TIN CAN KITCHEN | INTERVIEW
Carl Marsh finds out about a Newport food business who have not only used their nous for things you can reuse to get them through these bad times, they’ve given the city’s musos a little help while doing so.
Tin Can Kitchen utilise shipping containers, turning them into bespoke kitchens servicing an outdoor food court in Newport where people could eat, drink and appreciate live music. At least, that was the plan until the world ground to a halt. With the food court on hold, a food delivery service was born – and with this change of tack, TCK have also been employing many out-of-work musicians who suddenly needed employment. I spoke to two of the three co-owners, Jordan Phillips and Barry Fallon (Amar Karia was away working).
So, Barry, you’re a music graduate who then played in bands, became a chef and food business owner, then went about bringing on board a lot of out-of-work musicians to do all sorts of jobs at Tin Can Kitchen…
Barry Fallon: I got a degree in Creative Sounds back in 2013, and worked in music for a few years, but I’ve always worked in kitchens as well. I ran venues, and I used to run open mics, gigs, hardcore shows, and things like that. I played for a touring hardcore band. Then I met my wife doing aid work when I was running a charity in Greece, which was the largest food producer for the largest refugee camp in Europe. After doing that we both moved to New Orleans, where I worked in restaurants before setting up a business in America. I sold my business to move back over here to help start this project and spend time with my British family.
The initial plan for Tin Can Kitchen when we all came on board was to develop this into a venue, to have live music there – we could have a bar where people could go in and socialise. A nice out-of-town spot. And then, obviously, lockdown. I knew many people from my music days – a lot of musicians who were still professional, but now out of work thanks to COVID-19. We’ve got some of them in the kitchen with us. We’ve got some as delivery drivers, kitchen porters, things like that. A real ragtag bunch, which is great because they’ve all got their strengths they bring to the business – everyone’s used to just loading the shit in the car and getting going. That’s the punk rocker mentality! “Right, get this and bugger off” [laughs]
Jordan, I don’t know how you’re going to beat what Barry has just told me, but what was your journey like getting to Tin Can Kitchen?
Jordan Phillips: I’ve got a marketing background, and I’ve had a couple of businesses before, but I wrapped all of that up and came on board [with Tin Can Kitchen] on a freelance basis initially, which led to being made fulltime to become one of the directors. I’ve got a considerable level of passion for food and music. So it all made sense.
Even with COVID-19 we have big plans for Tin Can Kitchen, with plans to open a seafood container by the summer, planning permission providing. Once lockdown is lifted, it’ll be like the roaring 20s when people are let back out! We’re very good at adapting, as we have proven with implementing the delivery service quite quickly – so we will keep that running, whilst also moving ahead with our long-term plans for the business.
The way you both talk about adapting gives me the impression you’re all determined, no matter what, to succeed.
JP: Yeah, we’re very agile! When COVID happened, we said to ourselves that we had two choices: shelve the idea or butt our heads together and get to work. After we researched, we found that nothing was stopping us from opening, as we had the shipping containers. And as Barry said, we set up a delivery service, and before we knew it, we had a few drivers and a couple of chefs working different shifts in the containers.
BF: Also, it was happening at an interesting time. Many businesses are having to mutate their business model, change their venues, or change their locations. We’ve got friends who spent thousands of pounds at the end of the first lockdown to modify their premises. We’ve turned a negative into a positive because we’re coming into this knowing what we’re moving into, so we can make the right steps rather than having to, you know, fidget around. When the Tin Can Kitchen food courts come to fruition, we’ll work closely with Environmental Health and Trading Standards – I’m always in contact with them so we can work with the government agency to get better.
Can you tell me a little bit about some of the musicians you’ve got working for you?
BF: When we started, one of the first people we got onboard was our mate Pete, and he knows everyone in the music industry. You can’t call him a professional bongo player, but if this slips in to this interview I’d love that [laughs]. Then there’s Katie Parker, who played on Boy George’s last album; she also played for Right Said Fred on one of theirs. We’ve also got Jon Lilygreen, who’s a bit of a Newport hero as he did Eurovision for Cyprus [in 2010] and was also a finalist on X-Factor [in 2017]!
Info: 01633 973666 / www.tincankitchen.co.uk
words CARL MARSH