Lockdown makes Hitchen's Kitchen's Adam a sushi star
Some start up businesses have managed to grow in lockdown ... ask Adam Hitchen whose culinary skills have been put to a new use.
Lockdown certainly brought the challenge of change for chef Adam Hitchen.
He has extended Lancashire's food offer with a state of the art sushi service.
His Hitchen's Kitchen business, which started out selling British dishes, evolved within weeks to provide a distinctive niche offer - carefully crafted sushi which can be collected from his home.
Adam learned his trade working in his family's former restaurant chains - Neighbourhood and Victors, which had branches in Manchester, Cheshire and Liverpool. He had also trained at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland and with renowned chef Heston Blumenthal.
He had previously, while still working in the restaurant industry, taught a few cookery classes at his home on the outskirts of Ribchester, near Longridge. But in October, as lockdowns further impacted on the catering trade, he and his partner Sarah Farrimond decided to see what local demand there would be for his home crafted dishes.
Sarah said: "He started with pies and puddings to see how it would go. You can pretty much get that anywhere. Because he's a trained sushi chef we thought there's nowhere in this area you can get sushi - we just thought we'll try it. It's absolutely skyrocketed."
Adam said: "Basically we put a post out on Facebook saying we're thinking of doing sushi..."
Sarah believes that sushi appeals in different ways. She said: "I think it's very pretty. It looks nice, it's appealing to the eye but it's also very tasty. It's unusual. The taste, the textures and the combinations are just very different from anything else you can get."
Sarah said the response to the dishes has been great: "People are saying it's the best sushi they've ever had, somebody said it was comparable to what they had in Japan."
Adam, who attended St Mary's Hall at Stonyhurst, before completing his schooling at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, says it is precision and timing which make sushi superb. He said: "It's pretty much attention to detail, taking the time to master your craft. It's to look precise. People eat with their eyes - it's that fine margin to make it look extremely slick and (have) sharp edges and the taste. It's that fine margin of making it look like a piece of art but the taste has got to be there as well. It's got to have all those elements."
They have already had an enquiry about catering at a wedding and now they are looking to expand. Sarah said: "We are looking to move away from doing it from home - we're looking for a unit somewhere. It's outgrown here."
Sarah, who has helped guide the launch, has a degree in marketing from Leeds University and has also previously worked in the hospitality industry. She is continuing with her full time job working for a Preston based recruitment company. Meanwhile an extra chef has been recruited, a website commissioned and another staff member recruited to help with social media.
The couple's advice for anyone nervous about trying sushi is to park any preconceptions. She said: "People think it's just raw fish but we do (for example) a duck roll and a chicken katsu curry roll. The only raw fish we do is tuna. You have to cook prawns. Don't have any preconceptions that sushi is just raw fish."
She continued: "Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with rice, nori (sheets of seaweed) and a variety of ingredients / fillings...We do rolls that are filled with things such as pork, crispy duck, chicken, deep fried tempura prawn and seared salmon. As well as this, we do vegetarian rolls and even have a vegan option which is made with bbq seasoned jackfruit."
Customers are asked to place their orders and a Covid secure collection time will be arranged. The company is on Facebook at Hitchen's Kitchen and on Instagram and its website launches later this week.
The charge is £10 a roll, each comprising eight pieces and Sarah's recommendation is to order three or four rolls for two people.
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