Former Gateshead College student launches pop-up restaurant

Richard Phillipson is putting the catering and business skills he learnt as a Gateshead College student to good use – he’s looking forward to welcoming guests to sample his unique take on traditional and new American-style BBQ at the Settledown Cafe in Newcastle city centre’s Thornton Street.

His Midnight Meat Train ‘pop-up restaurant’ will make its first stop in the city with a menu that will include dishes like smoked haddock and corn chowder, smoked and spiced beef brisket, griddled aubergine and goats cheese burger among many other stateside snacks. 

Richard, 33, from Tynemouth, currently works as a chef at gastro pub The Feathers Inn in Stocksfield after retraining at Gateshead College following a previous 10-year career as a paralegal.

He’s now hoping that his new pop-up venture will establish his reputation as an up-and-coming chef and see his talent for a taste of Americana gather momentum around the region.

He said: “I completed my training at Gateshead College, which equipped me the skills in both the food and business sides of the catering industry, before gaining full-time employment at The Feathers Inn.

“The team at The Feathers Inn have been fantastic and fully back me and are helping with the execution of this event.

“I created this event to help me gain more experience in events and hopefully to build my reputation. One day, I would like to open up my own restaurant and this is a great way to gain experience.”

Joanne Rogan, lead practitioner - catering at Gateshead College, said: “Richard is a great example of a student who has learnt his trade and gained the skills he needs to progress in a new career.

“Outstanding chefs like Richard are just what the industry needs and it is great for us to be able to provide him with the skills he needs.

“It is our role to assist those budding entrepreneurs on their journey by providing the appropriate training and mentoring to get them off to a good start.”

The Settledown Cafe is a family-run independent cafe and was the perfect location for the pop-up restaurant.

Richard said: “I was looking for a cafe venue for quite some time and The Settledown Cafe was the right fit, it’s a good size and it shares a similar ethos to mine.

“The evening will also allow me to experiment with different kinds of dishes that otherwise, I may not have gotten to serve.”

Prior to embarking on a career in hospitality, Richard has worked as a paralegal at Browell Smith & Co for the past 10 years.

He said: “I always wanted to be a chef; I fell into working as a paralegal. Eventually, I decided that if I was ever going to change career - now was the time.”

Tickets for The Midnight Meat Train at the Settledown Cafe, includes three courses and two drinks for £25 per person. Tickets can be purchased from