Two blogs have been really catching my attention recently - Stonch's homebrewing adventures over at Stonch's Beerblog - and the ongoing birth of Yorkshire Deli in Ilkley. Ian Taylor is starting out on that road that many of us desk-bound foodwriters daydream of - taking the plunge and opening a business of our own.
Remarkably, Ian has managed to find time to answer a few questions for The Good Stuff.
The Good Stuff: Yorkshire Deli has obviously been on the horizon for some time – do you recall the exact moment when it turned from a dream into a living venture?
Ian Taylor We (my wife and I) had been looking for a business to buy for some time so that I could escape my previous employment which had become a nightmare. I guess the moment that Yorkshire Deli the concept was born was about a year ago when we went to look at a local deli which was for sale. While we waited for the accounts to come through after the viewing we created the Yorkshire theme in our minds, given the growing demand for local produce it just made sense.
Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately! - that business was not making any money so we dropped it, but realising how disappointed we were to have to do so, the Yorkshire Deli idea became the dream and we then sought a suitable business to adapt it to. I guess the point that that became a living venture was last November when we viewed and had an offer accepted on the tea-room business we eventually bought to turn into the Yorkshire Deli Cafe.
How did ‘giving up the day job’ feel at the time?
Wonderful. I had been effectively in the same job for 17 years and a series of mergers had meant that I went from being a number two in an organisation to a virtual nobody, with complete idiots being parachuted in over my head just because they were in the correct, tiny, extreme political faction with absolutely no grip on reality. When this happened again a couple of years ago to the point that I was constantly having to train and cover up for the mistakes and inadequacies of the imbecile who was supposed to be my boss, I vowed to get out, and to finally achieve that was an immense relief.
I should say that there were a few people who I was sad to leave behind and that I hope I'll keep in touch with, but not many, and they know who they are.
Now that you’re up and running, what are you enjoying the most about being the owner of a deli?
It's immensely satisfying when you are complemented over something you have created yourself - the homemade cakes, scones and daily lunch dishes that I cook all seem to go down very well. I also love being an insider in the catering world, learning constantly from other producers and business-people, and I had better say that I enjoy being part of a team with our excellent staff who are great fun to be around!
If we had £5 to spend in Yorkshire Deli, what would you recommend we spend it on?
If you were there for lunch, I would say spend an extra 75p and go for my dish of the day, which this week could have been a Lamb, Orange and Fennel Spring Stew, or Chicken with Tarragon and Spring Vegetables, for example, served in a giant Yorkshire Pudding.
If you are there for a snack, for just £2.95 you can get one of our Yorkshire Cream Teas - a pot of Yorkshire Tea, homemade scone, Organic Yorkshire Clotted Cream and local farm produced pure fruit jam and butter - we deliberately kept the price low to try - a little cheekily - to compete with a rather more famous tea shop nearby! You'd need more than your fiver for a cream tea there!
Or if you are in our retail area - a bottle of Wharfe Valley Rapeseed Oil perhaps, or some Angel Chocolate - handmade in Swaledale, or a couple of bottles of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin Ale (we have just got our alcohol licence by the way!).
5. What’s in the pipeline for the upcoming year at Yorkshire Deli?
More and more home made food, and more local produce on the menu and for retail sale. Later in the year there'll be wine tastings and other themed events.
We may also expand the cafe seating area into our mezzanine floor, and we also open our online shop on our website http://www.yorkshiredeli.co.uk/ very soon.
Who are your ‘Food Heroes’?
Keith Floyd, Anthony Bourdain, Rick Stein and Gordon Ramsay are my favourite chefs, and I have a soft spot for Nigella too! But the true and in many cases unsung heroes are the armies of local producers out there who devote themselves to quality food and drink, and who I want to help support through my endeavours.
...And you personal favourite places to eat and drink?
Locally, the Angel at Hetton takes some beating, along with The Far Syde in Ilkley. Our regular haunt is The Fleece in Addingham, which as well as being one of our local pubs, serves top quality food with a menu to cater for all appetites and budgets.
If I could do it all again, the only thing I would do differently is….
Do it sooner!