A passion for matters culinary has provided a common thread throughout former chef Simon Stoke’s career.
But a hankering for a new direction saw him step out of the kitchen and into the market-place – literally.
The former pupil of Garstang High and Nateby Primary schools has recently expanded his business – opening a Tastes and Flavours delicatessen at The Barn, Scorton.
It follows on from the success of his Poulton market stall.
Simon set up store in The Barn in October last year, selling a selection of cheese and fine foods from his specialist delicatessen.
His career has already seen him working at a range of well-known local venues.
Starting with an apprenticeship at The Crofters, he then worked at Garstang Golf Club, Lancaster House and, finally, was the second chef at The Roebuck at Bilsborrow for some seven years.
“I was a chef for 15 years and wanted to get out of the kitchens, but still carry on working with the food,” said Simon.
“I felt I wanted to do something more for myself, but totally different – and I still enjoyed working with the food.”
He first opened a Tastes and Flavours deli in an indoor unit at Poulton market last June.
Explaining why he had chosen to locate his new enterprise in Scorton, he said: “It’s such a nice area and always very popular.”
He was also attracted by the reputation of The Barn, which attracts discerning visitors for the food served in its cafe/restaurant and for its wide range of gifts and plants.
Simon’s launch ranges included a selection of local cheeses, complemented by carefully selected ranges of products including olives, biscuits, crackers, bread, chutneys, dressings and baking ingredients:
“All the cheeses are local – that’s most important ... and I’ve products from small independent retailers. We will be getting continental cooked meats, black pudding and chorizo in the next couple of weeks.”
His father, Peter, has taken over running the Poulton stall, whilst Simon concentrates on building up the Scorton business, which is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Meanwhile, The Barn is also open on Monday.
Simon, who has lived in Garstang all his life, was brought up on Derbyshire Avenue. Home is now the Co-op cottage.
At the age of 30 he could have started his own deli empire... but stresses that for the moment he is concentrating on Scorton.
“I’ve not thought that far ahead. I’m just quite happy to open this one at the moment,” he said.
“It’s going well. We had a good run-up to Christmas and we’re waiting for a nice early spring.”
But as for the future, he concedes: “I would love a little shop in an area like Garstang.”