Jamie Pagett, 28, founder of Redheads Mac 'N' Cheese.
Rebecca Wayman

Geordie entrepreneur spins classic US dish into something for the North East

A young entrepreneur schooled by the North East’s ‘most celebrated’ chef has launched his own business venture with his take on American cuisine for the people of Newcastle.

Jamie Pagett, 28, has drawn on his experience of 10 years working in top restaurants and time spent living in the USA to prepare mac ‘n’ cheese to customers from a pop-up stall on Newcastle’s Quayside market every Sunday.

His business, Redheads Mac ‘N’ Cheese, followed Jamie’s learning and refining of his culinary skills under the tutelage of renowned North East chef and restaurateur, Terry Laybourne.

Jamie said: “I lived in California as a child, did the whole American yellow bus thing to school and when I was out there I got a real taste for mac ‘n’ cheese which everybody loves.

“That’s where I got my idea for the business. I knew that people in the North East would love mac ‘n’ cheese the way the Americans do.

“The beauty of mac ‘n’ cheese is that it goes so well with so many other ingredients and the feedback I’m getting from the public is that they love the opportunity to taste a little bit of New York city on the banks of the Tyne.”

As chef de partie at Mr Laybourne’s Porterhouse Butcher and Grill and Saltwater Fish Company in Fenwick’s Food Hall, Jamie is a valued member of the kitchen team.

He is now employing those skills to put his own twist on the iconic US dish of macaroni cheese - a perennial favourite across American society from President Thomas Jefferson in the 19th century to modern commuters buying lunch.

Jamie spends six hours every Saturday preparing ingredients for his eight-hour Sunday shift serving hungry customers at the ever-popular Sunday market.

He recognises the part Mr Laybourne and Porterhouse head chef Chris Eagle have played in helping him start his own business, continuing working for them four days a week while pursuing his business venture.

The ultimate goal is to eventually open his own mac ‘n’ cheese café in Newcastle.

He concluded: “I know I’m learning from the best chefs in the North East and if I can take just one per cent of what I’ve learned from them and apply it to my business, then I know I’ve got a good chance of making it a success.”

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