FROM car parts to cup cakes and cappuccinos might seem like an unusual career switch, but for Simon Manton it’s proved a recipe for success.
After leaving Heart of England School in Balsall Common, Simon went to work at County Garages in Castle Bromwich, working his way up to become manager of the parts department.
But he was forced to forge a new career when the automotive business closed down.
The 34-year-old from Hampton-in-Arden decided he wanted to become a chef and enrolled on a two-year course at the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism & Creative Studies.
He took to it like the proverbial duck to water and along the way discovered a flair for pastry, which he is now putting into practice, in his own business.
Manton’s Patisserie opened its doors in Newhall Street in Birmingham city centre in October and Simon says it has got off to a great start, though he admits it’s very different to life in the motor trade.
“It’s about as far away from what I was previously doing as you could get.”
Manton’s is a buzzing cafe that specialises in cakes of all varieties but also offers a range of soups and sandwiches and for Simon it represents the fulfilment of a long-held dream.
“We aim to produce high quality products and nothing you will see here is bought in a packet. Everything is made from scratch - even the sausage rolls.
“I wanted to do something different to a Costa or Starbucks and I think we have done that.
“I always planned to open a shop and spent about two years putting a business plan together.”
Prior to going it alone Simon made sure he got plenty of hands-on experience as a chef, including a spell working for Rick Stein’s Cornish food empire in Padstow, an experience which provided a great place to further his skills.
“It was hard work and long hours and very much a case of sink or swim,” he said.
He admits the long hours are still part of his working life but wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I get up at 5am and often don’t get home until after 9pm - and that’s after a day of solid work - but it’s nice to be able to go to work every day and really enjoy your job. I think that is what you have to do when a business starts up.”
However, he admits he’s fortunate wife Laura is helping him run Manton’s, and said : “It’s a good job I work with her - otherwise I’d never see her.”
The couple are expecting their first child in May, meaning their busy life is set to get busier still.
* Manton’s Patisserie is located at 1 Newhall Street, close to the junction with Colmore Row.