Leeds restaurants: Meet the owner of Garforth's 450 Degrees who left sales to launch thriving pizzeria
When Danny Cairns left the sales industry to launch his own food business, pizza was never on the agenda.
Now the co-owner of the thriving 450 Degrees pizzeria in Garforth, Danny's wood-fired pizzas are a hit with customers in his hometown and beyond.
So how did Danny's first venture into the food industry, and pizza, turn into such a success?
His culinary journey began from humble beginnings, cooking with his grandmother who raised him.
“It was just the basics," Danny told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"Stews, helping out with Sunday dinners - but that sparked the ignition for my love of cooking.”
After being made redundant five years ago, Danny made a leap into the unknown with his wife Lindsay; they originally planned to open a food truck to cater for events and food festivals.
But when the premises of an old pool centre came up for sale, which Danny frequented as a youth, they knew it was an opportunity they couldn't turn down.
Opening 450 Degrees in 2018, the pair have led the way in the regeneration of Garforth's Main Street.
“Pizza was never on the radar at first," Danny, 44, added.
"I found a guy who supplied pizza restaurants in the south and I ended up getting a mentorship from him. He showed me how to make pizzas, sourced a mini-oven from Italy and gave me a lot of his time to help me set up.
“He helped me to choose the right ingredients and products and it snowballed from there.”
Now something of a pizza connoisseur, Danny humbly insists he isn't a chef.
But he's the mastermind behind 450 Degrees' Neapolitan pizzas, topped with a range of ingredients from the classic ham, mushroom and peppers to the more adventurous Cheeky Pig with sliced pig cheek and mozzarella.
Danny said: “People love the vibe we created, as well as the authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
“It’s a very relaxed and social atmosphere with a good playlist; just very friendly. That’s what we wanted to create, a nice social hangout for locals in Garforth to chill out and have a good pizza.
"We do a few specials and over lockdown I made a chicken tikka masala pizza and a deconstructed cheeseburger pizza, which were pretty popular. But I try to keep the menu as authentic to Italian as possible.
"With the English palette, we do have people come in and ask for pineapple - but I’m not putting pineapple on pizza!"
Danny kept the business afloat during lockdowns with takeaway pizzas, but the pizzeria is now full of life again.
Garforth could be the next Chapel Allerton, Danny insists, and a flurry of independent businesses are springing up in the area - including his own bar and sandwich shop in the town.
“It’s definitely getting busier again," Danny added.
"Garforth is growing in terms of population and housing, lots of young professionals are moving to the area for schools, public transport and accessibility.
"The housing structure is growing, so the amenities need to grow with it. It’s becoming a very lively town and it’s getting back to how it was pre-pandemic, which is good to see."
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