But basically, the smiley became a thing, so I did a guess check.
We'd always started using it, not stamping the menus.
I liked the fact we were playing with this alternate world that I've come from,
and like this kind of synthetic, naughty, rave culture in this really polished, high-end environment.
And I was like, what I'm doing now, it's like mixing with people, like, I never would have mixed with, I didn't cook.
Do you know what I mean? Like, I wouldn't, I wouldn't meet these people, if you weren't for food.
And I just loved splicing these, because the naughty and the high-end always works really well together,
like champagne and hot dogs.
The chef did that in London, and he got chicken and fried chicken and caviar.
All these things that go really well together.
And the smiley was creeping in, and a friend of mine, Calum, he used to like the old assilized days.
He was amazing chef, like, pastry chef.
And he made this patty on crew, because he's the famous patty on crew guy, who made his name making all these on Instagram as well.
And he made a patty on crew with a smiley face in the middle, for the event as a bit of video circulating,
and he was showing me, so he didn't tell me, was a surprise.
And we'd done a collab at the restaurant in 2019, and he cut this pie and turned it towards me, he's got a smiley face,
and I lost him, absolutely, loved it.
And then that was the moment where it became a signature, like everyone was sending a me tagging me,
showing me things, and then it was like, it's a signature thing, it's like, associated.
Obviously they come from Danny Rampling's night's room, when they came back from my beef,
and they launched it in London, the smiley face was born there, so it's like a moment like that from there.
And we basically started using the smiley face. I can't actually remember why I started telling you that being that.
It was something about the lockdown on the boxes.
That was it. And we started, we had them painted in the kitchen, and she painted all of them.
Okay, so you were in Australia?
We were like, let's just, the restaurant hadn't got the personality, like I wanted it to have,
like it hadn't got me, I hadn't been at Bullsy enough with him.
I was trying to play the game a bit, and so much, so let's just do it.
And then, Dan, I spoke to him, and I was like, I've had an idea for a clock in the morning, an idea.
I went, there's no parties on, because it's locked down.
No one's doing anything. Let's create a flyer, an old 92 flyer.
But it's my, what the idea was.
It was called Mouth Dance, and it was my reopening. But all the DJs and MCs on the line up were ingredients
that we were going to use when we came back. And then he was like, this is amazing idea.
So we basically got this yellow flyer. I sent him loads of ingredients, and he ripped it up.
And he ripped like DJ Pollock back to back with Gilhead Brein, and all this, like we did this amazing, creating.
Just like a 92 flyer, for everyone to use to collect. And then I said to him, let's get him printed,
and let's go slap him up everywhere, around Birmingham.
So we got him all printed, got the, went a bit, a pound, and got the pay, all pay per paste.
It was incidentally, I had a night out, I'd been off all night, until an illegal place, I shouldn't have gone.
And he was really fitting the meeting, and I was like, the morning, all right, the meeting with the restaurant,
and he's like, wow, she's on brand and this is, got them, started going around Birmingham.
Everybody was running up to us going, where's the part, yeah, man, because there's no parties,
and I was like, they're going to stay up, because no one's going to go over them.
So we went everywhere, went to Digbuff, which is like the warehouse, the area, I put it over the top of the food flyers.
And anyway, like, it blew up this creative thing that we've done, and like for me, it was one of my priorities, little creative moments, is the ray thing.
And it was like the statement that we were coming back with this new personality as well, and everything was the ray, was the opening date,
when the restaurant reopened, I was getting people like, message him, he's saying, I'll, when's the ray, I want to come to it,
and it thought it was partly, and I kept having to, and then I had to go press and say, it's my opening, no one read through the lines, it was two clever.
So they just saw it, imagined what it was, for the reason they recognised it.
Yeah, it was really good.
In 2020, and then Red Bull sent me loads of drinks.
I got to the front door of the restaurant, he was piled up outside, and there were like, fuel for my own dance.
And I was like, I should do a festival, and then we get looked after, and we did it and opened, and it's just because I had it framed, I've still got it to put up,
because it means so much for coming back after Covid, that's another new identity, but obviously it only lasted two months, and then they shut us down again,
because obviously they got it all wrong, and then a lockdown came, that was mood, you were, and it was, that weather weren't there.
And I was like, sat down with this team, and I was like, not doing boxes, I'd rather just do create stuff, I'm not doing it.
And then I went, but I have had an idea, which was one start, that about.
So that's where it came from.
Yeah, so I was like, I want to do a Kibab every week, to keep the supplier ticking over, because you're 12, 20 kilos of meat,
and you started doing it out of the restaurant originally. That is a take-out, so. I didn't know that.
And the one star is like, we've got the one star.
So it was the hashtag we used to use, hashtag one star, then I know.
And that's where they're now in K-A from.
So we like, one of my fund is food memories, we was a Kibab I had in Berlin, when I used to go to Watergate to work,
and he's under street, Jemise Kibab, my staff was really famous, Turkey settlement there was massive, some of the most authentic foods there.
And I had this Kibab, I was queued up minus 10, fuck freezing, got this Kibab like, beat it, and he's like, one of my fund is food moments of my whole life
that I've always remembered being so perfect, so good, I'd never had anything like it.
I want to get even just close to recreating that, but obviously they're going to be unique, so I'd add this fetish in my head to put more to Dela on a spit.
Oh yeah, I can tell you, yeah, yeah, I love it.
Because he's like, 'Danna?'
So I was like, we're going to do more to Dela, more to Dela, so I've trained more than I know.
You are a marketing genius.
I was like, we're going to do more to Dela on a spit.
This is my brain, I was working in London, Covid as well.
We were like, 'Okay, let's do it.'
So we built this, one of my friend Hannah's in Illustrator, she's amazing as well, Hannah.
She's done all the posters and everything, so she basically got this loonichoon to post that, and turned it into me,
like all the loonichoon characters, we'd like ease for eyes, on the tongue, like, this crazy, like,
like, rave scene, inspired brand that's German, 'Danna,' which is where I spent a bit of time, which is German tech, no.
It's all very linked to raves, but this food memory, I've like, and we were going to use the same ingredients we used in the machines,
like a restaurant, but make us accessible, it's a £10, instead of £100.
That was the thought process, because one thing I will say, I was, I love food,
and I think everybody should be able to go and eat it and afford it, and I find myself becoming a bit too exclusive.
Yeah, I get that as well.
And like, although I love my restaurant, what it stands for, and it just stands for the good products cost money,
and that's what we serve, we don't make a lot of money out of our restaurant, be honest,
but good products cost money, and then we employ an amazing team to produce it.
And I just felt like I was going away from my roots again too much, and I was like,
'Can't interact with something?' So the cababs was an accessible version of me.
All of my mates were like, 'This is genius'.
So we released it, and we sold 410 minutes, and I never tried it, and I was like, 'Holy f**k, you sh*t'.
'Well, how are we going to do this?'
And we released it the week before, so we opened on the Friday, so my pal, Lave,
and who's another guy who's got an amazing taco business called Tacos Al Pap,
and he built a Taco Van in 2020 during lockdown.
He worked, fast and hard in, he used to develop the, he built the engine Valchero,
and he's on the credits, topped out, peaked, next step, step one.
He didn't want to do it, he's always loved cookie, he's like, 'That's what I've done,
it's easy, I'll have it'. But a step van, imported it, built it all by a step van,
like a little tiny little Taco Van.
Yeah, okay, alright.
From 70s, hand-built, it looks like a beautiful piece of Mexico,
and he had this cabab spit on it for his past north, so I called him,
and I went, 'Using a cabab machine at the moment, he's a van don, he went, 'No, I won't be doing it,
'I'm going to borrow it for this thing I'm going to do', and he was like, 'Yeah'.
So I was stuck in the kitchen on a gas bottle, hardly illegal,
put this, put this cabab in the restaurant, turned the lights off, put the jungle on,
'Take away, built this take away', and 400 covers, and we'd done this mortar dela,
but it was inspired by pizza, because I love Italian food.
So it was a peed that we made, so like a Turkish peed, a shade mortar dela,
peed to a margarita sauce with chili, a ketchup, pepe, cheese sauce,
and then like a salad, and I did it, and we tried it, and I was like, 'This is unbelievable',
and we got all these people coming, so, and I went to the team, 'Oh, it's great, kept us,
'they wanted to keep stay together, because it's been at home as hard,
'so we did two days a week for six months, making cababs'.
Yeah, you became a cabab in the restaurant, this is the best.
So from November till April, and I got local creative mates, I've got restaurants to collab,
so we had the burger boys coming, we had the chicken boys coming in,
and I did anoumi every week to keep the suppliers taking over, big, big orders,
and it just flew, it absolutely flew, and you kept it, so then you established it,
'Oh, the lockdown is at right'.
And then after lockdown, we'll like banked it for a little bit,
and then got the opportunity to open it full time in Manchester next door to warehouse projects,
because it's very much linked to the music, and that's still there, so that's,
no, no, it's not there.
Can you bring it down to Brighton?
Yeah, well, Brighton's a high up on the list of all the shops.
We'll sort you out.
So we're gonna open a few round the country, hopefully, but Brighton's high up on the list.
But this came from like a really, it's a love story from lockdown,
a really depressive time for not people, like, hard,
and we just created this restaurant that was accessible for everyone,
that was like, had a load of fun, and also like, it was gloves off creative,
like, because it allowed me, the certain elements of the old race,
like, are bringing into the restaurant, but this is full blown, like, part of,
party food, with nods tradition, like, we respect it,
but it's completely not traditional, it's our own,
and it allowed us to, like, link to, it's just an amazing creative moment of the restaurant, Heshira.
So, I can tell again, crap based on the way you're talking,
that, you know, the moments are the non-obvious moments, like, the big, bad thing hitting.
And, you mentioned another one earlier, I forget what it was,
but it was like, it was sort of hidden in the details, like, that's the moment,
that's when it mattered.
It feels like you're at a point now where, the world's your oyster again.
Obviously, it's going to be different seeing it, am I seeing it from seeing your seat?
You might not feel that, but, but, outside, looking in, it looks like the world's your oyster.
And, that's hard again, isn't it?
Because, like, the pressure's on to figure out, like, what...
And, I feel like, this, this space is a manifestation of the, the other again.
So, I feel like you've pulled it out of the bag again on that one.
But, does, again, we joke, tell you, or not, it's not really a joke,
but, about, the, the stress that comes with the success.
And, it's like, it can kill people, it's like, Rook, it gets really quite serious.
So, next, like, what I'm interested in is, how you thinking about that now?
How you, how you thinking about embodying all the stuff you've learned,
and kind of, like, how you bottle that up and what you do, what you do with it?
I think, like, the point of my career now is, like, I'm very sure about what I do.
And, I've got to a point that I told you I longed for, where,
you look at a set of add dishes on the internet now,
and say, "It's bad cars for you, that's...
It's got a density."
And, this took me a long time to get there.
And, that was the goal, that was the dream, you know, like,
I want a restaurant that's completely unique and identifiable to me.
Food-wise, service-wise, music-wise, everything's got to be...
You've got to do what you believe, and we've got there.
And, when we, when we shut the restaurant at Carters,
it, everybody, for will mad,
because it was fine to lay.
I did it, but from my point of view, it's job done.
The art space is complete.
Shut it, leave it at a peak, leave it at a perfect memory,
like I achieved, like I said, about Ramza,
everything I wanted to achieve in that little room, I've done it.
So, I have to do something now.
Next game.
Next game.
So, this, where we are now, is part of that project and that plan.
And, bolstering our brand and what we stand for, and what we believe,
being at this farm, with this supplier.
I wouldn't be able to do those dishes that I've got now as my own
and my identity without these.
So, this is my love, Larry, and I, to them, being here,
ensuring how amazing the project is, and how important it is
to be that close, and how the difference in taste is.
And, now people are getting to experience it.
And, again, we've provided for the people, but there's always a bit of selfishness in me
that it's got to be in keeping with where I want to be and what I want to do.
Like, it's a creative thing, and a lot of people wouldn't have gone through it,
because it's too much of an NA.
I've got an amazing support, if the team does well, don't forget to set down with them first,
and said, "I've got this idea, it's only going to work if you want it to work."
Because, if you don't want to travel down here to do it,
and they'll like, "Fuck, you're amazing, I do have a lot of work to do."
Do you know what I mean?
It's a lifestyle choice, what we do, you invest in the brand,
and it's giving them experience, something different, isn't it?
Exactly. Sometimes I stand back, I look at them,
and it comes over me quite a lot, and I'm like,
"How, why do these guys love these brands?"
So, it's like, "You're what we do."
Because there's not many people, that's what we do this podcast,
there's not many people that are prepared to dream something,
that's actually going to do it. It's just rare.
And keep changing it.
Yeah, that's true.
And keep changing it.
And keep changing it.
Yeah, they don't think that this is, in fact, the game thing is like,
"I'm winning this game, I'm winning this game, I'm winning this game,
because I'm winning, I'm winning, I'm winning."
"Oh, Pollocks, I'm bored, oh, my ego's so wrapped up in it,
and to be able to dismantle it and start again is..."
It's where the magic happens.
It is where the magic happens.
That's the obviously what we're promoted to do.
I don't use this word very often, but it's the only word I can think of in the,
it's like, summarise the conversation, how do I do it?
But it's beautiful.
I really do feel that, like, and that's like the beauty that you'll bring into the world
and the people around you is, that's the right,
that's the best word I've got for it.
And I really credit you for it, Brad, honestly, is like...
I appreciate it.
It's an incredible story.
I do look at them and I think, "Why do they love what, what, what, what do they?"
I can't believe I've got this, this like, arm-in-energy of people that are like
supporting this creation that we've done, it's like,
that's an amazing feeling.
But I think when you do something different, you know,
the chemicals that I can't remember which one is...
I've used all of them.
No more serotonin.
After I beat them.
But when we do something different, that's what happens.
We get that kick, we get that kick,
and you seem to be providing with them with opportunities to experience
something different on a pretty regular basis.
And that's what keeps us alive.
If we keep doing the same thing again and again and again,
it's important to have routines in our life.
It really is important to have routines.
But if we swing too much towards the routines,
we end up in a rut and that ain't good.
What we were talking about earlier about like trying to find like
the other left guy that we listened to is amazing.
Find a life that suits you not trying to suit the life.
You know what I mean?
Exactly right, yeah.
I cannot sleep before 3am.
It's impossible.
Yeah, so the obvious thing to do is like,
design a life where you go to sleep at 3am,
fight it and keep stressing yourself.
Exactly. Why try and go to bed at 12?
Because my Apple Watch tells me to.
It's like, I'm not going to do that.
Like I'm going to do what, where are I,
X-allies running to that calendar, what I'm meant to be doing?
I do agree with you how heartily, but there is sometimes a balance.
And if you think you're always going to be that way and you stick to it,
even when your bedtime make change to 2 o'clock and then 1 o'clock as you get older.
If you think that is the way you're set forever,
then maybe you're missing an opportunity.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, true.
Brad, it's been just like beyond the pleasure.
And I know that.
It's really young, I'm really young.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You might just feel really hungry.
Yeah, I'm really, I'm really, really, I'm--
Yeah, it's provided with really, yeah,
it's a bit of a whole stat, right?
I've got a restaurant in Bryan.
And what, so people can read the book?
Yeah, so the book actually sold--
Where are two people going to find out more?
The book sold out very quickly, but we didn't actually go into that,
but it was a moment in a round after the mission in style,
everything like that.
We created this book because I got approached by a publisher.
He said, "I want to do your food, I love your food."
And I was like, "Well, I'm never going to do a cookbook of the food
because it evolves every month, every week.
It will be old when it comes out.
I'm not going to do it."
And he was like, "What?"
He was like, "It's a good way to make a few quid."
And I was like, "It's not man, it's not man, it's not man, it's not man."
And I said, "I will hate that book because it will feel old to me when it comes out."
I can't do it.
And I said, "But I'll tell you what we will do, we'll do the staff dinner."
Because every day we have an amazing staff dinner.
So I believe whatever they should eat, what the customers eat,
in a family style, and then it will just be the scraps.
Yeah, I've grown, the kitchens I've mentioned I've grown up is bowl of rice
with some different onions.
And I was like, "No, they will eat, we buy an old animal, they'll eat the shoulders
and they'll eat the loins."
And they get to taste and get the flavour profiles of the things we're using.
But they also get an opportunity to cook for their crew as a responsibility,
cooking for your family and your team.
No idea why they're like working for you.
So this book is about the culture of the restaurant, a little bit about myself.
And the recipes from staff dinner, because we started documenting our Instagram stories to...
And Carter's got the history.
Yeah, to fill the stories with new content every day and it blew up.
We have five thousand people a day watching it.
It's the biggest thing.
I've had a new market through people that wouldn't necessarily be interested in the food.
They watch the staff dinner.
I've had a young lad come up to me and they're doing,
"Are you that chef from that restaurant?"
"The restaurant, the restaurant, I went, you went so nice to me."
"I'd never come to your restaurant, I'd ask by that owl, but your staff dinner is amazing."
And I was like, "This is a meaningful thing."
So the book is about my people, my suppliers, to create what we create in a restaurant,
the staff dinner recipes that are so famous on Instagram and with the customers
and we put all the comments on Instagram in the back.
And a little bit about why I do the restaurant the way I do it.
But it was so popular, sold out, you can do another run.
Well, in my creative COVID moment, I was like, "I want to do one of my favourite original Ray Valbums
is the Project Experience."
And then they bought our expanded with a few new, so I bought the book out like the expanded version
in COVID with 16 new pages.
It was why, and I did it black, spray it a smiley face on it.
And then did 16 new pages, eight new recipes, and a little bit new information.
And I created a Drew, with Hannah, a Drew, the structure, chemical structure of MDMA
and what it means to me and then what it's made me create.
And it's another piece of art that I'm really proud of.
And that's in the book.
And I wanted to get, because it was in COVID and it was like, "I wanted to release her atoning."
That was the whole point.
And I piggybacked on a famous chef's book because it was already going to keep the customers down.
So I did this little tiny limited edition run and they went on that.
And I haven't even got on myself.
I've had lots of ball, lots of ones before.
And the book, it will never, like people see, keeps signing, you're going to re-run it.
It's done. It's a project.
Again, not the restaurant, it's a beautiful memory, creative moment.
That's going to be there forever and I like to leave things at their peak.
You know, I like it.
Leave them at 3am on the dance floor at the end and they're really not really like that.
Leave it there.
I'd have ever liked to run anything down or...
So what's the Instagram handle for that account?
So it's actually the old name, because we're going to be changing our cards of Mosla.
That's the restaurant where we are now.
And then obviously we're relocating to the city where we move back next year.
But people will find that off if they go and follow you on Instagram.
That's the best place, isn't it?
Yeah, exactly.
And then obviously got my own as well, Chef Bakar, where I document sort of...
It's all the work and cooking and the food, but I document a bit of my music and stuff into it.
So that's more you and the rest of the things.
Yeah, exactly.
And I think like, they are in time, but they are, again, like, I see them as creative.
Spaces again, not to show off what we do.
Like the aesthetic of it and everything.
Like it, for me, is important.
The first thing you look at is that, you need to get us, try out what that's important.
Thank you, bro.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.
For listening to my content.
I cannot wait to experience some food from yours.
At some point.
I'm going to get a test for you.
Me too.
That's it folks.
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Creators and Guests

Neil Witten
Neil Witten
Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, Podcaster @lifedonediff, Co-Founded @StoryStreamAI now building & You only get 1 go, live consciously 🏂
Ray Richards
Ray Richards
Converting small steps into the unknown, into the known
Brad Carter
Brad Carter
Chef Director @cartersmoseley Author Raver
Home of the podcast. Inspiring interviews with people who go against the grain & live their lives differently. @nwitten & @rayrich
Brad Carter - Raver and Michelin Starred Chef. Teach Yourself.
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