Mick Fox of UltraSharp Knife Solutions:
"I’m really struggling to believe that it is less than twelve months ago that I was sat in the back of the van, sharpening yet another knife for yet another chef, when the little bloke that constantly chats away to me in my head threw a grenade my way...
With all the connections you have in kitchens across the North of our fine country, why don’t you ask a selection for a recipe, put them in a little book, and sell them for charity ... in fact, why not get 365 of them and have a different one for every day of the year using seasonal produce?
A quick glance to my right, and I’ve spotted a diary, bought for me by the missus, gathering dust and free from any sign of ink. I started out on my journey around my clients, asking for recipe donations, originally using a selection process to pre-determine which chef was given which date.
”When’s thi Birthday chef?”... “I’ll put thi’ darn for t’eighth of June then”
“When’s thi Birthday chef?” ... ”Sorry pal, that’s gone. When’s your lass’s?”
After a few days, and several BIC pens later, I put a little tweet out on Twitter asking if any chefs would be interested in submitting a recipe for a cook book supporting 2 charities local to Sheffield, and very close to my heart. Little did I know at the time, onw of which would be instrumental in giving my own mother the gift of a few more years on this earth.
Within hours, there was a large snowball of chef whites heading my way, all offering their support; many offering to put me in touch with their mate down South; their mate in Australia, Scotland, etc.
I then approached a bloke that I had briefly got to know by dragging myself out of bed at 6am on a Friday morning to attend various business networking meetings. A bloke that always had a glint in his eye. A bloke that made me laugh. A bloke that took the most amazing photos that I had seen. A bloke that I trusted implicitly. A bloke that had several things in common with me. A bloke that I am honoured to call a friend ... Stephen Saville – ‘the best dressed bloke in Wakefield’.
‘Sav’ generously agreed to shoot any dish within the scopes of my client base free of charge, as long as he didn’t have to drive there in his own motor, obviously using his own fuel. Absolute no brainer!
The following weeks and months were spent, and are continuing to be spent, tweeting, sending emails, gathering recipes, watching Sav, laughing with Sav, listening to Sav’s stories, jokes, troubles, jokes, plans, jokes, worries, jokes ... and loving every moment!
We then had to try and find a publisher. What did an ex-bricklaying-knife-sharpener from Sheffield know about book publishing? Not a sausage. But I did know lots of people, so I started to ask questions. One name in particular was recommended in virtually every kitchen I visited – Paul Cocker.
Sav and I arranged to meet with Paul, who had just started his very own new venture – Meze Publishing – and immediately knew that our search for someone to publish this book (that wasn’t even written yet) was over. Unfortunately, Paul supported a
shocking football team – but was on-board.
I think it was around May 2013 that I was having another chat with that bloke in my head, in the back of my van, sharpening yet another knife for yet another chef, when another hand grenade was launched my way – why not launch an eBook, to fund the larger printed version, featuring a few of the recipes from the book?... let’s say around a dozen, one for each month, just like a Tasting Menu in a restaurant, and people can download it from a website. It can’t be that hard to do, and it shouldn’t cost a deal.
In fact, after a few phone calls, it didn’t cost a penny. Enter Mike Teare from Abbeydale Associates, a web design company in Sheffield. I’d known Mike and his wife Jeanette for a couple of years, again through the local networking scene. Mike generously agreed to build the website free of charge.
At this stage, I created two very large problems for myself.
Problem 1: How do you pick 12 dishes from 365 recipes/chefs?
Solution 1: Very, very difficult decision, but made easier by the fact that I needed to move quick with this, so the choice was made only from the recipes already received. The good thing was that several of the chefs that had really gone out of their way for the project, recruiting other chefs for us, had already sent their recipes and had their dishes photographed.
Problem 2: The project, in my opinion, needed to introduce a 3rd charity to support, one that was recognised as a national charity rather than our two local ones.
Solution 2: Again, a very difficult decision. I had originally stated that a national charity that supports British Soldiers was to be one of our chosen charities, but for reasons that I won’t go into, I decided to support another – one that not only wanted, but most importantly needed our support.
The three wonderful charities that this project is proud to support are:-
Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity
St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield
Scotty’s Little Soldiers
As mentioned previously, Sav and I are currently laughing, joking and touring, collecting recipes for the main 365 CookBook, a 768-page recipe collection, featuring chefs from around the world. We are at the very beginning of a long road – just where it will end, no one on this earth knows.
Least of all, the little man that I chat to, in the back of my van".
Thank you for your support.
Mick Fox & Stephen Saville