Brendan Fyldes, executive chef, Cafe Football, London

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st August 2014

In association with

electrolux     Cafe Football launchCafé Football was the brainchild of Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville who along with hotelier Stuart Procter formed GG Hospitality to create great restaurants and hotels with a football theme. Café Football opened in Stratford in December 2013 with executive chef Brendan Fyldes at the helm and two-Michelin-starred Michael Wignall consulting on the menu. It’s perhaps no surprise then that this purveyor of simple, hearty food for footie fans has also had the food critics sitting up and taking notice. The Staff Canteen caught up with Brendan Fyldes to check out the score.   It must have been fun doing the research and coming up with ideas for football food? I just imagined watching the football with my mates and thought, what would we want to eat? It was really that easy – what do you want to eat when you’re watching the football with your mates, how good do you want it to be and how much are you prepared to pay for it? A lot of stuff came from my youth. We all remember Vimto so we do a Vimto ice cream and we get about ten people a day who say, “God, I’d forgotten about Vimto.” Things like the sausage roll came from my memory of going to Liverpool games as a kid and everyone used to have a sausage roll and dunk it in a mug of Bovril. It’s all about that trip down memory lane.
Off the menu: Starting Eleven Platter CF Sausage Rolls The Boss burger Chocolate Turf See the full menu here   Top Footy foods: Potato pie with corned beef Cup of Bovril with a sausage roll dipped in it A good burger
What kind of things did you do to celebrate the World Cup? We did a Brazilian menu which was good fun; we looked at Brazilian street food ; we had a chef that had actually lived in Brazil and been to a couple of matches there, so we did pastels, which are like pasties. We looked at Brazilian sausages. There’s a really good Brazilian shop in Bethnal Green so we went up there and asked them about the produce and sausages and things like that; we did hotdogs with those. We also ran a competition at the local college, Newham College, and we asked the students to come up with what they thought would be a great pie for the World Cup. The winning pie went on the menu, which was beef and cachaça and we gave a pound back to the charity at the children’s college for every pie sold; so we got quite a few people involved which is what Café Football’s all about. It sounds like your making good connections with the local community. Stratford is all about the community. We are always trying to get involved in the local community, it is very important to all of us. Just yesterday we were sat outside on The Street in Westfield and my chef said, “Three people just said hello to us! People are so friendly here!” When you worked in the West End you could see a chef from the next hotel and you wouldn’t speak for two years. There’s a real different community feel to it. We have two apprentices who’ve come through the college now and some of the pot washers have come through the regeneration programme down at Westfield, so it’s great to see the rewards. How much do Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs get involved in the restaurant?Shrimper's Prawn People think they’re just two footballers but they’ve travelled the world and stayed in great hotels and eaten great food so they have a very valid input. Gary does a lot of work with fans forums which is about going back to the fans and seeing what people really want, so yes they’re very involved. How many are in the kitchen team and how many covers do you do on average? We’ve got nine chefs and three pot washers. On a busy Saturday we’re doing about 420 covers at the moment, so it’s a very tight kitchen; we’ve set it up really well. Space is a massive issue in London but anything we outsource, like our burger mixes, we have made to our recipe. We have our buns come in exactly the same size every day. Chocolate Pistachio TurfIt’s basically a service kitchen but what makes us that much better is that everything is done in house. For the burger mix alone, we tried 60 or 70 burgers before got the burger mix we wanted. By the end of the past year I was sick to death of burgers and I don’t think I ate one for three months, because I’d just gone to that limit where I was like, I’m burgered out now! We’ve done them all but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? You do your research and get your market right. You have had some really good food reviews; do you think people were surprised that football food could get great reviews from people like Jay Rayner? I think it has massively surprised people and I think people like Jay Rayner have encouraged more foodie people to come in here; his review was so good that people actually sat up and noticed; so yes I think we have surprised people but then if they look at the calibre of people we’ve got in the company, maybe they shouldn’t be surprised. Where did your career take you before you came to Café Football? I came straight out of school and worked for my aunty and uncle who had a hotel in Blackpool. Half-time OrangeFrom there I went to Northcote Manor where I met Stuart Procter [GG Hospitality managing director] and did my apprenticeship. I moved on from there to L’Escargot, then Quo Vadis then Morton’s under Garry Hollihead then back to L’Escargot as head chef. From there I went to work for Paul Heathcote at The Longridge for a year but I missed London so I came back to work for Marco Pierre White and ended up running The Portrait Restaurant above the National Portrait Gallery which is where I met Richard Corrigan and I also met Liz Reece who’s the general manager here. From there I went to run Bentley’s for Richard Corrigan, then The Stafford hotel for two or three years then I ended up here. How does working at Café Football compare to your other jobs? I think it’s great. I think we’ve really got the fun element right here because if you can’t sit down at a table and have fun while you’re eating there’s something a bit wrong. The kitchen is in the restaurant and you can see people eating and you can see how happy they are, and I’ve never had that before. I’ve always been in basements or upstairs or out the back; it’s actually quite nice and people come and say thank you which is great. Cafe Football launchIs the plan to roll Café Football out across the country? The second Café Football is part of Hotel Football which is being built now in Manchester; that will be opening at the end of the year; that’s going to have a lot of different elements like the football pitch on the roof which will be a barbecue-type area and we’ll have a function room for 300 so there’ll be different menus to roll out there. After that we’ll take it where it goes.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st August 2014

Brendan Fyldes, executive chef, Cafe Football, London