What’s next

What’s next

I have lots of plans in the pipeline but for now the priority is to get cooking for people in person as soon as possible. So, from May I will be launching my Kadai BBQ at home concept.
Similar to my Supper Club format I will come to your house but instead of cooking in your kitchen, I will be in your garden with my Kadai BBQ where I will cook for you and your guests. All you will need is a table and chairs. I will bring all the cutlery and plates.

Please check out the at home section in my online shop for more information and if you have any questions, please let me know: susltonskitchen@gmail.com

I first cooked on a Kadai when working at a Tiny Table event last summer with Julie Friend at the Mereworth vineyards. Since then, I have been researching them more and trying to understand how they were traditionally used. They are of Indian origin and it seems the cooking methods have evolved over the years. Traditionally the Kadai was used as the vessel to cook the food with a fire lit underneath and they have evolved to what we know as a Kadai today. Now they are used to cook in a BBQ style. They can also be used as an oven and to hang meats over the fire on a tripod to cook slowly over the flames. The possibilities are endless and as I grow older, I am learning to appreciate the simplicity of the amazing produce we have all year round here in the UK and what better way to complement the various delicious produce than to cook over fire.

 

 

My traditional Supper Clubs will start from June and are available to book through the website shop too.

An update from Sulston’s Kitchen….

An update from Sulston’s Kitchen….

I am moving back to Cambridge to be closer to family.

 

Relocating has been a long and difficult decision to make as I love Tonbridge but the last 20 months have really made me rethink. The sudden loss of my best friend followed by the pandemic has really given me a different outlook on life. If I’m honest I have been a little bit broken since the loss of my friend and in a way the pandemic has forced me to stop and think as I didn’t at the time, I just kept working at 100 miles an hour to distract myself. I’m still not the same but I have come to realise I never will be and this is part of life. I have accepted the new me and although I may be slightly broken, I still need to embrace life, live it to the full and continue to do what I love. That is simply cooking delicious food for people.

 

The plan has always been to keep the premises on Quarry Hill Parade open, as I have worked so hard to build it. I want to leave ‘the cool end’ of Tonbridge with something great so I am trying hard to get The Speedy Kitchen into the building as a permanent feature to carry on where I left off.

 

The Speedy Kitchen has got something exciting planned starting next week (w/c 8th March) so Mags will be open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for takeaways so please show your support and pop down for a delicious lunch or grab some of her amazing ready meals and soups.

If you don’t already, please follow her on socials to keep up to date with what she is up to!

INSTAGRAM:

https://www.instagram.com/the_speedy_kitchen/

TWITTER:

https://twitter.com/Speedy_Kitchen

 

This Saturday’s Sulston’s Kitchen Porchetta click and collect (6th March) will go ahead as normal, then Mother’s Day click and collect (13th March) will be the last event I will be running from Sulston’s Kitchen.

 

Anyone that has booked me for an event or supper club that has been postponed due to COVID I will still be doing these for you so as soon as we can rebook, we will.

 

Personally, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has supported me in my first business venture. It has been one hell of a ride the last 5 years and one that will stay with me forever. The support that I have received from day one has been unbelievable. Whether you signed up to a meal plan in the early days, bought a wrap, came to a supper club or booked me for a private event, nothing I have achieved would have been possible without you!

 

When I made the decision to evolve the business into a cafe, it took a while but it was everything I dreamed it would be! There was a buzz in there and that can’t be bought.  It is created simply by bringing people together for the love of good food and coffee. I have fond memories of making new friends over coffee, customers making new friends over brunch or one of the supper clubs. The chilled mid-week vibes all the way through to the crazy weekends. So many people have helped make this possible, from the carpenter that created the counter, the sign writers, plumbers, electricians, friends that put the pictures up and lifted fridges through doors (when they really shouldn’t have fitted through!) And of course, the amazing staff that worked with me and helped create my dream!

You are all AMAZING!

 

All of this would have been for nothing without the wonderful community here in Tonbridge. This town is blessed with such amazing people and I look forward to seeing it flourish again when restrictions allow. Continue to support local and look after each other!

 

Love to you all

Ben

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.