The organisers of North East food festivals have been praised for helping a son achieve his lifelong ambition of opening a restaurant.
Dad Tim Monkhouse from Whitley Bay and son Tom have become familiar sights at Proper Food and Drink Festivals selling their Middle East street food.
They set up Papa Ganoush after both were made redundant five years ago. Tim was a senior manager with a social housing company – and a skilled amateur curry chef – and Tom, a trained cook, ran the kitchen at a coffee shop in the MetroCentre.
Their food has become so popular that they are going to open their first restaurant later this summer in Park View, Whitley Bay. They already have plans for others in Edinburgh and Harrogate.
Speaking at the Whitley Bay Proper Food and Drink Festival – organised by Mark and Shelley Deakin from New Hartley – Tim said the experience they have gained working at festivals has given them the confidence to fulfil Tom’s dream of owning his own restaurant.
“It’s a big step up from where we are now to where it’s going to be,” he said, “but we’ve established our name, thanks to Mark and Shelley’s festivals, so we’re not opening a restaurant unknown. We’ve had the opportunity to build a reputation, which makes the transition a lot easier.”
Father and son plan to continue working at Proper Food and Drink Festivals – which are coming to Cramlington and North Shields in the next few weeks – but are looking forward to offering their restaurant customers a taste of their full culinary repertoire.
Russell and Michiko McCartney, also from Whitley Bay, might one day themselves open a restaurant in the town. Russell, a sales manager for a recruitment company, said: “Potentially. It feels that Whitley Bay’s coming up a bit.” The opening of Papa Ganoush’s restaurant was a sign of things to come, he added.
For now the parents of three children are content to provide authentic Japanese street food through their business Tokyo Kitchen. “Michiko grew up in restaurants in Japan where her father was a chef. She knows how tough it is – 24 hours a day,” said Russell.
Tokyo Kitchen is a popular attraction at all the Proper Food and Drink Festivals. “These events – which attract so many different types of people – really showcase our food,” said Russell. “The food business is opening up because of these festivals. People seem a lot more interested and they can come up and try different things.”
Thousands of people visited the dozens of stalls set up on the Spanish City Plaza. Organiser Mark Deakin said: “We’ve known lots of the businesses, like Papa Ganoush and Tokyo Kitchen, for years. They’ve become good friends so it’s fantastic to see them doing so well.”
The next Proper Food and Drink Festival is being held in Cramlington 30 and 31 July before returning to North Tyneside on 20 and 21 August when it takes place in Northumberland Square in North Shields.