In 2018, he made it to the semi-finals of Masterchef UK – a show on which he made Middlesbrough’s infamous ‘chicken parmo’ for judges Greg Wallace, Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti. A former paramedic, he now spends his working week teaching people how to cook at Leeds Cookery School and Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food.
When he’s not teaching, he’s baking cakes for independent cafes around Leeds and writing his debut cookbook, which celebrates cult recipes from the north of England.
LUXE PEOPLE >>
My mam is a treasure. I didn’t get my cooking skills from her, but she taught me so much about kindness and being a good person. She has stood by every choice I’ve made in life, encouraged me to make my own decisions – and mistakes too – and find my own way in life. It’s the best way for any person to grow, so I’m thankful she afforded me that freedom to choose my own path.
LUXE PLACES >>
For a weekend > I love a seaside weekend at the coast. Whenever I’m back in Newcastle, I’ll pay Tynemouth, Whitley Bay or South Shields a visit. I love Brighton, too, if I fancy a buzzy party break. Anglesey, Wales, is a go-to if I fancy something a bit more quiet.
A long holiday > Copenhagen, Nice, Gdansk or Stavanger. They’re relatively small cities, which makes them really easy to explore, and offer just enough for a little city break. All accessible via Newcastle International Airport, too-handy!
LUXE RELAX >>
Best food > I’m obsessed with ice cream. At one point, I even considered moving to Italy to study at the Gelato University in Bologna. I feel like ice cream is a culinary art of its own – it’s all about delivering flavour through cold. Everything tastes slightly different when cold, so you taste a different side to certain flavours.
Favourite restaurant > A café-bistro called Blue Sky Café in Bangor, North Wales, where I went to university. It’s basically an attic-space, with creaky wooden floors, mismatched furniture and a gorgeous log fire. They change their menu regularly and offer incredible daily specials so you never know what you’re getting when you walk through the door. The food is earthy, rustic and laid-back. Perfect.
Perfect weekend > Plenty of sleep, good food and making the most of my time off with the people I love. I work in Leeds all week long, so I like to get out of the city if I can, but if not, I’ll stay at home, try out new recipes, crash on the sofa, watch cookery programmes and not get dressed until 4pm. And that’s fine by me!
Downtime means > Although I’m teaching and entertaining classes of people each day, I’m actually a massive introvert. When I need some me-time to recharge my batteries, I’ll take myself out shopping, treat myself to a nice dinner or a massage, or go for a long walk in the nearby woods. A lot of people might feel awkward doing these things alone, but I find it so refreshing.
Best telly > I love fast-paced drama. I have a really short attention span for TV, so it has to grab me right away to get me hooked! There have been some terrific shows lately which have done just that, two of which are Killing Eve and Bodyguard. They had me on the edge of my seat.
Best book > I have lots of cookbooks. My favourites are old, tattered ones I bought in flea markets in other countries. Some of them are so old they don’t have photographs, which I prefer because you can use your imagination in how the recipe will look. I also have loads of travel guides, philosophy books and language-learning books, pretty nerdy stuff!
Best sounds > Music is my favourite way to unwind. Jazz and piano mixes are wonderful for lazing around the house, cleaning or cooking. That said, upbeat trance and house really help my imagination and my creative process – it’s like rocket fuel for my brain sometimes!
LUXE SHOP >>
Best shopping city > Both Leeds and Newcastle are great. You can get everywhere by foot and there are plenty of bars and restaurants peppered around the city centre too, so you’re never out of an excuse for a mid-shopping cocktail or three!
Favourite shop > I’m a shameless charity shopper. I quite like buying things that everybody else isn’t wearing – it makes shopping feel like a lucky dip. You never know what treasures you’ll find!
Luxe retail treat > I’ve developed a habit for massages. My best friend treated me to one for my birthday last year – the first one I’d ever had – and I’ll never forget how incredibly relaxing it was.
LUXE PARTY >>
Perfect party > To me, a perfect party is one in which everyone can enjoy themselves, without worrying about their obligations. Because life can get so complicated as an adult, it’s easy to lose touch with good friends as you grow older.
Best dress > I love a crisp shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to show you’re ready for anything! I like to go for black, skinny-fit jeans and really clean, sharp shoes. If there were any part of a man’s outfit worth going all out on, it’s shoes. The way I see it, always treat yourself to good shoes and good bedding, because you’ll always be in one or the other.
Dinner date > My perfect dinner date would be somewhere familiar, friendly and informal. I find there’s a lot of romance in visiting an old haunt where you know the food is guaranteed to be consistently good and the staff lovely. I find enjoying these cosy rituals with a loved one to be a perfect bonding experience – the perfect dinner date. For me, one of my cosy rituals is getting a really good burger or fish and chips, finding a quiet place to sit down, eat and talk about the deep and meaningful things.
YOUR LUXE THINGS IN LIFE >>
In the kitchen, a whisk. Whenever I’m cooking in somebody’s house, I panic when they don’t have one. It’s the best tool in the kitchen: it gets the lumps out of any sauce, it folds ingredients together so delicately and it slips air and lightness into anything you wave it at. In my bag, my insulated water bottle. I carry water with me everywhere. When I travel, a pair of good of sunglasses.