AN ENTERPRISING couple have come up with a new business they hope will give their customers food for thought.
Island-born Ben Brooker and his Polish partner Elizabeth Pietkun aim to bring freshly made-to-order food directly to office desks.
It’s the latest departure for the pair who already run a popular kiosk on Douglas seafront.
Ben, 28, is a qualified tree surgeon. Now he hopes to be climbing the career ladder instead of clambering up wooded areas with a chainsaw.
And Elizabeth, 34, is the culinary brains behind the new enterprise found on the website befood.co.uk
Elizabeth, who is expecting the couple’s first baby next March, devises the recipes while Ben says he organises the logistics of the business.
Ben, whose family are from Andreas, said: ‘On our travels round the world we have picked up flavours and ideas that have moulded the way we cook and eat.’
Elizabeth said she incorporated much of what she had learned from growing up in Poland to the menus she creates.
The couple know they are entering a world where there is plenty of competition in the island particularly in satisfying the hungry business community. But Ben said: ‘I like to think we are offering something a little bit different.’
Be Food has been going for around six weeks and already Ben says they are breaking even and have received glowing praise from customers. They have deliberately started on a small scale, initially delivering on a Friday lunchtime. Customers can look at that week’s menu during the week and register what they want to receive, placing their order by 1pm on Thursday. Every week they come up with a soup, two sandwiches and a salad. Last week’s selections for instance included creamy potato and cheese soup. There was also a turkey crunch sandwich and a roast peppers and goats cheese sandwich. The selected salad was chicken pasta.
The menu changes every week and Elizabeth usually puts her thinking cap on on a Sunday to come up with the next creation.
She said she learned a lot from her mother back home in Poland.
All their food is prepared in a registered commercial kitchen and the couple say they are enjoying the challenge.
Ben first met Elizabeth when he popped in to a hair salon where she used to work.
‘She cut my hair and things went from there,’ he said.
The couple are very busy and Ben said the island is an ideal place in which to start up businesses.
As well as running the kiosk and the Be Food enterprise he is still a self employed tree surgeon and Elizabeth is a self employed hairdresser.
Former Ramsey Grammar School pupil Ben, who was originally destined for a life in the services, said he was glad he chose tree surgery instead. He studied it in college and spent some time working with Douglas Corporation.
He said: ‘I specialised in climbing trees with a chainsaw and getting in tight spots. It’s a risky job but I was never injured. I heard that in Britain it’s about the fourth most dangerous job after trawlermen, forestry work and the guys who put cones out on the motorways.’
Ben and Elizabeth took a new direction after briefly leaving the island with the intention of living and working in New Zealand. But it soon became apparent that it was not going to work so they returned to the island to pursue their dreams.
Last April they won the tender to operate the kiosk on the promenade for three years. Ben said they saw it as a ‘stepping stone’ into the new business they have created.
Ben admitted: ‘Because I have been self employed for so long and I’ve experienced a lot of different things it would be very hard to be in a nine to five job.’ On the Be Food website which Ben built from scratch, he explains: ‘I’m a Manx lad brought up on mince ‘n’ spuds, Sunday roasts and apple crumble. I believe that good meals come from fresh and simple ingredients. I’m passionate about sourcing Manx produce where possible and want nothing more than to bring good honest food to you good honest people.’