You might have heard of FINCA from BBC’s program Million Pound Menu, where they managed to secure funding after wowing investors and customers with their Cuban inspired food. Here, I interview FINCA to find out more about their experiences after the show.
Please can you introduce yourselves
FINCA is a Cuban street food concept created by four friends – myself (Joe Earnshaw), Michael Harrison, Oli Smith and Daniel Heffy in the summer of 2016.
The lads were all working in restaurants and I was working in marketing – our other concept Secret Diners Club – a unique pop-up fine dining restaurant – was gaining momentum and we were offered the opportunity to take over a shack in a gin garden in Liverpool. So we decided that the time was right to leave our jobs and follow our passion full-time – and that’s when FINCA was born.
We serve up our own take on traditional recipes whilst creating new, Latin-inspired dishes along the way. We also produce as much as possible in-house using only the highest quality ingredients.
What does FINCA mean?
In Spanish, FINCA refers to a piece of farmland normally with a cottage or building on – as we started in our shack in the Gin Garden, we thought it suited us well! FINCA Vigia was also the name of Ernest Hemingway’s house in Cuba.
What were you doing before setting up your own business?
I (Joe) was working in PR and Marketing – and the guys were all chefs in restaurants.
I guess the initial leap is always the hardest! We knew that we had an idea for a really strong concept but handing in your notice at your work and following your passion is a tricky decision. It’s the head over heart saying. We spent a few weeks thinking about the opportunity and deciding what to do – but it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.
Since Million Pound Menu aired, have each of you had more defined roles in the business?
We’ve always worked well as a team and have known where each of our expertise lies so I don’t think the roles have changed really.
What have you learnt from your experiences on TV? Any behind the scenes tidbits you can share?
To be honest, you’d be surprised at how quickly you forget you’re being filmed! We were doing long days when filming and with the pressure from the investors visiting our pop-up, you quickly blank the cameras out and get on with the job at hand!
What have you learnt from working with Jeremy Roberts?
We’ve already learnt a great deal from working with Jeremy – his experience and CV is second to none! We’re learning about all aspects of our business with Jeremy – from the food to the cocktails, music, to the service – every single part of the concept is hugely important and you need to pay very close attention to every single little detail.
Why Cuban food? What makes Cuban food unique from other cuisines?
It’s a unique cuisine and one that we really enjoy cooking – and eating! We love the flavours, the ingredients – and really enjoy researching the food and dishes, and putting our own little spin on them.
Have you or are there plans to go on a Cuban retreat to learn more about the cuisine there?
Yes definitely! We’ll all be going there very soon for a big research trip – and holiday! It’ll also be great to head across to Miami and check out their Cubano-Americano cuisine there too!
You can find FINCA at Baltic Market in Liverpool from 4th October 2018 for one month!