Tom is the first chef we reached out to when starting BrightonSoup and he has been stalwart supporter ever since, delighting us with his inventive and delicious soups. We chatted to the multi-talented Tom to find out more about what inspires him and why he got involved.
Tom, from that accent, I take it you aren’t Brighton born and bred…?
Far from it! I’m originally from Sunderland in the North East but I’ve not lived there for over 12 years, at first moving to Sheffield for University. I think the accent has softened a bit though.
Was it in Sheffield that you learnt your soup wizardry?
Actually, I trained as a civil engineer and worked for a few years in that field before deciding to try my hand at something else so I headed out to the French Alps. I sort of fell into cooking by accident, working in kitchens and chalets, picking up skills over the winter seasons and undertaking intensive cookery classes. People seemed to like the food I was making and I was really enjoying, so I kept going. I worked in the Italian Dolomites, then moving to the Peak District where I catered for large groups and weddings.
There’s a bit of a mountain theme there. Brighton doesn’t have mountains, so why have you ended up here?
I’ve got a few friends who live here and I’ve been visiting for some time. There’s a great music scene and there is always something interesting going on so I decided to stay. I think that happens a lot here.
You have a brilliant mobile soup stall, The Soup Dept, which has just moved to a new spot in Dorset Place, Brighton – why do you love soup so much?
Soup has endless possibilities and variations; it’s healthy and nutritious and works really well as street food. I’ve always loved making soups and it allows me to be creative on a daily basis. Who doesn’t like soup? Since starting up two years ago, Soup Dept. has become really popular with the local community.
Tell me about your customers…
I’m really lucky. Most of my customers are regulars from the art college or offices nearby and I’ve got to know a lot of them since setting up. Being part of the community is really important to me as an independent, and I want to have a positive impact locally. I think soup and talking about soup connects people in some way. My customers even suggest recipes and ideas which I love!
Where else do you get your soup inspiration from?
Everywhere! The meals that I eat, anything that has nice combinations of flavours. I have a back catalogue but I keep I keep mixing it up, serving different soups each day, which are all freshly made inside the soup van, along with fresh bread rolls and organic coffees.
You offer a 50p discount for customers who bring their own cup? That’s brilliant!
Sustainability is a high priority at The Soup Dept. All disposables are compostable and customers are encouraged to help the environment further by bringing their own cup and I like to reward that! Local and organic ingredients are regularly used and food wastage is reduced to be as close to zero as possible. Any leftover bread rolls I deliver to the local food bank.
What’s on the menu today (it smells DIVINE!) and can I have some??
Delicious. So what do you do when not making soup?
Music is my other passion. I’m either watching live bands or playing keyboards with The Willing Gales, a Brighton 8 piece band, Seadog or Laish, a London band with a new album coming out soon.
Why did you decide to get involved with Brighton Soup?
It is an incredible initiative and focuses on having a positive effect on the local community. Who wouldn’t support it? The ideas pitched are inspiring, the format is fun and it is an entertaining evening. Not only that, I’ve met some fascinating people.
If you want to taste what deliciousness Tom’s cooking up for our next event then best come along on the 29th.
Have a great day.