By Jake Readman
Richard Paikin and Danny Tullet are two Brighton based chefs who want to revolutionise the way we think about cooking. They both cook for private catering events, but are preparing to take their profession to a new level.
So often do we dine out with no thought as to what actually goes into the dish, so long as it tantalises our taste buds. I mean, that’s the main point, right? Wrong! Until fairly recently this may have been the case; however, we are now at a time where we’re being educated about the importance of good grub. While this is definitely a good thing, and something people should feel strongly about, there are many who take calorie counting so far it borders on obsessive compulsive. Despite this, they seem unaware of the additional, unhealthy additives in their beloved processed, low-fat food, which are just as detrimental to health as those oh-so-deadly calories.
Many companies have since jumped on this fashionable bandwagon of healthy eating, providing customers with ‘lighter’ options. Two years ago PizzaExpress launched their ‘Leggera’ range; Subway sandwich shops continue to pop up in every city; and the ever health-conscious McDonalds have even chipped in, with their ‘slimming’ McSalads. In reality this is just a publicity stunt, in a desperate attempt to cling on to the E number-guzzling-turned-wannabe-health-freaks. In fact, a McDonalds’ salad has been found to contain more calories and fat than one of their burgers; and although a subway sandwich may lose the lard, the salt content in its ‘freshly’ processed ingredients far surpasses that of their greasy neighbours. Lighter options indeed…..
Richard and Danny are two local Chefs aiming to break this trend. Their new business, TRUE TO TASTE, aims to combine a private catering company with cookery classes, emphasising the importance of using nutritional ingredients. Both have worked within the catering industry since their early teens, so it’s safe to say they know their way around a kitchen. Danny, 28, currently runs the kitchen for fine dining events at The University of Sussex, while 27-year-old Richard is the team chef for Brighton and Hove Albion F.C.
Their background of working with students and professional footballers has shown the ambitious pair that there is potential for a huge range of clientele for their business. Richard revealed: “We initially want to work closely with the footballers and students. Obviously the footballers will provide the larger base for us actually doing the catering, but we aim to educate both groups through classes, and anyone else for that matter, about the importance of eating healthy food, whilst keeping it tasty!”
It is likely that footballers and students are similar, in that cooking a meal is not top on their list of priorities. In fact this could be said for a lot of people in our society as we see ever increasing cases of obesity and poor health. And while studies have shown that a healthy diet plays a huge part on behaviour, fitness, and thought process, not enough has been done to address this. Granted, we’ve seen Jamie Oliver attempt to reform school canteens around the country, not without a few tears, and the aforementioned ‘lighter meals’ in restaurants; but what about directly educating one-on-one? This is where TRUE TO TASTE hopes to be a cut above the rest.
Richard said: “By not only teaching people to cook, but alerting them to the importance of what should actually be going into their bodies, people can actually learn for themselves what it is to be healthy. Rather than providing them with what they want, we can show them what they need. We can provide an analysis of their current diet and lifestyle and show them what’s missing.”
The business will start largely with the private catering events, with Brighton and Hove’s newest signing Vicente, and defender Tommy Elphick already satisfied customers. Both players have held get-togethers at their homes, where Danny and Richard provided mouth-watering, yet nutritious dishes.
“I reckon they liked my seared scallops on top of crisped Iberico chorizo placed on a pea puree, with a garnish of garlic, short stemmed chives and a drizzle of chorizo oil,” chuckled Danny as he quoted his menu. From this, the duo is aiming to expand.
“We’ve already done two events,” explained Danny, “and plenty more of the lads at Brighton and Hove have shown a lot of interest.” Richard added: “At the academy, for example, there are five guys living in one house, most of them don’t know how to boil an egg. If we can provide a service for them, not only by cooking them meals, but by teaching them to cook too, then we’ve achieved what we’ve set out to do – I mean, these guys might only play until they’re 35, but they’ll need to cook until they’re what, 80?”
Sourcing products locally is also a major focus for the double act, with at least 85% of their ingredients supplied from within 30 miles of Brighton. To top this, all the meat used in the dishes will come from the butcher, Principal Meats, less than half a mile from their main kitchen. Richard has also claimed that they really want to place an emphasis on sustainability: “A lot of restaurants and other businesses are doing this these days, and we also feel that it’s really important. We obviously do the usual stuff like recycling, and sourcing as much produce as possible from local suppliers, but we even compost any waste to use for growing herbs out the back.”
When asked about how they’d thought of the concept for TRUE TO TASTE, Richard explained: “When cooking for the team I’ve always tried to think about what’s good for them. For example, I noticed that one of the lads came to pre-season carrying a bit more weight so I cut down his carbs.” He added: “[Iñigo] Calderón always asks what’s in the meals too, coming from Spain he’s very much into his food, and obviously likes to make sure he’s eating good stuff! These kinds of things, plus what Danny sees being dished out to students made us think ‘there’s a gap here, and no one else seems to be doing it’.”
With the company in its early stages, the aim of the game for Richard and Danny is getting their fingers in as many pies as possible. They have already laid the foundations with potential customers at Brighton and Hove FC and will soon advertise to undergraduate and postgraduate students around Brighton. They plan to set up a range of cooking classes, spanning from budget meals to luxury dining, with a common factor – healthy, but tasty, eating. And they don’t plan to stop at Brighton. Richard revealed: “If this thing kicks off, we want to go for it big-time. I want to build an empire!”