Chef’s Dish: Lesley Draper talks to chef Dave Neville

Chef Dave Neville outside the Smith Street Coffee Roasting base

Chef Dave Neville outside the Smith Street Coffee Roasting base

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Young David Neville had no idea what his future would hold, but one thing he did know was that he loved the TV show Floyd on France…

“It’s still the best cooking show ever made – and the reason a 16-year-old who didn’t know what to do with his life ended up cooking,” says the man who is now a respected chef in his own right.

Coffee beans in the roaster at Smith Street Coffee

Coffee beans in the roaster at Smith Street Coffee

Dave trained at Castle College and later went on to gain an honours degree in food marketing management, but however he applies the skills, he’s always had a way with food.

“I worked for Tessa Bramley for year at the Michelin-starred Old Vicarage. I just turned up and asked if I could work in the kitchen for the day, then kept going back,” he says.

“It was my finishing school. Everything was done in the classical manner – a really great place to eat and work.”

That led to work as a food technologist, working with a string of household names in the industry.

Coffee granita �' as served by Smith Street Roasters

Coffee granita �' as served by Smith Street Roasters

It also led to El Toro, the Spanish tapas bar he ran in Broomhill with brother Trevor: “I always wanted my own restaurant and I love the interaction of tapas-style eating… the enjoyment of a few dishes that are shared over a couple of glasses of wine.

“When we opened El Toro, Sheffield didn’t really have a tapas bar. I thought it was a gap in the market and I love the Broomhill area with its community spirit and eclectic mix of people.”

It proved an immediate hit – and, five years on, continues under new owners, while Dave and Trevor turn their focus to a new challenge.

Smith Street Roasters was launched after Dave visited Australia and discovered coffee on a different level: “Small, independent shops were offering high quality origin coffee with tasting notes much like wine. I was hooked,” he says.

Chef Dave Neville enjoys his most memorable meal ever, in Marrakech

Chef Dave Neville enjoys his most memorable meal ever, in Marrakech

The brothers invested in a custom-built Giesen roasting machine and set up their new business, named after the area of Melbourne where Dave had first discovered origin coffee.

Smith Street now roasts twice a week, selling its specialist coffee via an online shop (www.smithstreetcoffeeroasters.co.uk), through a number of specialist outlets and at key regional events.

Meanwhile, Dave continues to exercise his foodie flair as a freelance developer, creating desserts, sushi, sandwiches and cakes for companies including M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

His chosen signature dish, coffee granita, combines both aspects of his work: “It tastes great, it looks great and you can’t buy it in the shops.

Smith Street Coffee Roasters

Smith Street Coffee Roasters

“I’ve also included a recipe for shortbread – it’s my take on coffee and biscuits but with a little twist.”

Recipe by: David Neville

Coffee granita & shortbread

INGREDIENTS: GRANITA

(serves 4)

600ml hot single origin coffee (I used Smith Street Mutitu Kenyan)

120g caster sugar

50ml whipping cream

SHORTBREAD

(makes 20)

125g butter unsalted

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour

METHOD: GRANITA

Add sugar to coffee and stir to dissolve.

Place to a shallow dish and allow to cool.

Once cool put the dish into the freezer and leave for 40mins.

Take out the mixture and break up with a fork, then return to freezer and freeze again for 20 mins. Repeat this process once more.

Simply spoon the mixture into serving glasses and top with whipped cream.

SHORTBREAD

Pre-heat oven to 190ºC

Cream butter and the sugar until smooth.

Add flour and mix to form a paste.

Turn on to a work surface, roll into a ball then roll out into circles.

Place on a baking tray, mark into segments and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Place in fridge for 20 mins.

Bake in the oven for 15 mins until golden brown.

Serve with coffee granita.