My Neighbourhood | Theo Michaels on Harpenden

Theo Michaels Image: Richard Hughes

BBC Masterchef semi finalist Theo Michaels, shares his favourite local gems in his home town of Harpenden in Hertfordshire…

HOME IS…
My wife and I used to live in Crouch End in London and one day visited some friends in a little town I’d never heard of called Harpenden. A year later we bought a place down the road! That was eight years ago and we’ve now populated our house with our three children.

WORK IS…
After reaching the semi-finals of Masterchef in 2014 I hung up my suit and now work full time as a private chef, pop-up restaurateur and, later this summer will officially become a published author.  I do private dining events; pop-up restaurant nights (and the occasional cooking class) all in Harpenden and the surrounding villages. I’ve been amazed by how supportive the local community have been. I also donate some private dining vouchers to the local schools and charities to help them raise money when I can.  Last year I cooked a five-course meal for 40 guests for the Harpenden Mayor’s Charity Dinner – the money raised went to building a new play area for the local kids, which is cool as mine love climbing all over it! Apart from that it’s a busy year ahead with my blog, showcasing more and more delicious recipes and the launch of my new rotisserie BBQ.
TheoCooks BBQ

FAVOURITE PLACE TO SPEND A RELAXING SUNDAY…
There’s a lovely wooded area called Nomansland Common which is full of fallen trees, dens, open fields and is basically a kids’ paradise. It has the added benefit of being on the doorstep of the Wicked Lady Pub that serves great food and cold beer, so you could say it’s a day out that the whole family enjoy.

 MOST MEMORABLE MEAL I’VE HAD LOCALLY...
We’re lucky to have a lot of independent eateries in Harpenden. The kids love to walk down to Jays Delicatessen on Southdown Road for a hot chocolate and a great coffee (not for the kids!) For a hearty Greek style lunch, the Silver Palate in Vaughan Road is perfect, or we’ll pop into Okka Café and Restaurant on the High Street for their chorizo special breakfast.

Silver Palate, Harpenden

Silver Palate, Harpenden

O’livio’s in Wheathamsptead

O’livio’s in Wheathamsptead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAVOURITE PLACE FOR A NIGHT OUT WITH FRIENDS..
For delicious food, fine wine and a real buzz, O’livio’s in Wheathamsptead is ideal- although you need to book early!

FAVOURITE SPOT FOR SOME RETAIL THERAPY…
There’s a cool little pop-up shop called 8& on Leyton Road that has different independent retailers using the premises for a few days, before another takes over. It’s had everything from vintage Lego to art exhibitions even sandals! You never know what you’ll find – although it was awkward when I wandered in and suddenly realised it was ladies’ underwear day!

BEST PLACE FOR A NIGHTCAP
Nightcap? My God, I’ve got three children under seven, I’m not allowed out!

 FAVOURITE LOCAL DISCOVERY…
For years I kept spotting random fluorescent arrows on the streets of Harpenden and had no idea what they were. That was until a local artist and friend Anna Perlin, told me it was an art trail where local artists- be it painters or sculptors (or anything else for that matter) – put a sign on their door to show they have an open house. I love taking a walk, spotting a sign, ringing the doorbell and meeting the artist and seeing what they do!

 BEST SPOT FOR A FAMILY DAY OUT…
Heartwood Forest. This is a hidden gem and, during bluebell season, the entire floor of the woods is covered in a blue blanket of flowers. If you live in Harpenden and have children you’re bound to have a photo in your house of your kids sitting in the middle of a carpet of bluebells!
Heartwood Forest BluebellsHeartwoodSign_Small

To find out more about Theo, his new BBQs or even to get notified of when you can buy his new cookbook visit TheoCooks.com, subscribe to his mailing list and also discover a ton of great recipes!  

Would you like to shout about what makes your neighbourhood great? If you would like to be featured, email us at info@exclusivemagazines.co.uk 

Featured image: Richard Hughes

 

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