Andy Gavins: I love my job and my scooter

Andy Gavins.
Andy Gavins.
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Andy Gavins is an award-winning food trader and a chef - and a Mod in his spare time. Jayne Dawson reports.

Andy Gavins, 36, runs Yorkshire Delicious in Morley Market and most of his produce comes from within a 20 mile radius of Leeds. He was recently voted the town’s Sole Trader of the Year. He lives in Tingley with his partner Anita.

My first job was working on a fruit and veg stall in Leeds Market when I was 15. I had two paper rounds on the go as well.

The best advice I ever received was from one of my college lecturers, who said never trust a skinny chef. I’m a chef and my mum was a head chef, let’s just say we are all big boned in my family.

I wanted to be a sweets chef but I discovered I couldn’t do with all the faffing. Baking is a science, so I went into cheffing with is more about using your own flair. I have a lot of respect for bakers though.

My guilty pleasure? A chocolate eclair or a creme brulee. if they are in the fridge they don’t stay there long. A brulee is a good test of a restaurant, it’s so easy to turn it into sweet scrambled egg. The topping has to be done with a bunsen burner too, never under the grill.

My pet hate is hypocrisy. I am one of those people who tells it like it is, I get that from my mum.

The person I would most like to meet is Keith Moon. I would love to have had one night partying with him, although it would probably have turned into a week. I love the Mod scene. I have a Vespa in Union Jack colours and we go to scooter rallies a couple of times a year.

I would tell my teenage self to stay away from redheads, which is all I really want to say on that one.

I was a chef for twenty years, and then I fancied being out in front, so I set up my stall in Morley Market eighteen months ago and it is doing well. I sell eighty five per cent local produce - pickles from Birstall, oils from Wetherby and lots of other things. I make a point of buying from other small traders and I make my own food as well, I do a lot of vegetable sauces so customers can add their own meat to them.

I run a cookery school in the market too. I have had a kitchen built in there so I can teach adults and children. With the children we cook the food they like, but we make it ourselves from scratch, so burgers will be decent meat with their own flavourings added and chips will be made from sweet potatoes. I want them to learn about nutrition and cooking, it’s a staple of life. I teach adults to restaurant standard.

With the cooking, the scooter and the lessons for children, I sound like the northern Jamie Oliver. People say that to me, but this is just who I am.

My philosophy of life is to work hard and play harder.The first three years of a business is all about work so we don’t get that much free time, but we do okay. Everyone needs to let their hair down.

Anita works with me and she makes the stall look good, she does arts and crafts and has more style than I do.

I couldn’t live without family. My daughter Allanya is ten and she comes and helps me sometimes, she is the one who gives out free tasters to people.

The last time I cried was when I won the business award. It meant a lot to me. Ed Balls was there and he said my speech was the best of the night.

Here’s my joke. Why don’t you ever see a hippo hiding in a tree? Because they are very good at it.

I had to ask around the market for that. No one ever knows a clean joke.

It might surprise people to know that I am good at sewing, even though I look like a rugby player. When I was a kid I would customise my own clothes. I once sewed beer towels onto my jeans. They were much admired.

The closest I have ever come to death was in a motorbike accident. I was overtaking a bus, collided with a taxi and flipped over the handlebars. On the ground I saw the bus about to run me over and had to roll myself out of the way. I walked away with only an oil stain on my jacket, I have no idea how.

My childhood was good. My dad worked abroad a lot and we would fly out to see him . As a kid I spent Christmases in India, Russia and Bahrain.

My first kiss was with Claire when I was about seven. Me and another boy called Andy used to fight over her. The next year she moved to Scotland and broke my heart.

The first record I ever bought was Stand and Deliver by Adam and the Ants. There is a picture of me with Ant-style stripes on my face, using her makeup.

I like Leeds because I think the people are the most welcoming in England, I have lived down south and I really believe that.

The Leeds artist so allergic to the materials he uses, he has been hospitalised twice