The name’s Big Mike – and he’s about to open a ‘fat kitchen’ in Nottingham selling delicious cheesecakes.
But if it hadn’t been for lockdown it might never have been on the cards.
Mike Jones would probably still be working as a service adviser for Audi – a job he’d been in for a year – but being furloughed gave him the opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen of his new home.
And the result has been Cheesecakes by Big Mike’s Fat Kitchen – mouth-watering desserts in a variety of flavours.
“I’ve always been called Mikey, ever since school but when I started at Audi there was another Mike in the workshop, a little bloke, so they referred to me as Big Mike,” said the 6ft 3in cheesecake supremo, who in three months has sold more than 500.
After doing a roaring trade through a home delivery service, he’s now taking it to the next level by opening his own shop selling slices, quarter, half and whole nine-inch cheesecakes in flavours such as Oreo cookies, Terry’s chocolate orange, lemon, strawberry and Milky Bar, and Reese’s peanut butter.
When lockdown hit, he began blogging photos of his breakfasts and dinners – from a sausage, bacon and egg bagel to a fancy sea bass risotto and Sunday roast.
“I had people asking where they could get my food from. I love breakfast but I didn’t want to cook anything hot to send out,” said the 30-year-old.
It’s hard to believe he’d never made a cheesecake before in his life until May. When he and partner Jess Graham moved from a flat in West Bridgford to a house in Bingham, they were given a collection of pots and pans, including a cake tin which Mike used to make a Kinder Bueno cheesecake.
Unable to get to the shops during lockdown to buy an electric whisk, he came up with a makeshift version of a hand whisk attached to an electric drill.
“Luckily I now have all the proper equipment,” said Mike, whose home kitchen hygiene rating has been given top marks by the local council.
It wasn’t long before he got adventurous – creating a colourful layered unicorn cheesecake for Jess’s birthday and with Father’s Day fast approaching in June, it was the ideal time to advertise his creations.
And that’s when it exploded, with people snapping up the £20 cheesecakes with eight to ten slices, convincing him he’s finally found his niche.
“It was crazy busy for Father’s Day. I thought I may sell a couple to friends and family but when I put it up (on social media) I ended up doing about 50.
“I didn’t really feel settled in work whatever I’d done. Before Audi I was general manager at the Funstation arcade in the Cornerhouse. I always wanted to do something for myself but never had the time to commit the effort it needs,” he added.
Mike, who had been furloughed until a month ago, has now quit his job at Audi, at Lenton Industrial Estate, and is pressing ahead with the shop, which he hopes to open by the end of October, at former butcher’s Bonds, in Carlton Hill.
Mental health advocate Jess will be helping on the business side, while he’s busy in the kitchen. The shop will also be serving coffee and milkshakes for eating in and takeaway.
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“I had eight different flavours to start with – now there’s 18. Chocolate orange and Biscoff are the most popular. I’m always dreaming up new flavours and ideas,” he said.
“I always knew I’d end up doing something with food but I thought maybe a cob shop or breakfast… or cheese. That’s my weakness. I’ve never really had a sweet tooth,” added Mike, who takes orders through his Facebook and Instagram pages.”
He’s also created a range of individual cheesecakes suitable for weddings and parties, once it’s safe for events again.