One of Newcastle’s most-celebrated restaurants has reached a milestone birthday.
Peace & Loaf – on Jesmond Road, Jesmond – opened its doors in the first week of November 2013, with chef-patron Dave Coulson launching his first restaurant after reaching the final of Masterchef: The Professionals.
Dave – supported throughout by his business partner, acclaimed Newcastle restaurateur Bob Arora – has gone on to win high praise for his menus of local produce cooked in his unique style.
“Starting out as a 27-year-old lad who could cook a bit, but had never run a business, I had no idea where we’d get to,” said Dave on opening Peace & Loaf. “There have been lots of highs and plenty of challenges and changes to overcome, but I’m extremely proud of what Peace & Loaf has become and the place we’ve carved out for ourselves in the North East’s food landscape.”
As well as finding critical acclaim – The Guardian’s Jay Rayner praising the “wit” of Dave’s cooking – as well as awards – including The Good Food Guide’s Local Restaurant of the Year for the North East – and listings in industry-leading publications including the Michelin Guide, Peace & Loaf has found a unique place among the best places to eat in the North East of England.
“When you boil it all down, I’m a cook and I love feeding people,” said Dave. “I never thought I’d get this far or achieve things like big awards and praise from critics. The thing that brings me, and the whole team, the most joy is making people happy – that’s why we work hard, do the hours and get through the hard days. Reaching milestones like this is a great chance to reflect on all those achievements.”
On the achievements of the last decade, Dave first points to the development of people and relationships throughout the Peace & Loaf journey.
“Some of my favourite moments of the last decade are the staff parties and the times when we’ve come through tough periods and had the chance to celebrate our teamwork and commitment.
“I’m also very proud when I get to eat in a restaurant where a former Peace & Loaf chef is making waves of their own,” added Dave. “When I opened a restaurant at 27, I had a brilliant mentor in Bob and I’ve always wanted to be able to be proud of what the people who come through my kitchen go on to achieve.
“We have people running their own restaurants, achieving greater awards and higher praise than I ever have, and becoming the next big thing out of the North East. That’s something I’m incredibly proud of and I hope it continues for many years to come.
“I’m also incredibly proud of the relationships we’ve built with diners. Whether it was naivety or a bit of self-doubt, when I started, I never thought we’d have long-term friendships with customers. Over the years we’ve had people eat with us every fortnight; that still blows my mind and it’s one of the best things about doing this.”
With 10 years in the record books, Dave has come through the early tests of running a business and many changes in the industry, and found his own way to success. In the coming years, he hopes to continue to build teams which share his passion for creating dining experiences, and to champion the best local food and people.
“The first goal, as we’ve had since day one, is survival. The hospitality industry isn’t easy and while we have the great highs, we also face the lows as well. We have opportunities to grow – first as a business as we develop our lunch offering and drive new ideas forward, and as individuals as we improve what we do at Peace & Loaf before going off on new adventures when the time comes.
“From there, we’ll just keep feeding people and putting smiles on faces for as long as we get the opportunity to.”
Dave, from Wingate in County Durham, was a promising footballer as a teenager and began his food journey in the kitchen at home, teaching himself from TV shows and books before washing pots in a local restaurant from the age of 15. He went on to cook at The Castle Eden Inn before working at restaurants including Seaham Hall, McCoys at The Baltic, and The Star Inn at Harome. He reached the final of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2010, and competed in The Great British Menu in 2018. His food has won high praise throughout his career – from his acclaimed chicken pie dish which first appeared on Masterchef to his unique takes on chicken parmos, kebabs, and ham with pease pudding – or Geordie foie gras as Dave calls it. He has also found success since the Covid pandemic with his Peace of Pie concept, with flavours including beef bourguignon, currywurst, saag aloo, mince and dumpling, and a chicken version based on his Masterchef dish wowing customers.