Matt Davey tells the story behind his Dorset street food business
PUBLISHED: 15:34 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:34 12 December 2016
Matt Davey is the inspirational chef behind Flaming Peaches, a smoking hot street food business that has been tantalising Dorset's taste buds into a veritable tango of excitement
Deep in Corfe Mullen, somewhere between leafy roads and elysian fields lives a Big Green Egg, a classic 1959 Citroen H van and the Davey family; consisting of Matt, his wife Laura, their sons, Freddy and Vinnie, and Oscar, their big black Labradoodle who is more than eager to be anyone’s best friend within licking distance.
Matt Davey has been running his successful street food catering business since 2014, pitching up at a range of events, from birthdays and barbecues, to social suppers and festivals. The idea for Flaming Peaches came to Matt after a fascinating 15 year food-filled journey which encompassed Michelin-starred restaurants, cooking for the discerning palates of Madonna, Guy Ritchie, Marco Pierre White and Jamie Oliver and, closer to home, helping to launch The Tickled Pig in Wimborne Minster.
When I arrive at Flaming Peaches HQ, the Big Green Egg, (a large ceramic barbecue and smoker) is already smouldering in the garden, pushing out tendrils of tantalising aromatic flavours that hint at the weekly evening menu Matt serves up at Eight Arch Brewery in Wimborne. All the meat is sourced from the renowned local butcher, Paul Keating, including beef from Paul’s herd of Devon Reds. The meats are gently smoked for at least 15 hours on either oak or applewood, prepared with Dorset charcoal.
With knives flashing, and watched closely by the salivating Oscar, Matt is busily preparing seasonal ingredients for his coleslaw. I get a delicious whiff of tangy spiciness as I step into the kitchen. “I’d like to go back to having menus spelt phonetically, without any of the confusing guff attached,” Matt declares as he conjures up mouth-watering images of baby courgettes tossed in butter, potatoes freshly dug from the garden with a rain-fresh mint garnish and home grown rosemary, thyme, artichokes, carrots and verdant runner beans. “I had a bit of an epiphany when I started to grow my own groceries in the garden; I started to feverishly cultivate anything and everything that I could,” he laughs.
You can’t help but feel his excitement and appetite as the self-confessed food junkie continues to eulogise. “Food that’s a few days’ old doesn’t have the same sex appeal as proper stuff that’s come straight from plot to plate. I wanted to show people what fresh really tastes like.
“Just because food is marketed as being local, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. It pays to be picky and to try out as many different flavours and suppliers as you can. It’s got to be produced correctly.”
A trip to Portugal at the tender age of 15 fired up Matt’s unquenchable enthusiasm for sourcing great local food. “I had a ham roll with a fresh, tightly skinned tomato inside. At that age I would never have tomato, I thought they were disgusting. But out there they tasted different… Having a tomato that good makes you think, ‘why on earth aren’t we using these all the time?’” he adds with a bewildered shrug.
Matt’s dream of selling home-grown, flavour packed food is now a delicious reality, and he is even considering starting a restaurant that echoes the same values and ethics that he has discovered on his culinary journey with Flaming Peaches. “I wouldn’t want it to be too expensive though, and I’d still have a couple of vans moving on the streets.”
I wonder, tentatively, if there is any ingredient that he couldn’t do without. “Pork fat!” He says emphatically and without any hesitation. “The amount of things you can do with pork fat is frankly amazing; pastry, spuds, butter, just tasting the crackling on its own sends me into ecstasy. If there was no fat in the world, life would be terribly boring.”
Matt’s cooking breathes new life into familiar foods, and his passion for bringing a party spirit to proceedings is indubitable. “It’s what gets me out of bed in the mornings. I want to try something different and exciting, to give people something really delicious. I want us all to be buzzing about food.”
I don’t need convincing, I am converted! Just spending time with Matt shows me that reengagement with seasonal, fresh food is more than possible. And when its presented in such glowing, enterprising terms, it is truly irresistible.
Treat your taste buds
Taste Matt’s food revolution every Friday at Eight Arch Brewery from 4 – 8pm on the Stone Lane Industrial Estate Wimborne Minster.
You can also enjoy Wimborne’s hottest street food scene at Flaming Peaches’ Social Suppers held at The Old Squash Court Café at Deans Court. The informal sharing dining experience features a set menu of homemade focaccia and three starters presented on big wooden boards for your table to share. The main course features platters of slow cooked meats from Matt’s Big Green Egg. Cost is £36 per person (BYO drinks). These are popular events so booking is strongly advised. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07738 273049. More at flaming-peaches.com.