Back in 2017, Dave Coulson revealed an unfulfilled culinary dream.
The chef behind Peace and Loaf, one of the North East’s poshest restaurants, has since pivoted to a pie maker.
It may raise a few eyebrows given Durham-born Dave’s food is as generally far removed from the humble pie as you can get.
However, after Covid effectively put the skids on fine dining for the time being, Dave chased his dream – and it appears to have paid off spectacularly.
“We have regulars coming every week now for a pie,” said Dave, who said the success of the venture – called Peace of Pie – was down to both the quality and the lack of competition.
“If the pies are good, then people will come and pie is the food people really love
“But the pies that you get in Newcastle are often the same as the pies everywhere. We are chefs making full flavour pies with great pastry.”
What makes this pie pivot seem surprising is that Peace and Loaf has a glowing reputation for fine dining.
The tasting menu features ingredients you aren’t likely to find at Greggs anytime soon; Shiitake mushrooms, caviar, rib of beef and scallops are all on a menu which would set you back £85 – and that’s before you’ve ordered drinks.
But anybody who had followed Dave’s career would know he is, well, a bit partial to a good pie.
That same tasting menu even had a fine dining twist on one – complete with raw steak.
And when he appeared on Masterchef: The Professional back in 2010, what was one of the dishes he served the judges? Yup, you guessed right,
That Masterchef pie, featuring chicken and mushroom, has made an appearance at the new shop. But he’s largely staying away from the posh stuff and focusing on big, big flavour.
Ham and pease pudding and an “absolutely lush” corned beef pie sit as highlights alongside more unusual fillings on the £4-a-pie menu.
That’s not to say he doesn’t wish he was cooking the food which got his Jesmond restaurant into the Michelin Guide.
“(Before restaurants closed last year) we were doing OK, we were keeping the doors open which is the main thing,” said Dave about Peace and Loaf, which had a makeover shortly before the pandemic hit.
“”I pray to god that we can open it the way it was again. But I don’t think anyone will be expecting the old life to come back straight away.”
But rather than flog fast food as other restaurants have to keep the doors open, Dave decided to offer something different – even though there were simpler ways to earn a crust.
“It is easier to knock out burgers, and I think people don’t make pies because they can’t be bothered – they take time,” he added.
But clearly there was a gap in the market for a proper pie shop – and judging by the scenes on Valentine’s Day, the venture is paying off.
Huge crowds lined up outside the shop to pick up a romantic pie supper lat Sunday, as word continued to spread about a venture years in the making.
That brings us back to 2017, when Dave told lovefood.com that in five years time he’d love to open a “Geordie pie and mash shop”, with Brown Ale gravy and all the trimmings.
Just over three years since that interview, and the shop is now in full swing, as he admits: “Covid just forced our hand a little.”