Having cooked for the likes of Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen, the pies now the limit for former chef Lee from Liverpool – The Guide Liverpool – The Guide Liverpool
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Now Lee, 49, from Waterloo, is celebrating a few number ones of his own having produced award-winning creations from his pie and mash shop, Pullman Jack’s.
Best-sellers include Scouse Pie, Salt N Pepper Fromage Pie and one with Cherrywood smoked pulled pork and Bury black pudding. There’s even a vegan range with a nod to the Beatles and Paul McCartney, for whom Lee cooked, with names like Eleanor Chickpea, 8 Days a Leek and Salt N Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Pie.
“I’m over the moon with how it’s going,” says Lee. “I’ve worked all over the world and with chefs from America, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Australia, and I’m bringing all of that, all that I’ve learned into what I’m doing at Pullman Jack’s.
“I want to create pies for all occasions, with a taste of Spain, or a taste of India, to remind people of the places they’ve been to or the people they’d loved.”
He adds: “We all love a pie, it’s a great comfort food, and these have got the best ingredients, they’re handmade with al-butter pastry and they’ve got proper fillings – you’re not searching for a bit of meat in the corner.”
Lee began his culinary career with a YTS scheme, working in various venues and doing his City & Guilds qualifications at Hugh Baird College in Bootle.
He left the city to establish a career – ‘Liverpool didn’t have the culinary appetite it has now, back then orange juice was still a starter!’ – and worked in hotels and restaurants in Oxford, London and throughout the UK.
After years perfecting his craft, Lee’s name was put forward by a friend when rock band Status Quo were looking for a tour chef, and after he got the job for them, travelling for three months across Europe cooking for the band, crew members and tour managers, he embarked on a career with some of the top names in the music industry.
He’s cooked for Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen and Depeche Mode, to name a few; and catered backstage for shows like the MTV Awards and the Brit Awards.
It tested his skills and his resource. “You have to be creative and know how to plan ahead,” he says. “You’re moving from venue to venue and so you have to know what you’re doing so you can get out to get your ingredients and create lots of different dishes.
“It certainly expands your repertoire. It was a bit like Ready, Steady Cook on a big budget, we changed menus every day, we’d do three or four main dishes for lunch, dinner was a la carte with a meat, fish, chicken and veggie/vegan dish, starters, desserts and pick, as well as pick and graze food.
“I worked out that on a three-month tour I’d probably cook about 2,500 different dishes!”
It made life interesting: “Just like the roadies packed away the gear, all the pots and pans etc. would be packed away too ready for the next venue.
“There was usually a kitchen area in the venue, but I’ve cooked in shower rooms, corridors and makeshift tents before now.”
He perfected his vegan knowledge working for Paul McCartney who insisted that everything was vegan, and, although Lee can’t disclose too many details about the people he worked for, he says Boss Bruce Springsteen liked fresh bagels and ate king prawns when he came off stage after a three-hour show because they were packed with protein and better to digest than a huge steak!
Lee travelled across the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe – ‘I toured Europe about 40 times’ – but finally decided to call it quits. “It was great, I travelled the worked and went to some amazing places but it became more about business and less about show and you’d work often from 6am to 11am, doing eight or nine days in five different countries without a day off.”
But he adds: “I made some great friends, saw great places and was part of special moments.”
When he came home, Lee was wondering what to do when he helped make pies for The Little Macaron in St John’s Road, Waterloo, and when that closed – and his pies were doing so well – he decided to launch his own shop.
Having fine-honed his meat-smoking skills, Lee uses smoked meats in his pies along with a host of vegetables and other fantastic ingredients. His chicken and mushroom pies contain five different mushrooms; and he is constantly thinking up of weekly specials to add to his core and vegan ranges.
In spite of open a few weeks before lockdown in February last year, Lee did well with regular queues out of the door for his freshly cooked range – which you can get with mashed potato, gorgeous gravies and mushy peas – and his cook at home pies.
He opens two days a week – Friday and Saturday – and supplies some local breweries, and he hopes to open more and expand with more shops and suppliers, ‘once I know I can meet demand because our pies are all homemade which is labour intensive’.
London pubs and breweries have already been in touch too – probably because when he entered the British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray earlier this year, he won eight – including one Class Winner with his Cherrywood Smoked Pulled Pork and Bury Black Pudding Pie, and was awarded Best Newcomer.
Lee has already got his sights on Christmas, planning to repeat his hugely popular Christmas Pie Dinner, with roast potatoes, roast carrots, fresh sausage meat stuffing, roast turkey and gravy with cranberry sauce, and Pigs in Blanket Pie with chipolata sausages, mashed potato, smoked bacon, maple syrup and mustard sauce.
And, with success guaranteed, it seems the Pie’s the Limit!
Article written by Janet Tansley
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