A record-mad football aficionado who had principally made a living as a writer, Keith was also a keen home cook until he decided to meld all of his main interests into one entity and open the Record Cafe on Bradford’s North Parade.
Taking over an empty shop unit and turning it into a record shop that sells fine ales and food (or a fine ales and food-serving cafe that contains a record shop, take your pick), Keith had to quickly learn how to create simple plates of tasty food with only basic cooking facilities.
Opening in 2014, the Record Cafe proved an instant hit and, while the main thrust of the food is Mediterranean meats and cheeses, it’s in the selection and combination of flavours where the culinary skill is to be found.
There are also, of course, seasonal specials, which can include anything from duck breast to octopus. The loyal customers and dedicated staff are now well practised in giving their uninhibited opinions on the relative merits of the food, the drink and the tunes.
And this is the triumph of the Record Cafe – it’s a cosy clubhouse where anyone can sound off while enjoying a bellyful of good food and drink.
A “proper” chef Keith may not be, but no-one would deny his skill when it comes to offering up intriguing flavours and, particularly, good taste.
Can you remember the first dish you ever cooked – and was it a success? At home it was some kind of chorizo casserole. It seemed to be going well until I came to serve it and realised I’d had the heat on too high and the bottom layer had all burnt.
Who is your inspiration in the kitchen and why? I was fortunate to grow up with proper home cooking from my mum every night – meat and two veg, fish, proper food – and go to school with breakfast inside me.
Even though this was a time before ready meals and fast food, I remember realising one day when I was older that not everyone came home from school to real food. So there’s certainly an appreciation there of just how important it is to eat well, and that I was lucky my mum was such a good cook.
What was the first recipe book you ever owned? The books I grew up with were my mum and dad’s Delia Smith books. They still have them all, and like all good cookbooks, they’re falling to bits and splashed with sauce! I remember being obsessed with my mum’s copy of Marguerite Patten’s Cookery in Colour.
If you’ve not seen it, it’s an absolute gem. It might look dated now with its 70s psychedelic photos of duck a l’orange and assorted trifles, but it set the standard for “proper cooking”.
If you organised a dinner party, which three people would you invite and why? David Letterman – he’s the absolute pinnacle of what you can do on television. Keith Richards – I’m a fan of famous Keiths and they don’t get any more famous than Keith Richards. Stone Cold Steve Austin – I think he’d get along with Dave and Keith, and I could listen all day to his wrestling tales from the 80s and 90s. He likes a beer too, so I think we’d get on.
What is your favourite ingredient and why? Meat. Going back to growing up, I was fortunate to eat it every night for tea. Nothing beats a steak, or lamb or pork chop from an animal you now has been reared, fed and looked after well. I feel it’s so important to eat a healthy balanced diet, which seems to get lost a bit these days with so many fad diets and the misinformation of social media.
What have you been doing during lockdown? Work-wise I’ve taken the record shop side of the business online. It’s great to feel like you’re learning how to do something new again. Learning is always the biggest buzz for me. Other than that, lots of reading, housework, plant-tending, cooking of course and becoming a bit obsessed with professional wrestling.