Hove resident Harry Dyer is a passionate man for a lot of things, one of them being food and good coffee. He recently opened a cozy modern cafe in Hove called V&H on Holland Road. We managed to get a hold of Harry and ask him to share one of his recipes with us and answer a few questions.
Tell us a little about yourself? Well I’m obviously a total foodie but have never proclaimed to be a full on chef, more of a super passionate cook (which is what every chef should be but so often isn’t,in my experience..) I love outdoor pursuits, have been a keen sailor from a young age. Hiking, bushcraft, shooting, fishing keen forager and photographer. All of these passions, for me, are interlinked and contribute to my food and the ethos I have towards it. I have also recently taken up mountain biking and kayaking (for the fishing!)
Are you born and bred Brighton & Hove? Nope, I’m the new kid on the block! I moved here when Verity and I started V&H Cafe. I grew up in rural West Berkshire surrounded by beautiful countryside, rivers and woodland. Then, around 5 years ago, I moved to West Sussex with my family and was again privileged enough to have the South Downs literally on our doorstep. As you have probably guessed I’m a country bumpkin at heart… But I reckon I’ve adapted to city living quite well!
What is your background? When I completed A-levels I went straight into photography and TV. I was lucky enough to have a few good contacts and being ever the networker worked for some great people and shows including Top gear, World Truckers and several other TV productions. At the same time I was working in high end pubs and restaurants in Berkshire and later, West Sussex, were I started working for Verity.
After an accident that put me out of filming work for a while, I continued with catering and hospitality, managing Verity’s busy country pub. Gradually I committed to it full time, becoming addicted to the hours and camaraderie with the team and of course i was surrounded by food and drink all day! Verity gave me all the opportunities there were and really took me under her wing. I think catering, food and hospitality was my first love in the first place but perhaps saw it as more of a means to an end until life threw me a curveball and i was able to take a step back and realise it was what i wanted to do. I’ve never looked back, I’m completely hooked on the industry and the business and Verity has a huge part to play in where I am now.
What do you like about Brighton&Hove? Everything. It’s bohemian, forward thinking, discerning and has a real sense of community. It’s a 20 minute cycle to the beautiful South Downs and a 2 minute stumble to the sea. Between that are some of the best shops, suppliers, restaurants, pubs, bars and architecture in the UK (in my opinion). This place is a mekkah for people like me, who love the outdoors as well as the buzz of town/city living.
How do you like to spend your free time? Most evenings in the summer me and my flatmate take the kayaks out to go fishing. On my days off I like to visit my local suppliers and take inspiration from whats in season. I like to keep fit, cycling the downs or Stanmer park. I will always cook, every night even after a full day prepping and the service at the cafe. My flatmate Johan is a keen cook too so we like to invite friends over whatever the day of the week. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to cook something special! Foraging when i can with the seasons and reading through my library of cook books for recipes and ideas!
What made you want to open a cafe? Verity was starting a family and It’s my first venture into owning my own business, so we wanted something manageable with scope for expansion and a simple ethos. This isn’t to say running a busy cafe is an easy lifestyle. It’s hard work. It requires huge amounts of time and constant attention and we can never afford to rest on our laurels. However it’s become such an important part of UK culture now and it’s exciting being part of such a rapidly developing and improving industry. Small artisan roasters are being created, artisan bakers, butchers, fishmongers, smokeries, and tea importers/mixologists and being revived after lying dormant since the ages of industrialisation and standardisation. We were so close to losing our culture and understanding of provenance but cafes are now part of the new way of thinking and socialising and encompass all of the great qualities of culture, food, drink and artisans. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
What makes your café special in your opinion? Our consistency. We don’t overcomplicate anything and unapologetically and actively advertise that we do not make everything from scratch in house. We seek out and search for the best local, artisan producers to supply us with the things we couldn’t do better ourselves or have the time to prepare. In tern, the products we do make in house are made with care and attention. The specials board is kept fresh, new and seasonal. The display cabinet is filled with delicious cakes, pastries and bakes that cater for nearly every dietary requirement there is. Our relationship with our customers is fantastic. Our service is extremely friendly and we know nearly every customer that comes through the door in the midweek! We know their preferences, what they like what they don’t and every new customer is welcomed in the same way. Our passion is overflowing and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Can you share one of your favourite recipe with us? Our “Smashed Avocado” is one of the most popular dishes. People just can’t get enough of it! Some of our regulars probably have it four times a week.
- 1 avocado
- maldon salt
- squeeze of lemon
- handful of chopped coriander
- Piece of sourdough bread
- drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil
- 2 free range eggs
- 3 rashers of crispy sussex free range bacon
- red chilli
- spring onion
- white wine vinegar
- pimenton de vera (the spice)
- sumac (spice)
- Sussex Gold rapeseed oil
x1 Avocado smashed roughy with a fork. Season with a little maldon salt, small squeeze of lemon, a handful of chopped coriander and half a spring onion finely chopped.
Top a well toasted piece of sourdough with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (new season) and then the smashed avocado.
Poach two free range eggs in just off boiling water with a splash of white wine vinegar for 3 and a half minutes. Place these ontop of the avocado.
x3 rashers of crispy Sussex free range bacon slotted between the eggs and garnish the whole thing with half a chopped red chilling, the remaining half of spring onion, a dusting of pimenton de vera and sumac and lastly a small drizzle of Sussex Gold rapeseed oil. Simples!
What makes this one special? It’s so simple and has huge comfort factor but at the same time feels kind of righteous!