Music and the love of food in Crosby

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:31 21 November 2017

Antony Gormley's statues look out to sea

Antony Gormley's statues look out to sea

Archant

With just under 560,000 eggs cracked, 273,889 pancakes flipped and 20 tons of Canadian maple syrup poured across three sites in 2015, it’s no surprise to find out Moose Coffee often has a queue of customers outside their front door.

Nick Van Breemen with waitresses Laura Jones and Charlotte Milburn at Moose Coffee, College RoadNick Van Breemen with waitresses Laura Jones and Charlotte Milburn at Moose Coffee, College Road

A gamble that turned into a sure-fire success, the family-run business that started on College Road in Crosby has gone from strength to strength since opening in 2006. Ten years on, the popular café has spawned two sister sites in Liverpool and Manchester, as well as a Liverpool city centre restaurant in late 2015, Moose and Moonshine.

‘It was a risk to open the Crosby site,’ said director Nick van Breemen, who owns the business with his wife, Kathy. ‘We remortgaged our house to get the cash to start it up.’

The inspiration behind Moose Coffee came from a love of American breakfast culture. The couple, who still live in Crosby, had frequented New York and thought why they couldn’t have the same great pancakes back home.

‘The whole culture was missing here in the UK,’ explained Nick, who prior to opening the business had no experience in the hospitality industry. In fact, he worked in marketing at a charity fundraiser. ‘Ten years ago it was just the greasy spoon and the Wimpy, so we thought maybe there’s something we could do about it.’

Moose Coffee, College RoadMoose Coffee, College Road

A huge breakfast menu packed full of authentic American and Canadian short order dishes with a twist, Moose Coffee has something to offer everyone. Nick’s favourite, New York Moose, is a take on classic eggs Benedict.

If you fancy something a bit more outlandish, why not try the Manolitio, a dish paying homage to the TV series, The High Chaparral. ‘It’s a Moose style of the classic Huevos Rancheros. We just like to put a bit of personality into the menu, things like our favourite television characters for instance.’

Nick said they are now looking at branching out into Leeds and Sheffield and this summer their first grab and go Moose Express will open outside Piccadilly Station in Manchester.

‘We didn’t come in into it with a scientific plan with footfalls etc,’ said Nick. ‘It was just an idea. If you told me even six years ago that I would have 80 people employed, five sites and a head office, I wouldn’t have believed you. It is very exciting.’

Chloe Ellen Jones and flute at Merchant Taylors SchoolChloe Ellen Jones and flute at Merchant Taylors School

Chloe’s musical magic

When the doctor told Chloe Ellen Jones that playing the flute would help with her asthma, never did she think it would lead her to where she is today.

‘I was seven years old, and he said that brass and woodwind instruments would help to prevent chest infections,’ explained the 15 year old Merchant Taylors’ pupil. ‘I was already fond of the flute so I picked that.’

By the age of 12, passionate Chloe had achieved her grade eight with distinction and a year later won the British Flute Society School Performer Class A first prize. She returned to the competition at London’s Regent Hall this year to take part in the Class B category (age 14-18), coming away with first prize – a William S Haynes Co of Boston classic headjoint in sterling silver, hand-cut, silver lip and riser.

‘I never think about how I perform at the time,’ said Chloe, who lives in Childwall and practises the flute three hours a day. She is the only musical person in her family. ‘There were lots of international competitors too so it was great to come first. I have now been invited to perform at the BFS London Flute Festival, Flutastique, in August.’

Currently a principal flautist in the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and working toward her second diploma from The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Chloe would like to be become a professional flute player in the future. She already has some great professional connections to help her achieve her dream, including acclaimed Irish flute player, Sir James Galway.

‘When I was 11 and studying for my grade six, my parents arranged for me to go and watch one of his concerts in Dublin. I managed to meet him and his wife, and he offered for me to come to his flute festival in Switzerland – which I have now done for the past four years,’ said Chloe, who is also a grade eight in the piano.

‘For the last two years, I have been lucky enough to be a part of his masterclass of 20 pupils too. Both he and his wife are my mentors; they always email me to see how my exams and practise is going. But I couldn’t have done all this without my parents, they have been really supportive.’

The Little Macaron ShopThe Little Macaron Shop

Home of the ‘Maclair’

Instead of playing outside with his bolshy older brothers, Stephen Maddock found himself across the road with neighbour Maureen, learning how to make rock cakes and scones. The buzz of cooking started here, aged nine, and has since led the 44-year-old chef and baker on a whirlwind road of careers – leading to The Little Macaron Shop in Waterloo.

‘After studying bakery and confectionary at baking college, I got my first job in Satterwaites. I hated it!,’ laughed Stephen, who then quit and started to manage a newsagents instead. ‘I continued to cook and bake at home, but I only really got into it when my daughter was born. Six years ago I managed to get split shifts at the newsagents which enabled me to go to college to train as a chef.’

However, Stephen soon realised that the restaurant world was not for him and that he needed a change. During a short family break in Windermere, he had a lightbulb moment to set up something for himself.

‘Masterchef winner Claire Lara had taught me how to make macarons. After shifts at the restaurant, I used to come home and often stay up until midnight perfecting them. Soon after I nailed it, I decided to sell them at Ormskirk market.’

The demand for his tasty macarons soon exceeded his market stall, especially when he had customers travelling from the likes of Chester to buy the sweet meringue-based confectionery. So three years ago he made the leap to his own premises on St Johns Road in Waterloo.

‘My dad made me a service counter from items from a skip and I bought old school chairs and benches from eBay. People have commented it’s like Willy Wonka meets St Trinian’s inside here!’

The star attraction for The Little Macaron Shop, the maclair, came out of a happy accident when one day Stephen was making choux rings and macarons.

‘I saw the two sitting there and thought, let’s combine it and let my friends sample it. They thought it was amazing so I decided to make 50 each Saturday. It was just a local secret until one day someone tweeted about it and Channel 4 picked up on it.’

At first Stephen thought the message from the television station was a joke, but soon enough eight maclairs were on a motorcycle courier down to London, ready to appear on Sunday Brunch.

‘It was nearly the end of the episode and they hadn’t been on. All of a sudden, they appeared on a plate and Simon Rimmer ate one. The following Saturday I decided to make 100 just in case, but I had a queue out of the door and sold them all in 40 minutes.’

Now trademarked to him in America, Japan, China, European Union, Russia and Australia, Stephen has big plans for his business. ‘The next step for us is to get into the city centre and open Liverpool’s only dessert restaurant. The dream is to create a brand and item that people associate with Liverpool and I think the maclair can do that. I am also looking to do a book.’

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