In a few short months, Brighton’s Shelter Hall has already established itself as a go-to place for creative informal dining. Nick Mosley talks to kitchen partners Tom Mullany of Santan Boi and Tom Samandi of Lost Boys Chicken about their involvement in this exciting hospitality experience.
Planning to open a hospitality venue of the scale of Shelter Hall would be a challenge at the best of times, but the pandemic has thrown down some challenges and also opportunities for the operators and also the varied independent kitchens featured within the iconic seafront building.
Each of the seven kitchens run with a different food concept and are headed up by Sussex-based chefs with a passion for the city and for locally sourced produce wherever possible. From Worthing, the line-up includes ‘Caught’ by Crabshack serving up a seafood menu and ‘Ox Block’ by Masterchef winner Kenny Tutt featuring flame-grilled cuts of meat.
They are joined by ‘Amalfi’ by VIP Pizza who’ve been making waves at their bijou Neapolitan themed pizzeria on Old Steine for a number of years, the Asian influenced ‘Zest’ by Hanoi Kitchen and for sweet treats and pastries ‘Tart’ by Brighton’s Sugardough.
Tom Samandi of Lost Boys Chicken has been on-board with Shelter Hall since day one. His concept ‘Pan’ takes fried chicken to the next level with a choice of burgers and wings – and also vegan options – packed with punch from his secret recipe of 16 herbs and spices, with a nod to Asian influences most notably Korean kimchi and Chinese Szechuan pepper.
“We partnered with Shelter Hall for the soft launch last year”, said Tom Samandi. “I’ve always been keen to have a venue to ‘sling’ wings and fried chicken on the beach. Growing up in Brighton, this was a massive dream for me personally and I am so happy to be able to share my food with everyone locally and from afar”.
“Working at Shelter Hall is fast-paced, vibrant and a lot of fun”.
Shelter Hall has been keen not only to support chefs that have already got a foot in the door of the city’s food scene, but also entrepreneurs. Their rotating ‘New Venture Kitchen’ is an incubator for emerging talent and creative culinary ideas, giving chefs a four month slot to build their brand and gain the skills and business experience they need to take their concepts to the next level.
The first occupant of the New Venture Kitchen is Tom Mullany who’s taken inspiration from the classic cuisine of Malaysia. Santan Boi’s menu includes Nasi – a coconut and peanut rice dish flavoured with spicy Sambal – alongside aromatic curries and Gado-Gado satay salad. It’s a long-way from his previous career in digital advertising.
“I'm the first resident in Shelter Hall's New Venture Kitchen”, said Tom Mullany. “This is a project that will be launching new and exciting food offerings by giving founders a kitchen to cook from, customers to sell to and a whole host of support from Shelter Hall's experienced team”.
“Santan Boi is all about good, honest Malaysian food. We aim to transport you to the dining tables of one of the world's most delicious and exciting cuisines”.
In terms of sourcing, Tom buys as much meat, fruit and vegetables from local businesses as possible.
“It's a tough question for any food operator looking to accurately recreate a cuisine from another part of the world... there aren't exactly many coconut trees on Brighton beach”, he said jokingly. “That said, we have a great roster of independent local suppliers and will be looking to minimise food mile wherever possible”.
In addition to DJs on Friday and Saturday night, Shelter Hall has partnered up with Audio Active and BIMM – two of Brighton’s most influential music projects – to provide a performance platform for the city’s rising talent on Tuesdays, plus a packed programme of musicians and singers every Sunday.
The bar has a strong line-up of quality drinks from the south coast including Albourne Estate, Bolney Wine Estate and Fitz sparkling wine from Sussex, and Chapel Down from neighbouring Kent.
The venue also has two unique event spaces for private hire, including their mezzanine that can comfortably seat 50 guests and also their more intimate private dining room which can seat 12 guests.
Whether you pop in for a quick drink and snack, or make an afternoon or night of it, both Toms agree that Shelter Hall is a unique experience in Brighton.
“It’s an amazing open space to share and experience a wide range of top local food offerings and drinks”, said Tom Samandi. “Sundays are great with live music for most of the day”.
“Just look at it”, added Tom Mullany. “The location is nothing short of spectacular. Add to that seven exciting food offerings, a cracking bar and some great Brighton music. It's a no brainer”.
Shelter Hall is open daily from 8am with food and drink options running until midnight from Monday-Saturday and 10pm on Sunday. www.shelterhall.co.uk/booking