Old school v New school

Old school v New school

I have intentionally ignored all modern cooking techniques over the last 5 years and gone back to basics. Some of the modern techniques are over used and you can’t beat good old-fashioned simplicity.

 

This approach has served me well but recently I have had more and more private events being booked and so I am going to re-introduce some of the newer techniques I have learnt over the years along side the more traditional methods.

 

These newer techniques will help to enhance the experience for our guests so whilst keeping my feet firmly grounded in the classic cooking style, I can’t ignore the potential of some relatively simple bits of kit.

 

The first new dish will be a delicious light celeriac mousse using this ISI espuma gun.

 

While foams get a lot of negative press, the theory behind foam allowing the flavour to hit all taste receptors in the mouth at the same time is a great technique to fully exploit the flavours of a dish so I will be using the bamix to add some highly flavoured garnishes too.

 

To make sure I keep the balance of old and new, I am also going to add some home made pasta to our menus too.

 

Lots of exciting things on the way so keep an eye on my social media.

 

Click here to book one of our Supper Clubs

Supper Clubs

Supper Clubs

I ran my first Supper Club in January 2018.

I started with six people in Sulston’s Kitchen and they were mainly friends and family. This slowly grew to eight people and then to ten. Eventually, we had to put on two nights per month and soon people were booking a month in advance. December 2018 we struggled to fill one night but by December 2019 we had a Supper Club every Friday and Saturday through the month in the lead up to Christmas.

Over this time I have teamed up with The Old Fire Station to cook one of the first Secret Supper Clubs in Tonbridge at Haywards Farm Shop cooking with all their amazing produce. It was a chef’s dream. This was followed with a Secret Supper Club at Neptune in Tonbridge, cooking on the Range Master in their showroom and serving from what would normally be their central till area. The guests were seated around the cooking area on Neptune’s beautiful dining room furniture; this was a really special night.

The whole idea of the supper clubs was to bring people together through the love of food, likeminded people that may have just moved to the town or those who wanted to be social and get to know new people. Everyone sat around one large table and one of the courses was always a sharing course, this helped create conversation and interaction. The open kitchen in close proximity to the guests was perfect as it gave me the ability to interact with the guests helped to add to their experience. It was the perfect way to describe the dishes, answer questions about the food, talk about the local suppliers and the amazing produce as well as general chat about new businesses in the town, up and coming festivals and events and so much more.

It was always BYO, which I feel, made the evening a lot more relaxed and also less expensive and this is partly what helped create the relaxed environment.

In these challenging times, much of what made the supper clubs so successful is still possible except now I run them in the comfort of your own home.

We will have monthly menus of 4, 6 and 10 courses for you to choose from for 6 – 8 guests (currently only 6 in line with government guidelines).

We are currently booked up every Saturday in October but free all other evenings so for more info and to book just head over to our online shop.

This is one part of the next chapter and I look forward to cooking for you and your guests.

 

 

Photo taken by Severien Vits at one of our Supper Clubs.

This is possibly one of my favourite ever photos and really captures the essence of what the supper clubs are all about.

Drinking

Drinking

You don’t need alcohol to have fun…… really!

Like most people in the UK, I have been drinking since my early teenage years whether in Europe on school trips, raiding spirit cupboards and making some serious cocktails that Dale DeGroff would have been proud of, hanging around a shop until someone would buy us a case of stella. The list goes on.

I talk openly about this with numerous friends and the social culture in this country that revolves around the pub and drinking.

To be honest I like the feeling of being drunk, on numerous levels, I like that first pint in the sun. I like the first pint after a long day at work. I like the pint in the airport at 5am. I like the glass of wine with a nice meal; the champagne to celebrate an achievement, the glass of whiskey with a friend, the mojitos on holiday in the pool. You get the picture.

So after an extremely heavy 2019/20, on Monday 3rd August I decided to take a break from alcohol. I’ve done it before and managed a year around 2013. Presumably not by chance, this was when I was training at my peak and competing at high-level jiu jitsu competitions. At the time I also ranked in the top 20 for my age bracket in sprint distance triathlons and I was completing a Foundation Degree in Culinary Arts. All whilst I was working full time as Executive Chef.

In theory, to break most habits you disconnect with people you associate with the thing you want to stop. But it seems everyone drinks alcohol so unless I want to stay in on my own this isn’t going to work. It’s hard though and I get tired of explaining why I’m not drinking. Especially when the person asking you is drunk. Tbh, when it’s round the other way, I’m no better.

I stopped drinking on a Monday and of course I had already arranged to meet a friend that week for a drink, so the first hurdle was telling my friend I’m not drinking. He said he was actually looking to have a break for a bit so I sighed with relief and we met up for a non-alcoholic drink. I thought for a moment this would be the answer. I could be everyone’s excuse not to drink; maybe everyone was looking for a reason to have a night off?!

Last time I stopped drinking I remember wanting to feel different in the mornings. To be honest I didn’t feel much difference, but that’s ok.

From experience, when making big life changes like this it is important to have goals and a focus. Create a reason not to drink. I have signed up for the Tour de Cambridgshire in June next year, which is a 100 mile fast paced race around Cambridgshire and I am looking to head to Denmark in spring 2020 to cycle 820 kilometers in 7 days around the Baltic Sea.

There will always be excuses and reasons to drink and for me it is important not to feel bad if I do, it is a marathon not a sprint. If I have a drink I will just reset the next day and start again. If by this time next year I have drunk 10 times, it is better than to have drunk 365 times. The following year I can hopefully get it down to 5 times and so on. Who knows I may be able to just stop completely.

I will post a blog in 6 months time for anyone that is interested to see how it’s going.

 

 

 

 

Cycling

Cycling

After giving up trying to lift weights in the garden, going on two runs and doing a couple of online body weight movement sessions, I finally remembered I had my bike in the shed. So thought I would dust the cobwebs off, literally.

I haven’t used it since my last sprint distance triathlon back in 2013. I used to love cycling. For me, it was the best bit of Triathlon training. So I searched for my cycling gear and found that it was all far too small for me! Lockdown had well and truly got a hold of me by this point and instead of the 80kg I was back in 2013, I was sitting around 98kg, which I can attribute mainly to beer. Nevertheless I sucked my belly in and prayed that the zips did not break as I squeezed into the stretched-to-the-limit lycra. My movement was pretty restricted but luckily you don’t need to move your upper body too much on the bike.

I went out and hit a 14k loop that I used to do on my rest days. Unsurprisingly it was hard work, but the landscape was beautiful and this is one of the things I have always loved about getting out on the bike. We are so lucky here in Tonbridge. In 5 minutes you can be in the beautiful Kent countryside. So I got home knackered but happy! I waited to see how the legs felt after a couple of days and they were ok so I did the route again only this time a little faster. I was a little less knackered and happy again.

Exercise makes you happy BUT you have to enjoy the exercise for it to be sustainable. I was not happy doing the weights, in fact it was probably having the reverse effect and just pissing me off. Before lockdown I was, and have for a long time, been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which for me is perfect as the ‘getting fit’ part is a byproduct of having fun with friends, wrestling and learning some cool stuff.

Cycling is the same in lots of ways. Like Jiu Jitsu, cycling enables you to train together in a team but you are on your own on race days or those big weekend rides. No one can physically help you on that big hill; it’s down to you to dig deep in the same way when you are under someone’s side control in a Jiu Jitsu competition. The guy on the side shouting, “get out from under him” doesn’t help! It’s all on you and you need to utilize everything you have learnt while training with your team to get out. I love this!

So anyway, after my second ride out I bought a new jersey online, in a Large. When it arrived, it didn’t fit much better than the old ones. It was at this point that my mindset shifted. Not being able to fit into a large top (even though cycling jerseys come up small) was the trigger I needed to break some pretty unhealthy habits and train more. We all know its calories in vs calories out and I’ve always trained really hard, which has allowed me a little flexibility on my diet and drinking. However, stop training and keep eating and drinking means I blow up like a balloon pretty quick. Being someone who likes to eat and drink, I decided to increase my training so some rides I was burning 1800 calories. So far the most I’ve burnt on one ride was our 145k ride to Rye that burnt 3785 calories. The more I trained the less I drank, the better I started to eat. If we were heading out on Sunday morning ride, I wouldn’t drink too much the night before and would try and get an early night.

Now 3 months since my first ride of 2020 I have stopped drinking completely, made a few tweaks to my diet, I am doing yoga every morning and I am feeling great. I am also now ranked 10th on one of the Strava segments that covers part of the loop I first went out on and have now reduced my time for that loop from the initial 33:35 to 27:13. Perhaps most importantly, the new jersey that was too tight now fits perfectly!

We have managed to bring a few likeminded cyclists from Tonbridge and surrounding areas together and created PeloTON, a fun little club that anyone can join. We ride varying distances on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays as a group. We have had some awesome Sunday rides around Kent, Sussex and Surrey. We have climbed two of the top 100 hills in the UK including The Wall and York Hill. We’ve seen some stunning views on the marshland around Romney and up on Ashdown Forest. Most importantly we’ve found some great coffee shops. We are heading out to Whitstable next Sunday to try and hit the 100-mile trip goal.

If you are interested in joining contact us on Instagram or join our club on Strava (PeloTON).

Social Media

Social Media

Sulston’s Kitchen was built on social media. I started the business as a YouTube channel back in 2014 and it has been able to grow into what it is today because of social media.

 

Over the last 6 years social media has changed and it has become a strange world for me. For people with certain personality types, social media can take over and become all consuming. This is what has happened to me. In the last 6 years I have only really had 1 week off. This was in June 2019 for a family holiday. I put an out of office on my emails and deleted WhatsApp. The out of office read:

‘I’m on holiday but the kind of holiday like we used to have back in the 90’s when we didn’t answer call, texts or emails.’

 

The 24-hour availability we have created has its benefits but it can also be hugely detrimental. Obviously this is part of running a business in 2020 but at the same time it is also important to ensure your mental health is looked after as well as your business.

 

At the end of July this year I deleted all the apps from my phone and installed a brain-training app. When I picked up my phone to go on social media, I went on the app instead. If you have deleted the apps from your phone you will know, there are times in the day that you reach for your phone to look at them for no reason.

The algorithms are clever and the more you understand them, the more entangled you become. If you don’t post you disappear off peoples feeds, so you keep posting. Running a local business with close to 3000 followers I estimate maybe 20% of them are the people purchasing my products. So when people say ‘comment on my post’, it’s because when you comment you are showing interest so future posts will show higher on your feed. I use Instagram for personal posts and fun as well as business but out of all my followers, I estimate less than 5% care if I went for a bike ride or went to the gym. So it ends up being a balancing game.

 

With this said it is important not to underestimate the power of social media to motivate others. That gym pic or that ride may be just what someone needs to see to get them out of a rut and make more positive choices. Friends I follow have inspired me and I’ve been told I have motivated people that follow me to train. I feel like you end up in this strange place where you need social media and you feel like people need you on social media.

 

We are in the process of updating the website at the moment and this will be our main platform to communicate through the events, and blog pages. Obviously social media will still be active but I will be allocating specific time in my week to manage it. It will become a functional part of advertising/ marketing for the business from my laptop rather than my phone.

 

So going forward, if you care what I’m doing on my bike, follow me on Strava. If you want to see what I’m up to at Jiu Jitsu, come train and if you want to talk with me, we can meet for a coffee.

This is just my own personal experience and the changes I am making are a choice I have made for a more positive future.

 

I’m still in the process of making changes and so for now I am taking a break.