Q&A: Pete Hefferan, Shed

Born at the Royal Berks, Pete Hefferan worked at Reading institution the 3Bs while a member of critically-lauded band Pete and the Pirates, championed by 6 Music, NME and Pitchfork. When the band split up in 2012, Pete began working at Chan Cham (another Reading institution) alongside his partner Lydia Owen. Pete and Lydia started Shed in July 2012 and in the last eight years it has cemented its place as one of Reading’s favourite cafés, legendary for its Tuna Turner sandwich, Saucy Fridays and superb milkshakes. Pete and Lydia married in 2018 and their daughter, Nell, was born on their wedding anniversary the following year.

Pete freely concedes that Lydia is the driving force behind Shed (“I just turn up, chat to people and cook things”): he is, however, better at sweeping up. Shed reopens for takeaway tomorrow, so let’s hope he hasn’t lost his sweeping game in the meantime.

What are you missing most while we’re all in lockdown?
I’d like to see my daughter playing with her grandparents. Failing that, a cold pint in a pub garden, with the staff from Shed.

What’s your favourite thing about Reading?
Palmer Park reminds me of old friends. Giant trees on London Road remind me of being a teenager and walking to Munchees on a Saturday. Sunday daytime darts at the Hop Leaf. I’m getting tearful.

Before starting Shed you were in Pete and the Pirates. What do you miss most and least about those days?
I’m not going to lie, I miss playing to loads of screaming fans! We got some really good crowds. I miss travelling around Europe, specifically Italy and Germany. I don’t miss the smell of the van.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
The first time we went to Paris to play a gig. It was a little café with a venue underneath. Salmon and prawn quiche followed by a beef rissole (I forget the pudding). I still have regular cravings for Clay’s Chicken ’65.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
My friend won some absinthe in a poetry competition. I helped drink the absinthe, then entered the next round of the competition with an improvised poem.

It’s also my proudest moment.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An actor.

As part of one of Reading’s most famous married couples in hospitality, what’s the secret of your success in living and working together harmoniously?
We respect each other and listen to blah blah blah something boring.

What’s your earliest memory of food?
Cream cheese and jam on a digestive.

Where will you go for your first meal out after lockdown?
The Ship Inn, Trefriw, North Wales.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Ed Norton, if he could handle the severe weight loss and the prosthetic nose.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I have an accidental angry tone when I talk sometimes. I don’t realise I’m doing it. It gets me in trouble.

You are responsible for some of Reading’s favourite sandwiches. What’s your favourite sandwich?
M&S cheese and onion.

What one film can you watch over and over again?
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I know it word for word.

Who would win in a fight: Jon from Picnic or Greg from Workhouse?
It depends on the discipline and what weapons were provided. Both would crush me flat in seconds. How much are the tickets though?

What’s the finest crisp (make and flavour)?
Walkers prawn cocktail. Bite me.

Where is your happy place?
I’m in a kitchen somewhere. I’m frying an onion, drinking wine and listening to Oh Baby by LCD Soundsystem.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure when it comes to food?
Chicken flavour Super Noodles with cheese and hot sauce.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Do you know what I mean?”  

Also I say “apes” when I burp sometimes. I’m not proud of it. 

Tell us a joke.
Have you heard about these new corduroy pillows? 

They’re really making headlines.

Describe yourself in three words.
Not sure I can.

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