Michael Lyons admits he was definitely in his comfort zone, working with Etihad airways in Abu Dhabi overseeing the menus for first-class and business class.
“Then all of a sudden COVID-19.
“It affected the airline considerably. They just weren’t flying the guests around the world anymore. The airline was cutting costs and the ex-pats were the first to go.”
Michael had been living abroad for 17 years by then, popping back just to see friends and family.
But fortunately five years ago he had bought a place in Arundel – and he returned there in June, with a plan in mind.
“I would have come back at some point.
“I kind of got pushed into doing what I was going to do at some time anyway.
“But I was definitely in my comfort zone, in a good job, being able to travel the world without thinking about what I was going do to next.
“But I did have a plan. And originally, I was thinking ‘Well, let’s take time out, maybe three months, to work on Arundelicious, but I didn’t take three months.
“I took six weeks off and just really wanted to get going with it.
“It was a passion of mine to cook small-batch artisan food directly with all fresh ingredients and to support local produce in the area. I brought to it all my experience from premium catering for the way food is cooked and chilled and packaged and then re-presented by people in their own homes.
“Initially it was let’s build a website, let’s launch a Facebook page and let’s get a brochure printed, and let’s get the business registered… and then introduce three starters, three mains and a dessert and see how we go from there.
“And I thought I would then be twiddling my thumbs for the first couple of weeks. In fact, it just went crazy. I really don’t know why.
“I was asking people where they had heard of it, and they were saying Facebook or some people were picking up on the brochure.
“But basically people just liked the concept that you are having quality food and it is being delivered to their homes because in the present situation they felt safer actually staying at home. They just felt ‘Let’s give it a go!’”
Michael now operates on the basis that people need to place their order by 5pm on the day before – and then he cooks and delivers the next day,
“Last week was a record week – 30 to 40 orders that went out from Tuesday to Sunday. I thought August was good and then September was 30 per cent up.”
As Michael, who is working on the business with his partner Fraser Renton, said: “If it keeps up like that, I will be happy.
“But really I want to keep the focus on small-batch cooking, on quality not quantity.”
Currently Michael delivers to an area including Arundel, Barnham, Littlehampton, Yapton, Ferring and Rustington.
And all because of redundancy...
Bad luck proved the starting point for the big adventure Michael is so much enjoying now.
“Generally I like to be in my comfort zone.
“I like to be safe, and this was a gamble, but at the end of the day, I am very glad that I did.
“You have got to love food, and you have got to love what you are doing.”
Michael is delighted with the loyalty he is quickly building up amongst his clients, but he knows the pressure is on: “You have to know that you are only ever as good as your last meal.”
For full details of menus and delivery details, see http://www.arundelicious.co.uk