Former Boxer Leo packs a punch in the kitchen

Former boxer turned chef, Leo O'Reilly, at 'Bite 2 Eat' cafe, Hastings.'21/5/12
Former boxer turned chef, Leo O'Reilly, at 'Bite 2 Eat' cafe, Hastings.'21/5/12
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A FORMER professional boxer has proved a big hit in the kitchen after opening up his own cafe on the seafront.

A FORMER professional boxer has proved a big hit in the kitchen after opening up his own cafe on the seafront.

Leo O’Reilly has opened Bite To Eat on Marine Parade after just five years in the catering industry.

The 32-year-old has had a rapid rise through the kitchen ranks after hanging up his gloves in 2007. With just two losses in 16 professional fights, Leo has a track record of success.

And it was those skills he picked up during boxing which helped give him the confidence to do well in the kitchen.

After leaving the ring, Leo went to help his father at their 13th-century country pub near Canterbury.

He started in the kitchen as a commis chef but within two years he landed a sous chef role at the Highwoods Golf Club in Bexhill.

In November last year he was appointed head chef of The Squirrel Inn at Battle and last month he opened his own café.

And after signing a 21- year lease, Leo says he’s in for the long haul. “I came here to work less and earn more,” he said.

“But at the moment I am working 90 hours a week and earning less than a head chef.

“So it’s going to be hard work for the first few months but I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run.

“I had been thinking about getting my own place for a couple of years now.

“I worked hard and saved up my money and now I can concentrate on establishing the business.

“I really enjoy working in the kitchen and learning about food. I won’t be cooking fish and chips here – I will be concentrating on breakfasts and traditional English food. There are enough chippies around here.

“I have flown up through the ranks but I think it’s the discipline of boxing and will to win that has helped me in the kitchen. I love Hastings and last weekend was the busiest we have had so far and we’re really looking forward to the summer now.”