'Still going strong' - from private continental chef to Chorley pizza chef
Many have undergone or considered a career change during the pandemic but one Chorley man has created a successful business from his back garden.
Joe Sullivan, 29, started Dough Boy pizzas from his back garden in Hoghton last year after leaving his day job behind in the nick of time.
The trained chef was working in France when he saw what was to come ahead of lockdown last year.
He decided to quickly return to the UK before he became stuck in the country but, during lockdown, work dried up and he found himself 'twiddling his thumbs'.
"I was working in France and had to come home with what was going on," said Joe aka 'Dough Boy'.
"I was sat at home twiddling my thumbs and decided to set my own business up."
Armed with nothing more than a tent donated by his previous employer, an oven and his cheffing skills, Joe started a lockdown pizza business.
Within two weeks, he had 600 fans on Facebook and was busy cooking pizzas for customers to pick up through a 'click and collect' system - he now has over 3,000 Facebook followers.
“Covid has made me as a business really,” he said, “I am a fully qualified chef and I had nothing to do during lockdown.
“I was working at ski resorts, chalets and as a private chef but I had to come home. I couldn’t even get a job in a pub because they weren’t even open.
“So I bought a little pizza oven and here we are, still going strong.”
Now his lockdown business is thriving and he has gone from serving pizzas from a tent in his back garden to kitting out a horse box with pizza ovens to serve his customers.
“I’ve been in the horsebox since the start of this year and I have loads of events booked for the summer," Joe said.
“I even have bookings for next summer!"
The young business owner believes that outdoor food is ‘the way to go’ following Covid and - with the relaxation of restrictions - Joe had to make sure he could compete with pubs and restaurants reopening.
“Everyone wanted to go out and I understand that so I’m now working with a cocktail venue,” he said.
“They have a big outdoor seating area so I will be parking up on Fridays to see how it goes."
One of the motivations behind leaving his cheffing career in France was his family.
Joe’s grandfather, David Jackson, has dementia and is a resident at the Four Seasons care home in Bolton.
“My gran has been able to go and see him now,” Joe said, “Obviously it’s not ideal and he doesn’t really know what’s going on but things are starting to look up with visits.”
The newly-made businessman is also keen to give back to the community- he previously cooked free pizza for NHS and care workers and worked with his old primary school to run a pizza competition.
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