The parallels between cooking food and driving racing cars probably aren't immediately obvious, but my racing past has shaped my life in food.
Racing started out for me as it does for most aspiring drivers; a rusty go kart, out the back of a rusty Transit van. The machinery gradually improved, and I went on to compete in formula cars, up as far as F3, switching to endurance racing in Porsches and then attempting to break into NASCAR. A lack of sponsorship ended that story while I was in the US, but it provided the foundation for my approach to food.
After the racing career imploded, I got a dismal job and set about hating my life… I needed something to pour passion into. Then one day I started cooking. I fell down the rabbit hole of food science immediately.
Success in racing requires you to be a little bit better every day, and in order to get better at something, you have to understand how it works. Whether or not you acknowledge it, cooking is science; biology, microbiology, chemistry, physics, all rolled into a delicious meal.
I became a colossal food nerd overnight and began using experimental-dining equipment to recreate the food that I had discovered in the US. This ultimately evolved into starting a food truck called the BBQ Lab. It was an outlet for my cooking passion, but not a fabulously successful venture in commercial terms as I was more interested in making good food than good money.
Fast forward a couple of years and I decided to put wings on the menu one weekend. I took every element of a Buffalo wing apart and tried to make it better. Crispier coating, more tender meat, deeper flavour in the sauce, pickle the celery, truffle oil in the blue cheese. Two months later, they won the award for the best wings in London at WingFest. Thunderbird Fried Chicken was launched in 2017, and that same drive to improve things is ever present.
Fast forward to today and I'm so excited to open the first permanent Thunderbird in Brixton, one of London's most exciting food destinations. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm so grateful to be here.