- October 16th 2017
To celebrate our AW17 Original North Sea Outfitters Collection, we’re introducing you to three personalities whose lifestyles are inspired by the coast…
Next up we caught up with Kenny Atkinson, the Founder and Head Chef at Michelin-starred restaurant, House of Tides on the historical Newcastle Quayside. We spent the day with him to find out how the coast inspires his work…
Kenny wears our Barbour Cove Fairisle Crew Neck Jumper styled with our Barbour Burghley Boots.
How did you become a chef?
My career started when I was 16, I started off washing dishes at my Uncle’s restaurant and got involved with food by pure chance as it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I didn’t grow from a food background and then just got trapped, almost engulfed in the culture of the catering industry, the rush, the buzz of a busy service, that’s what’s put me on the path of becoming a chef. I decided that if I was going to become a chef I had to be a good one, so I worked my way up to London to work in some of the best restaurants that I could get into. Then here I am now, at the age of 40, settled in my own business that I run with my wife, with a Michelin star, enjoying life.
How would you describe your food?
My food is simplistic and generous. We work really hard with local suppliers, that’s a big part of what we do as a business. Everything is from local suppliers for the food, to local suppliers for the artwork, everything we do, even the staff are all locally based, so that’s a big draw for me and an important part of what we do.
What makes my food stand out is the consistency, the attention to detail and also a little bit of humour! Being a cheeky Geordie I like to put a bit of humour into my food, as well but seriousness, we do some serious cooking here and want to be recognised as a serious operation.
Using local suppliers is important to you. Tell us more about that.
It’s very important to me to work with local suppliers for a lot of reasons, it’s important for me to support these guys and it’s good for me to put money back into our region rather than sending it somewhere else. We also like to look at this as not just a business but more of a family and our suppliers are a part of that family.
Our local artwork that is supplied to the restaurants by local artists, they are a part of the House of Tides family as well. We all work together and we all strive for the same things, so it’s important that we all support each other through thick and thin in order to achieve our main goal.
How does the coast inspire you?
I have an important relationship with the coast; I grew up on the coastline. I remember as a young child camping up in Amble, going willet picking with my dad on the rocks. Going to Craster with my mum, remembering the first thing that hits you when you go to Craster is the smokehouse, then going to see the kippers being smoked, they are great memories for me. So when we look to incorporate them into our food you know you’ve just got to look at the coast.
Look at Bamburgh and how beautiful it is and the array of fish and shellfish that come off our shorelines is just phenomenal, so why as a chef would I not want to use that? It's really important to me. The coastline is just full of childhood memories for me, even when I go there today it just brings back that those memories and it makes me happy.
Kenny wore our Barbour Keel Tailored Shirt paried with our Barbour Newuston Twill Chinos.
Do you face any challenges by using only coastal produce?
One of the biggest challenges of using local produce or even products from the coastline is that you’re dictated by the weather, it controls everything that is in season. I mean obviously we want to use the best fish we can but if the seas are in storm or the boats can’t go out and fish or the trawlers can’t go and get the lobster then you're dictated by that, so that proves a challenge especially when you’re running a busy operation that doesn’t stop. The relationship with your suppliers is so important because they are there to help you just as much as you are there to support them. For example if local fishermen are going to go through a few days of bad fishing, they pre-warn us.
What does Barbour mean to you?
What Barbour means to me in one word, is quality. I want to wear something that screams North East quality and for me Barbour does that. I have been wearing Barbour for over 5 years now but when I got my first wax jacket, I remember it cost me about £400, but I’ve still got it to this day and it’s still in pristine condition. I take it shooting when I go with James Martin. It’s one of those brands that people want to be associated with and want to be wearing, they can wear it with comfort, but also pride.