From education to employment

Tyneside café is entrepreneur’s recipe for business success

A talented entrepreneur from Washington has launched a new business serving quality, locally sourced food and beverages to purveyors of breakfast and brunch. 

Former Gateshead College student Aidan Jackson is the brains behind Sandyford-based Aidan’s Kitchen, which employs five staff and recently opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Set in a relaxed environment with a contemporary twist, the café sells tastebud-tempting treats ranging from a traditional full English breakfast to harissa spiced tomato and pepper stew, smashed avocado with red chillies, and grilled chorizo and halloumi flatbread. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s also a wide selection of cakes, scones and other tasty desserts on offer. 

Aidan’s interest in food was ignited during his childhood, when he enjoyed making cakes for visitors at his local church fayre. After finishing his CGSEs he completed professional cookery and patisserie courses at Gateshead College, where he learned how to make complex pastry products and prepare and cook other tasty dishes. He also acquired a sound knowledge of food service, food hygiene and workplace health and safety. Another member of Aidan’s team, kitchen assistant Lee Swainston, also completed the professional cookery and patisserie courses at Gateshead College. 

After leaving college in 2014, 22-year-old Aidan worked in several local eateries including an Italian restaurant and Jesmond-based ARLO bistro and café, where he honed his culinary talents under the wing of renowned head chef Brian James. This experience, along with the skills and knowledge acquired at college, gave him the confidence to go solo and launch his own venture.

Aidan said: “There’s a gap in the market for this type of café in Sandyford. I wanted to create a relaxed environment so that customers feel as though they’re dining in their own living room. I’m already thinking of ways to expand the business, perhaps by extending our opening hours and introducing a supper club if there’s sufficient demand for it. Eventually I want to open a second outlet somewhere in the North East.

“The Gateshead College courses gave me the skills and confidence I needed to work in the industry. The tutors really helped and encouraged me to pursue my ambitions, which I’m now doing. Lee has also completed the same courses at the college so I knew he’d have the right skills and enthusiasm when I recruited him.”   

Alistair Gilchrist, curriculum leader at Gateshead College, said: “It’s fantastic to see our former students doing well in the business world and I’m confident that Aidan’s Kitchen will be a huge success. Our courses are designed to equip students with the skills and attributes they need to either secure a job at an established employer or start their own business.”

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