Who’s got the ‘Bab?
He’s the mastermind chef-owner behind one of the UK’s most exciting Michelin-star restaurants. He’s also a secret MC. Now, Brad Carter is determined to get as many of his kebabs into the hands of Brummies as he can.
Brad Carter is no regular chef. His was not your typical route into cooking. There was no time spent sharpening his skills in a Michelin-starred kitchen or under the wing of an established mentor. A kitchen porter job at his local sparked a teenage Brad’s love of cooking and inspired him to enrol at University College Birmingham, which is known nationwide for its production of high quality chefs from its renowned culinary arts courses.
Brad juggled his studies alongside nights MC’ing in clubs thanks to a lifelong passion for acid house, dance and hardcore culture. Brad admired the creativity within the rave scene, describing feeling ‘absorbed’ by the way ‘all social barriers were broken down once the music started.’ As time went on, he found himself choosing between the two disciplines, with cooking ultimately succeeding.
“I find now that I get the same creative feeling when developing recipes as I did with a mic in my hand. It all stems from the same place and I still listen to rave music all the time.”
Following his education, Brad decided to travel to explore his passion for whole animal butchery and ancient preservation techniques. His time abroad allowed him to pick up new culinary skills as he worked in fine-dining restaurants in Menorca and Marseille. The methods and flavours in these restaurants would later influence his own unique spin on modern British foods.
Upon returning to the UK, he grafted in local pubs and restaurants before launching Carters of Moseley with his partner, Holly Jackson, in 2010. At the time of its launch, Brad was only 27.
“Carters was started in 2010 by myself and my partner, Holly. It was our vision to create a restaurant which was completely British, using world class products from the UK so that we could really show off our landscape and food that we have here. The cooking style has always been the same but progressed quite quickly to being refined which I put down to us being in one space and concentrating on getting better.”
Carters was awarded a Michelin Star in 2015. The Guide described the restaurant’s tasting menu as ‘ambitious, creative and modern’. Brad described receiving the accolade as “like winning an Oscar, but for cooking.” These days, the success of Carters has seen Brad appear regularly on daytime TV such as Saturday Kitchen Live and at live demonstrations such as The Good Food Show.
“Our entire ethos is to use One Star Döner Bar as a more accessible version of Carters. The ingredients are the same, all of the products we use are the same as Carters; same butcher, same quality of meat, just a different execution. At Carters, the ingredients are a little bit more expensive which makes it a place that is a bit more exclusive, whereas One Star Döner Bar is accessible and for every day.”
A recent addition to the Carters collection is the One Star Döner Bar concept. Inspired by Berlin’s Gemüse Kebab, a popular street food option in the German capital, the idea was originally a lockdown side project as Carters was closed. One borrowed kebab spit later, Brad rustled up inventive versions of the Gemüse using his own Michelin-star level ingredients at Carters and, unsurprisingly, sold 400 in one weekend. Using the same ingredients as those served within Carters dishes allowed a wider audience to access the tastes available at the restaurant, as Brad believes that ‘good quality food should be available for everyone’.
“Originally, One Star Döner Bar was just a bit of fun! We launched during the winter lockdown when everything felt a bit doom and gloom. I was fed up with doing takeaway boxes and wanted to meet people again. We were only allowed to do click and collect at the time. We launched and sold out completely within ten minutes on the first weekend. We knew then that it would be a hit.”
By October 2021, the first iteration of a brick-and-mortar One Star Döner Bar launched within Manchester’s urban street food market, Escape to Freight Island. The concept boomed and allowed a much wider audience to get to know Brad’s talent and style through his unique dishes.
The kebabs, in Brad’s words, are “as good at 2pm as they are at 2am” and act as the “perfect post-rave sustenance.” The curated menu takes in two kebabs and two shawarmas, made from high-quality ingredients, including Lamb from Launceston, Cornwall, Tamworth Mortadella and Cotswold White Chicken. Carters’ signature potato smileys are also available as a side order.
Now, 2023 has finally seen the kebab king return home, as One Star Döner Bar takes up residence at the iconic Hare & Hounds pub in Kings Heath. In collaboration with the pub’s owner, DJ and promoter Adam Regan, Brad is ‘super chuffed’ to bring the concept home to Birmingham. “I can’t think of anywhere better suited to One Star Döner Bar than the brilliant Hare & Hounds. Adam and I have hoped to collaborate for a long time. We have known each other for years and have always mixed in similar paths both musically and creatively.”
Brad and Adam are a well-suited pair. Their common lifelong love of dance and rave culture, and shared experience within hospitality, has seen them come together to ensure that One Star Döner Bar is accessible for Brummies. Brad is happy to be collaborating with Adam on this, and states that “it feels great to see this project become a reality.”
Adam has looked to introduce a food offer at the Hare & Hounds for some time. “We’re made up that Brad has brought his trademark kebabs to our pub. We know that they’re going to be a big hit; and between us, we’re determined to get as many ‘babs into the hands of as many Brummies as possible.”
Brad says that he and Adam have “flirted with the idea of launching food at the Hare & Hounds many times over the years, but I’ve never had a certain concept until One Star Döner Bar. Once this was established, I reached out to Adam and we were talking it over within two minutes. It felt very natural.”
The Hare & Hounds, despite never having served food before, appears to be the perfect companion to the One Star Döner Bar concept, which Brad does not take lightly. “It’s an iconic venue in Birmingham run by someone who I respect and love. Just being able to be there and serve food for the first time ever is a huge honour.”
One Star Döner Bar at the Hare & Hounds is set up to serve at a high volume. “We’re aiming to get between 200 and 250 kebabs out on a Saturday.” The pub itself can hold around 90 guests between its saloon and main pub area. One Star Döner Bar is starting out with a Wednesday – Sunday offer and will look to moving up to a 7-day operation when possible.
“We would really just like to feed as many people as we can. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
One Star Döner Bar at the Hare & Hounds is now open.