Fusing cooking with chemistry – Peter Naylor (Former CHS Teacher)

Foodie and former teacher Peter tells us how he combined his love for cooking and experience as a chemistry teacher to create TheFoodLab, offering unique cooking lessons in Manchester.

Job title: “I don’t really have a job title, as it’s just me so I do everything required!”

What’s your typical day like?

“On the day of an event I will spend my time preparing the dishes for that particular event, generally this will involve some ‘smoking’ on the BBQ, a little baking, other fish and meat prep, making a sorbet or some ice cream, just lots of stuff you’d expect to be going on in a top kitchen!”

What do you love most about the job?

“I just love cooking anyway, so it’s all enjoyable, but delivering the events, talking about the science behind the process and answering people’s questions is a big motivation for this whole venture. It has been the ‘theatre’ of teaching I have missed the most in the last two years, and TheFoodLab goes quite some way in filling this void.”

What is the most unusual thing you have done in the job?

“The ‘unusual things’ in this job are mainly consigned to the ‘bin of experience’ when trying to create new and interesting combinations for dishes or cocktails.”

How did you get into this career?

“I held a long standing desire to do something in life around food, and after my 50th year had been and gone, decided I’d better get on with it! I came very close to appearing on MasterChef, but failed to be selected at the final stage, I may apply for Professional MasterChef at some point in the future.”

What has been your proudest achievement in TheFoodLab?

“Since 2017 I have built TheFoodLab teaching kitchen in my basement, which now offers two cookery courses and three taster/demo events, as well as providing event catering and private chef options. I have only, and now over 50, 5 star reviews on the AirBnB Experiences page, and some clients who have already been back for the third time! As such I guess I am proud that I have managed to build a profitable business from scratch in under two years.”

What advice would you give someone starting a career like this?

“Most importantly really is that I backed myself to be a successful chef, it has been a steep learning curve, but a very enjoyable one. As a teacher I often talked about lifelong learning to my students, and encouraged them to always try new things. I’ve been practising what I preach, and it is great fun. So whatever path you choose, try and choose something that will continue to challenge you, whilst allowing you to develop and grow into ever better versions of your original self. You are all amazing individuals, but we live in a complex and ever more interconnected world. As you journey through it make a positive difference in all that you do.”

Read another Old Wac story here!

Peter Naylor