He was a finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals and is now running his own successful restaurant in Jesmond – meet David Coulson.
David Coulson’s passion for food stems from watching Ainsley Harriott on Ready, Steady, Cook! “I used to run home from school as a kid to watch it, embarrassingly,” laughed David. “In fact, I was showing one of the chefs in the kitchen a trick the other day with ginger, basically peeling it with a spoon. He asked me how I knew about it, and it was from watching that programme.”
Although after school David became part of the National Football Academy in the hope he would be picked up as a footballer, he left after three months due to an injury and went to work in his local pub.
“I’d been a pot wash and in the kitchen doing starters anyway, but I found the kitchen very similar to the environment I was in at the academy with the banter,” explained David. “I had a good head chef, it was fun and it’s money in your pocket when you are 16.”
David, 31, is self-taught, learning his trade from chefs as he progressed from pot wash to working at the then Michelin-starred Seaham Hall under Steve Smith.
He said: “I think that’s the best way, learning from chefs, plus you get four extra years in a kitchen rather than if you go to college. My first job was at the Castle Eden Inn and I went back there years later as the head chef.”
After spending a few years working with Marcus Bennett at Newcastle’s McCoys brasserie at the Baltic, David came full circle and became head chef at the Castle Eden Inn before deciding to open Peace & Loaf three years ago.
He said: “It was a bit of a risk but I was ready for a change. I just cook what is put in front of me. We have excellent suppliers. I’ve got a butcher I’ve used for the last 10 years, Ken Holland [who sells organic veg and salads] is four miles away – in fact I’m probably the only chef in the country that Ken drives to come and see! He’s really passionate about his products.
“I think the North East is where everyone is getting their produce from, we have some of the best suppliers in the world I think. We also have foragers, Hamish and Vanessa Dow, who bring us ingredients.”
The restaurant has seven main courses and the dishes change on a daily basis depending on what David can get his hands on.
He’s confident that what he is doing is being well received and thinks that having a star in the city can only help the food in the North East progress.
“We’ve had no bad reviews, touch wood,” he said. “We had a brilliant review from Jay Rayner and had someone in from The Times last week. We are full and that’s all we can ask for.”
Favourite dish to Savour in front of the TV?
I don’t really eat meals at home but I’ll have chocolate and crisps in front of the TV.
Favourite posh nosh?
The best meal I’ve ever had was at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
What ingredient could you not live without?
Three guests you’d have at a dinner party (dead or alive) …
Noel Gallagher, George Best and French chef Auguste Escoffier.