Rachel Horne talks to local food hero Michael Price about his latest venture a sea food bar and restaurant at the heart of Doncaster Market.
Considering all the controversy around the previous owner of this market pitch, it’s a pretty brave move taking this venture on. What made you go for it?
Well, that was sort of the impetus. As you know I’m very proud of Doncaster and especially the market, so when the story broke I was devastated. There are massive positive changes happening at the market, and such a bad story really set back all the good work lots of people are doing. I thought that I could bring a bit of positivity back.
You’re known in some circles as Doncaster’s number one food hero… How did you earn that crown? Sorry if it sounds cringy…
I wouldn’t say that, I certainly don’t consider myself that. I’m fairly well known because I love people and love meeting interesting people. Most chef’s are quite insular, that’s why they hide in the kitchen. I think it’s fair to say that
I was the first person to bring a more modern, international style of food to Doncaster. That’s still not common, plus I was the first with new technology like cooking sous-vide, something I started experimenting with 15 or so years ago when it wasn’t mainstream.
What’s cooking sous-vide?
Things are vacuum packed in bags using a commercial chamber sealer, then dropped into a very accurate water bath so the cooking can be controlled to .1 of a degree. It’s in common usage now, but unheard of outside Michelin starred kitchens a decade plus ago. Initially
I had to buy the water baths from laboratory supply companies.
It’s like food is an art and a science for you?
I like to think of it as a craft, personally. I don’t consider myself an artist, I’ve always been interested in science as well. I don’t like to make distinctions between creative people. I love food but also, literature, music, architecture, fine art, design etc. I take influence from all of these things. I’m a cook
but also a creator. I know a guy who bakes absolutely incredible bread and is obsessed with cooking, but he’s a hairdresser — our bread is made by Mark, who’s a school teacher. Creative people just have to create things!
Bay Tree, I buy his bread! – recently bought a bag of Hot Cross Buns from Scicluna Deli. I’ve not stopped talking about them. This issue of Doncopolitan is dedicated to the Slow Movement — which is essentially about bringing artisan culture into our everyday
life. We’re pitching for Doncaster to become a Slow Town, despite the high number of fast food outlets we have, we wanna turn things around. You’re also passionate about Slow Food, how can people adapt slow values to their homes and kitchens without it breaking the bank?
Slow Food is such a fantastic subject. It’s something very close to my heart and always has been ever since my childhood (before the term was coined). The buzz word in food at the moment is sustainability. This addresses one of the key points of slow food. When I was a kid my dad would roast a chicken on Sunday and we’d have a big family dinner. On Monday he’d get some of his own leeks and potatoes, make a stock from the carcass and we’d all sit around eating lovely chicken and leek soup. It was a wonderful thing, he used everything, he took his time, grew the veg, raised chickens, took his time making the stock for the base. It was magical, food should be magical, not something you get out of a packet and throw in a microwave. I wouldn’t even call it food, it’s fuel that’s all. No love has gone into it! The easiest way is turn off the TV, get rid of the iPads and phones and say we are going to cook and eat a meal together
This month you’re opening Clam & Cork at the Fish Market, what should Doncasterians expect from this new venture? And what are your thoughts on the new developments at the market?
Yes, hopefully this month! Well it’s a seafood bar that has a licence. We will be open Tuesday through to Saturday. The food will be simple using great ingredients. As people may know I travel a great deal researching food, and I go to many markets. It’s very rare to find something like this in the U.K. There are a few in London but they aren’t accessible to many people because
of the price. Seafood isn’t cheap, the profit you make is very small compared to vegetables or even meat but we will offer value for money. No fast food, slow food but around the price of Wagamama, Nando’s etc. The response from the people of Doncaster has been so positive. I posted a picture of a logo on social media and we had 1,000 likes in under 24 hours — I see this as a great way to kick-start what’s happening in the Wool Market. Something I’m really excited about!
Check out Clam & Cork HERE