This month saw the team at Buena Comida Mexican Takeaway crowned the BEST TAKEAWAY IN THE WEST MIDLANDS at the British Takeaway Awards.
The committed, hardworking duo Sally and Karl have pushed themselves, their staff and their vision to have a sustainable, affordable and tantalisingly tasty takeaway option for their customers, with a twist of Mexican sunshine for good measure.
Karl has worked his way up the chefing ranks from humble beginnings right up through Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen, until he and his wife Sally set up on their own taking the plunge that thrust their Mexican Restaurant into the spotlight at the British Takeaway Awards in January.
Karl, who was also nominated for Best Take Away Chef, describes how he got into chefing
‘It was 1997 and a friend worked in a kitchen part time on a Saturday and after several months of me trying to find work she offered me a pot wash job on a Saturday. I actually did this for two years in this particular pub and along that journey I was taught to cut, slice, prep, wash before finally being taught how to cook meat. I really enjoyed what I did, so I persisted my career by becoming a grill chef in a local Harvester’
After learning the ropes, he was offered his first Head Chef position in 2009 and went on to rank 3rd across the Mitchell and Butlers vast portfolio for food safety. Due to his success with M&B he was soon offered a head chef position at the popular Steak House Miller & Carter where he remained for two and half years.
Karl joined the Mexican ‘Chiquito’s’ chain in 2013 in a head chef position in one of their biggest restaurants, which was challenging and tough. Karl’s chefing passion started to waiver and his wife Sally searched for an alternative to keep Karl on the pathway that he was obviously destined to tread.
When the opportunity to join Jamie’s Italian presented, Karl was anxious and nervous, doubting his talents and ability to work to this level. With the help and encouragement of his partner in crime Sally he decided to go for it.
After starting the interview rounds, it was highlighted that Karl’s experience wasn’t at the level that Jamie’s Italian were looking for and he was told “it will be like feeding you to the lions, you are not ready”. Spurred on by this rejection and desire to do better, Karl begged them to take a chance on him and it paid off – they awarded him a trial shift in Cheltenham.
After a disastrous trial, Karl realised his skillset wasn’t where they wanted it to be, but they were so impressed by his perseverance determination and attitude that they offered him a second interview.
He was offered Junior Sous Chef position, two levels below the one he had applied for. A further four and a half years of the Jamie empire later and Karl had climbed the ladder to become a Senior Head Chef and is really thankful that they took a chance on him.
In January 2019, just twelve months ago, it was suggested to Karl that he’d be great with his own restaurant. Due to his background with Mexican food and operating kitchens across multiple sites, Karl and Sally saw a gap in the market for Mexican Takeaways and decided to take the plunge and Buena Comida was born.
Not content with just opening a restaurant, Karl had a criteria for his new vision. Firstly, the food had to be as fresh as possible, he didn’t want to serve frozen foods renowned by so many other takeaway establishments. Secondly, he wanted everything to be sustainable, higher welfare, free range and local, this is something Buena Comida practice, although their spices are imported from Delhi, India and the corn tortillas are imported from Mexico, products that cannot be sourced locally from farms or companies sustainably.
Karl and Sally are advocates in giving back to their community regularly working with their local church and local events, and they have built in a little over a year a massive and loyal following on their social media channels and loyal, regular customers to Buena Comida.
‘We are absolutely thrilled to have won the award and feel honoured to have shared a stage with JIMMY CARR! Buena Comida is our baby, we absolutely love our team and our customers. It’s just the best feeling to be awarded THE BEST TAKEAWAY IN THE WEST MIDLANDS after all our hard work and dedication. We just can’t thank the British Takeaway Awards, friends and family and our lovely customers enough’ said Sally as she grips the BTA with a massive smile.
Karl, who usually has a joke to crack was quite simply lost for words saying ‘I can’t get my words out, this means so much to us, from my humble Chef beginnings, lots of self-doubt and rejection, I feel the grit and determination I have in me has pushed me, and given me this opportunity to prove how good Buena Comida is. We are family and we are so so grateful.
A great night was had by all, and the dynamic award winning duo have now unveiled plans for a brand new premises in Stourbridge, which will see them expand Buena Comida. The new venture will be offering more than just takeaway and will be open to dine inside, enjoying all of our takeaway favourite dishes, plus an exciting new evening and lunchtime menu, as well as beers & cocktails!
But for now, the husband and wife team are back in the kitchen and on the phones, taking orders from their wonderful customers at Buena Comida.