Chefs cook up four businesses in one
WHEN chefs Nick Eady and partner Jan Turner decided it was time to go out on their own, they went all out, and instead of creating just one business, they created four.
Together, the pair are both the brains and the brawn behind Tukka Time Catering which, as well as providing fresh meals to predominantly retirement homes, runs the Waterford Café at Kincumber's Waterford Retirement Village, carries out functions for community groups and retirement villages and, most recently, has added a range of smaller frozen meals called Jan's Gourmet Meals.
"We see the product from the start to the finish,” Nick said.
"We are very much hands-on - we take the orders; we do the cooking together.
"We are right there in the kitchen, so we know exactly what's going into each food tray, and I do the deliveries, so everyone knows who they are dealing with - it's really good personal customer service.”
Jan said the fact that the fresh menu changed weekly kept them both on their toes and interested.
"It can be quite stressful at times,” Jan admitted, "working and living together, but we both love cooking and, it's hard yakka but it gives us a good lifestyle and I really enjoy serving the customers.”
Nick did his training in the UK in the early 1980s, in hotels in the Midlands and a hospital in London before wandering the globe backpacking.
"I liked Australia so much, I came back,” he laughed.
That was about 24 years ago.
Starting out in Sydney, he worked at the ANA Hotel, Mona Vale Hospital and Spotless Catering before switching tack slightly and entering kitchen design. When Tarragal Glen and Manor Retirement Village at Erina needed kitchens for the serviced apartments, Nick was the man ... and the Central Coast became his new home.
With the building of Erina's Wood Glen Retirement Village in the early 2000s, Nick saw a business opportunity, leased the cafe and began cooking and delivering fresh meals to residents.
"When we started out we only had 10-15 customers,” Nick said.
"We hoped it would grow, but you never know. It was a big gamble on our part.”
A gamble that paid off so well that they outgrew their original kitchens and moved to Kincumber, and now deliver between 450 and 600 fresh meals and 100 frozen meals each week, as well as running the café four days a week and doing functions.
The meals are made on Tuesdays and Thursdays and delivered 'blast chilled' fresh, or frozen Wednesdays and Fridays from The Entrance to West Gosford and down to Woy Woy.
Nick said the secret to their success was "good old-fashioned flavours, with a bit of contemporary cooking thrown into the mix”.
He said it was that feeling of tradition that had inspired the name "Tukka Time”, with the Aussie term of "tucker” having taken his fancy way back when he first came to Australia.
"I wanted to make it have a real Australian feel about it - it's genuine home cooking, not a factory feel.
"These days a lot of customers hear the knock on the door and sing out 'It's tucker time' - it's something they relate to.”
To find out more, call Nick and Jan on 0414721357 or 0420969357, talk to them and try their meals at Waterford Café (weekdays except Wednesday), or go to www.tukkatimecatering.com.