Mansfield man's cheesecakes are more than 'Alrate'
A Mansfield Woodhouse man has hung up his fancy dress boots to focus on his cheesecake business – and plans to be bigger and better in 2020.
Paul Haywood has lived in Mansfield Woodhouse all of his life, but people may know him as one of his two alter egos: ‘Mr Fancy Dress’ or ‘Cheesecake Man’, and 2019 has seen huge changes for the businessman.
The 38-year-old was brought up around cooking, due to his dad Dave being a chef.
In 2017 he took the plunge and applied to star in the popular TV show, Culinary Genius, and was thrilled when he got through to the semi-finals. It was there that he met his mentor, Gordon Ramsay.
“Gordon commented on how messy my workstation was, but said I was a talented chef. He nicknamed me ‘Caveman’ because I used my hands more than utensils, and that stuck. It described me perfectly,” said Paul.
He began Alrate Cheesecakes and Caveman’s Kitchen from his Mansfield Woodhouse home, alongside his town centre fancy dress shop, Forever Young.
But earlier this year, he realised something needed to change.
“I had been working 15 hours a day, seven days a week, for two years. I was exhausted. I didn’t have time to sleep, never mind a social life.
“The fancy dress industry was struggling, and I was having to put more work in each week to make it work. It was hard.
“I made my mind up – I had to close the fancy dress shop and concentrate on feeding people. It gave me a buzz to be in the kitchen.
“Business was booming, and I knew we were outgrowing my kitchen, so I started looking at business premises. The opportunity came up for Debdale Park Sports and Recreational Club and I snapped their hand off!”
Paul is a huge dog fan, so he knew wherever he went would need to be dog friendly.
“I wanted somewhere that dogs would be welcome, as my three are my babies. Debdale was perfect for that.”
He now employs a team of six and serves his cheesecakes and hearty, freshly-cooked food from their kitchen on Debdale Lane, and caters for weddings and parties too.
Business is booming, but Paul isn’t one for standing still.
His dogs, Henry, Charley and William have inspired his expansion plan for 2020.
“I love my dogs, and its not fair they miss out on all this lovely food, so ‘Alrate Dog Treats’ will be launched early 2020. I’m excited”
“We have loads of dogs come in with their owners, so it made sense to go down that road. We’re making a range of healthy homemade treats for our four-legged friends and can’t wait to launch them next year.”