DJ and musician NORMAN COOK – aka Fatboy Slim – dissects the unique appeal of Brighton, where he’s launched a new café at Hove Lagoon. Interview: Alex Reece
I have always moved south in my life, and now I’ve got to about as south as you can get – I live on the beach in a place called Portslade, which is just on the border of Hove. I’m standing out on the deck on a lovely sunny day and I can’t imagine ever leaving here, to be honest.
I grew up in Redhill, about 30-40 miles north, and I came down here to go to college, about 32 years ago. There’s quite a free-thinking nature to Brighton. Eccentrics and anarchists, clubbers and hedonists – over the years, we have all been drawn here. It’s a self-perpetuating spiral of attracting like-minded people.
When you live by the water, there’s a feeling that you can turn your back on the worries of the world, and just gaze out to the sea. It’s very therapeutic. I’ve lived on the beach for 16 years and almost every day it changes. We get everything from old jerry cans to dead bodies washed up on the shore.
You can’t be here and not enjoy the coast – both my children (Woody, 13, and Nelly, two) love mackerel fishing. We swim during the two-week window when it’s warm. We’ve got sea kayaks, which we have a lot of fun with, and my son has just taken up stand-up paddle boarding.
The Big Beach Café is at the end of my road. My children have grown up in that park (Hove Lagoon) and, as they’ve got older, I’ve watched various owners of the café do different things with it. Me and my next-door neighbour, who’s one of my best mates and a chef, were just sitting there plotting, thinking about what we’d do if ever we had the place. And, at the beginning of 2013, we were lucky enough to get the chance. (I do have to say that this is my third restaurant venture, so I’m kind of au fait with the world of restaurants).
It’s very much a community thing – we’re not trying to get Michelin stars, or anything. We just want to carry on the tradition of a fantastic café in a park, perched on the beach.
Big Beach Café, Hove Lagoon. For details call 01273 911080 or visit bigbeachcafe.com
"When you live by the water, there’s a feeling that you can turn your back on the worries of the world, and just gaze out to the sea. It’s very therapeutic. I’ve lived on the beach for 16 years and almost every day it changes. We get everything from old jerry cans to dead bodies washed up on the shore."