The world according to Jack Wakelin

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

04 November 2019

Public’s Jack Wakelin talks to Kate Malczewski about disastrous custard tarts, cultivating a zero-waste ethos and managing life in a public toilet


I went to study architecture in Leeds and was there for three years. There was always that creative thing in me somewhere, but architecture wasn’t for me.

My favourite collaboration is the one we did with our local curry house Ashoka. We decided to do it in July. God knows why, it was so hot. The owner of Ashoka gave our head chef loads of his old family recipes so we could do our own takes on them. The food was super spicy and, looking around at everyone’s faces, they were bright red with sweat.

I love walking the dog. Sheffield is just 10, 15 minutes away from the Peak District, where there’s no phone signal. It’s nice just going out and switching off for three or four hours.

[When we first opened Public in a disused public toilet,] people were a bit grossed out, asking ‘have the walls been washed?’ You still get the odd person who comes in asking if we serve piss from the taps, but Sheffield has taken it on really well.

A little plate of anchovies is my favourite bar snack. The saltiness just makes you want to drink more.

At the minute, I’m reading Douglas McMaster’s new book [Silo: The Zero Waste Blueprint]. This whole zero-waste, closed-loop idea is really exciting me: crossing over and taking ingredients from the kitchen, and the kitchen taking waste from us.

Out of the drinks I’ve created, my favourite has to be the Queen of Jalisco, based around a chicory root and lovage dessert I had at https://www.blackswanoldstead.co.uk/ in Oldstead. It has lovage, chicory root and tapatio tequila, with a little bit of hazelnut syrup in there. It’s so complex, and every time you drink it, it changes.

I’m quite a keen cook, but I had an attempt at making a custard tart back in the day that went awfully wrong. I was like, 'I’ll stick some Lagavulin in and it’ll be absolutely fine; a smoky whisky custard, right?’ It was awful.

Dry ice in drinks bothers me. I like the drink to speak for itself, without extravagant garnishes. 

Garibaldis really are a great hangover cure – just Campari topped with orange juice. I visited Dante in New York City and had one there – I’ve been making them ever since.

I love the outdoors, but I can’t do camping anymore. I think it comes from when I was younger, going to music festivals and waking up hungover in a hot tent. I should try to go camping and not drink, but having a few whiskies round the fire is the best part.

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