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Kenny Tutt says his "deep-fried Oreos with salted caramel dulce de leche are WILD!"

Chef Kenny Tutt of Pitch

Although many restaurants have faced challenges over the past 18 months, some businesses have found opportunity in adversity. Nick Mosley talks to Kenny Tutt, chef and co-owner of Pitch in Worthing and Ox Block at Shelter Hall in Brighton, about his culinary journey and the forthcoming launch of his new venture Bayside Social, opening in September on Worthing seafront.

Your name, address and age and some background about you

Kenny Tutt, hometown of Worthing, 39 years old.

I was a bank manager for about 18 years before my wife and business partner, Lucy, encouraged me to finally apply for MasterChef. I went on to win the BBC1 show to become the MasterChef Champion 2018. What an experience it was!

Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work with amazing chefs, producers and festivals on some great collaborations, and just a year after winning, we opened our first restaurant, Pitch, in Worthing.

What is your restaurant called, where is it and when was it established?

We’ve got two restaurants now, Pitch in Worthing opened in 2019, and this year – despite the pandemic – we opened our second restaurant, Ox Block as part of Shelter Hall in Brighton.

Gunpowder Chicken Thigh at Ox Block at Shelter Hall, Brighton

Tell us about the food you serve

Pitch is all about the classics, but with my spin on them. We also source as much of our produce as we can from local suppliers, and we also often work with them on special collaborations, such as our Pitch beers with local favourite, Harvey’s Brewery.

Ox Block at Shelter Hall is quite different to Pitch, but still with the same values. It’s a street food concept in style and our focus is on the meat cooked on a Robata grill. I love this way of cooking as it enhances the fantastic produce that we have, but it doesn’t take away from it – I believe that if you’ve got great ingredients, you shouldn’t mess about with them too much. Firm favourites since we opened have been the Gunpowder Chicken Thigh – aromatic charred chicken thighs cooked over fire with toasted peanuts, lime, fresh chilli and flamed flatbread. Don’t miss dessert though: the Deep-Fried Oreos with salted caramel dulce de leche are WILD.

How many on your team and who are they?

Our team has grown hugely over the last six months in anticipation of opening the two new restaurants. We now have 42 people working across the sites, and we work hard to offer as many varied opportunities as we can as well as development so that we keep our best team members around us. We’re welcoming a new GM, Garth for our new venue Bayside Social, who has opened restaurants across the world including in South Africa and Qatar.

Interior of Pitch in Worthing

How did the idea for your business come about?

I had always wanted to get into hospitality, and my experiences on MasterChef and working with great chefs like Tommy Banks straight afterwards confirmed that I wanted to be in restaurants. The idea for Pitch came from my parents actually – we’d grown up with my parents working their seafood stall across the South Coast, and we were always up early to get there first to get the best ‘pitch’.

How have you coped during the pandemic?

It was obviously extremely challenging from having to close the restaurants at very short notice, to worries about finances and our team.

We put our team first though and were able to keep everyone on throughout. We started doing special occasion meal kits for things like Father’s Day, which flew out, and we also launched Tutt’s Truck which moved to various locations nearby so that we could keep the Pitch love alive.

What would you like to tell people about your business?

We love it! And we’re so pleased to be able to have people back in, and we’re so excited to be opening Bayside Social in Worthing in September. We couldn’t be prouder of our team, too.

Selection of dishes from Ox Block at Shelter Hall in Brighton

What are your plans/hopes for the future?

I think with three restaurants by the end of the year, we might take a break from opening any more for the time being… but never say never. Other than that, I’ll be at some festivals over the summer hosting and doing some stage demos, so it’s great to have those to look forward to as well.

What are your favourite places to eat and drink in and around Worthing?

For great Japanese inspired street food I like Yamu Yamu. For a burger and cold pint then definitely The Woods Burger Kitchen. I love salt beef bagels so Bungaroosh is always a go-to.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Bookings for our new restaurant, Bayside Social at 1 Beach Parade in Worthing, will be live next week. See you at the beach!

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