At last! A breakfast chat, which might actually include a real breakfast! And what a fabulous breakfast it would be too. Please welcome this week’s guest to chat about healthy eating, networking and delivering excellent Customer Service, Jay Halford, Chef and Owner of NR Social Cheltenham.
Jay Halford is a professional chef who is on a mission to educate and inspire others to feed their bodies with healthy, 100% natural and nutritious foods. He says, ‘For me, food is all about nourishment and giving people the knowledge they may not have access to so easily. I’m not a nutritionist, by any means but I am a chef, a chef that can show you how to make amazingly tasty food that you will enjoy making and your customers will love eating.’ I couldn’t wait to find out more, as I do love to cook but just tend to stick to my usual signature dishes.
With regard to healthy eating, Jay says, ‘Diet fads will always come and go, but one thing always remains the same – natural, live fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will always be good for us. There has been a massive boom in ‘plant-based eating’ and following a vegan lifestyle and it is easy to presume that both are the same, but they are not.’ Agreed, this is common misconception.
Jay found it difficult to pinpoint a particular favourite recipe of his own ‘As it always depends in what context because my favourite personally to make and my favourite to teach people are always very different. If I am trying to wow people, show off a little and prove that a healthy, unrefined, sugar free, gluten free thing can taste out of this world then I will of course make them this awesome Banoffee Cheesecake featured here on my website.’ Well, it’s definitely a wow from me! Wonder if I could have it for breakfast?
Jay says that if he’s ‘Trying to give people something super easy, cheap and effective that they are likely to make at home then i will always hit them with my Raw Tacos, also featured here on the website.’ Again this sounds just amazing. Another one for my must-try list!
I first met Jay a few months ago when he created the new work/meet/eat and drink networking space in Cheltenham, NR Social. I asked Jay to tell me more about where the idea came about . ‘The creation of NR social was an idea between me and my good friend Ben Lakin (owner of No Regrets tattoo studio). Ben approached me to set up and run the space with a vision of bringing creatives together in a space that will also being fun and creative. Ben has a great vision for design and his attention to detail is insane. The idea was that the space would really lend itself to the type of people we wanted to appeal to and attract to NR and created a community that’s a little bit different and help inspire and connect them.’ In my opinion, Ben and Jay have done an amazing job. NR Social is a very impressive working space and I for one am going to be a regular.
Jay’s first ever job was actually what inspired him to want to cook and be a chef. He was a potash and occasional waiter in a Italian restaurant for a chef called Gianni who Jay says ‘Was a nutter’ but he ‘Loved the creative freedom of cooking and knew very quickly that it was what I wanted from my work. I loved his passion and the satisfaction that he got from cooking and that to this day is still right at the front for me when I am working.’
As for the worst job Jay ever had, he says it was ‘Packing Christmas Hampers in a huge factory while I was travelling Australia. It was in Melbourne and I got fired on the last week of the 3-month contract because I was eating the product’ but it was ‘Worth it!’
Jay says the best parts of his current job are ‘Meeting awesome new people and being surrounded by them, serving great food, the coffee at NR as it’s just 100% and teaching people a better way to live and eat.’ As for the worst, Jay says he ‘Can’t think of anything i don’t love’ except ‘When Jen at NR tells me I can’t have a coffee because they have turned the machine off – bad times!’ That would probably be similar to my trauma when I realise that time has been called at the bar before I get my final wine order in.
With regard to excellent Customer Service, Jay says he is a ‘Huge believer in creating the overall customer experience. I don’t think Customer Service should be just one thing. I think the customer need to know and remember the whole experience of something. So from the word go when they first come across NR Social to be invited in for a tour, to the coffee they drink on that tour, to signing up, to coming in everyday i believe that their experience the on the whole journey should be made memorable and amazing for them so they really remember and trust the product that they have brought into and that product should keep on giving to them. That is real customer experience.’ Couldn’t agree more Jay and from what I’ve seen so far, you’re absolutely nailing it.
In 10 years time, Jay has ‘Absolutely no idea!’ where he will be. ‘Up until now I have always lived very day-to-day and not really planned too much. With NR Social, I really hope to create a great network and community of people that we can expand on and take our membership offering to new and exciting places.’
As you know my word of this year is ‘inspired,’ hence all my amazing breakfast chats and I was interested to find out about Jay’s own inspirations. This was his response: ‘My Son and girlfriend inspire me every single day to be better and live as beautifully as possible to help people, the environment and just be the best we can be.’ Aw, I just love it, almost melted.
Last but by no means least, Jay’s breakfast of choice is ‘Green Juice, black coffee and Buckwheat and Cinnamon Pancakes or Avocado on toast.’ This would be my absolute dream breakfast- albeit maybe not served together and trying the green juice would require a bit of encouragement! In the absence of moi as a choice breakfast companion, it would ‘Have to be Tony Robbins or Russell Brand.’ These two gents would no doubt make for entertaining breakfasts but am sure that I would provide just as many laughs, albeit unintentionally!
It has been lovely to chat to Jay today. If you’d like to find out more about what NR Social has to offer then there’s lots of useful information on the NR Social website and you can also become a member by clicking on this direct link. NR Social can also be found on Instagram and Facebook and you can find out all about Jay as a chef via his own healthy eating website as well as Instagram and Twitter.
Until next time everyone! I think I’m going to find it very hard to top this breakfast!
Lady Janey x