Sashimi away! - We chat to Codi Sheldon as she prepares to open her cafe on Heywood Road
“I can do a sushi roll in under 30 seconds,” smiles Codi Sheldon, “I can do it in my sleep. Once you’ve worked at Australasia, you can work in any restaurant at all.”
Radcliffe-born Codi was 19 and working for local legend Celia Clyne catering enormous wedding and bar mitzvah parties around Prestwich and Whitefield when she got the call from Australasia one Friday.
You’ll find hot dishes like crispy chilli chicken, katsu curry, and crispy shredded beef as well as hot filled bao with Korean BBQ beef or mushroom karaage
She’d done catering at Bury College before working for Celia and had never even dreamed of working somewhere so fancy.
Codi recalls: “I walked in and it was all men, except Nee, this tiny Thai sushi chef. She was little, but boy could she shout!
Chef training in Australasia and Australia
"I was on the larder section - salads, starters and sides - at first. Cooking dishes like beetroot salad with goat's cheese bonbon, tuna tartare, rice. Then I moved onto tempura, which was hot. I got a few burns. That was intense because everyone loves tempura. Eventually, I worked my way around all the sections and learned from Nee how to make sushi.
"The days were long, I used to start at 10, and finish at 12 or 1am, five days a week.”
Codi loved her job but was young and hungry for adventure. When she heard a couple of the top chefs were leaving to work in actual Australia for a while, she asked if she could join them. Before she knew it, she was off to the other side of the world where she worked in a beach cafe in Melbourne living the dream. After 10 months though, she missed her family and returned to the UK.
After a month or so, Codi's ex-colleague at Australasia asked her to return and she took on a more admin-based role, stock checking, ordering and learning some important business skills before returning to the kitchen on the pass.
"It was difficult," Codi tells me, "I think I worked with about seven or eight different sushi chefs and they all left. The staff turnover is ridiculously high but it's an intense job and you have to have a passion for what you're doing otherwise you burn out. You had, I think, six minutes to get all the starters or small plates out. I've had people go to the fridge and not come back."
With itchy feet again in 2020, Codi decided to embark on a dream bit of travelling around Vietnam, The Philippines, Australia and NZ. When covid hit, she was in New Zealand getting ready to kick off her travels in Asia but it was not to be. Borders closed, she enjoyed the relative freedom of NZ for a while until her parents begged her to come home - people were dying, nobody knew what was going to happen - she needed to be with family, so she flew back to Manchester.
A lockdown sushi business is born
It was on one of her daily walks around Radcliffe with her dog that somebody suggested she start up a delivery service for her homemade food. People were sick of cooking three meals a day, seven days a week. There was certainly a demand for it. It got her thinking and she called her step-grandpa. “He’s an amazing cook from Pakistan, he was used to working 40-odd hours a week and he was bored so we teamed up. He was making curries for me and I was doing, not so much sushi, but chicken katsu curry, crispy beef, teriyaki. He cooked his dishes from his kitchen and me from mine, then he’d drop them off and I’d deliver them cold with heating instructions. I was going all over, South Manchester too, I even did one delivery to Leeds.”
With nothing like it available in the area, Codi’s lockdown kitchen was a success and for the past year or so, Codi has been delivering individual sushi platters to locals as well as catering parties up to 200 people from her “normal-sized home kitchen”. After a particularly huge job, Codi realised she needed her own professional kitchen space to cook from, so why not open it to the public too?
After a long search, a fortuitous turn of events led Codi to find the corner unit on Heywood Roadd in Prestwich and Codi's Kitchen in proper bricks n mortar form was born. Codi held her soft launch on Sunday 15 May and the sushi restaurant opens to the public for takeaway from Tuesday 17 May. It will launch for the full eat-in experience on 16 June.
What’s on the menu at Codi’s Kitchen?
Codi’s sushi is really good. She has taken inspiration from both her time at Australasia and her travels in Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are huge sushi markets which Codi lapped up, telling me: “You know how we have a bookies on every corner here? Over there it’s a sushi place.”
You can expect chunky rolls like rainbow rolls with salmon, tuna, cucumber and avocado with seven-spice and Japanese mayo, seared beef roll with sweet potato and teriyaki and a salmon bomb with salmon tempura, avocado, Japanese mayo and flamed teriyaki. There is sashimi, nigiri and hand rolls too. But that’s not all Codi is a whizz at, she’s also a dab hand with the ole teriyaki, katsu and sweet and spicy sauces. You’ll find hot dishes like crispy chilli chicken, katsu curry, and crispy shredded beef as well as hot, filled bao with Korean BBQ beef or mushroom karaage.
The vast majority of the menu is also gluten-free. Codi's mum is gluten intolerant so she made the decision to use gluten-free soy sauce across the menu. Everything is cooked to order and the sushi rolled to order too. So it's a good job she's fast.
Codi's is a casual dining spot, where you can sit down and eat but Codi says she doesn't want it to feel formal. "It's not going to be fine dining, but it will have that level of quality." For now, it's BYOB, so grab that bottle of Champers you've been saving for a special occasion and celebrate Prestwich's first sushi restaurant.
The food is available to eat in, take away or delivery via her exclusive partner Deliveroo. Codi is still catering parties too, give her a shout if you have an idea. With her brother and sister working front of house and Codi and another chef in the kitchen, it's a proper family business and we love to see it.
Codi’s Kitchen 257 Heywood Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25
Read next: First look: Luisa's - Radcliffe gets a glam, modern Italian restaurant
Read again: More Japanese fusion for Manchester as Sakku Samba moves into Artisan spot
Get the latest news to your inbox
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email by signing up to our mailing list. This is one of the ways that Confidentials remains free to our readers and by signing up you help support our high quality, impartial and knowledgable writers. Thank you!