Interview with Jay from The Core Cheltenham

I am really excited to share another nutrition lover on the blog today, Jay Halford. He runs a funky and modern cafe. Specialising in whole food nutrition that is vegetarian with lots of luscious vegan and raw food options too. This is something I'm equally passionate about.


for Forking Fit

It's lovely to be interviewing you today,

You own The Core, a small vegan and raw café in Cheltenham. Tell us what led you to love raw plant-based food?…

I became a chef at the age of 16,  and have always had a passion for cooking and good food. Completing my training as an apprentice I very quickly moved on to work in a very prestigious Michelin star hotel (Lords of The Manor) under a great chef Matt Weedon, this fuelled my love for food and cooking. I very quickly moved up to be head pastry chef at the Greenway aged 19. I first came across juicing and raw food whilst travelling around Australia, it was massively popular over there. Then when I got back home after 2 years it started cropping up over here too. I was then introduced to the Raw vegan lifestyle by a friend who is a personnel trainer. Working very long hours in a very busy pub at the time I started to introduce Raw foods into my diet. 

After living like this for nearly a year and working in a few different places I started looking into my own business, I knew that to go all out and do this completely new thing would be a little risky so took over a small cafe and started to introduce juicing and raw food along side a pretty standard menu. It really took off and people were coming to me just for this new thing I was doing. 

All chefs work very long hours. Do you find a plant-based diet gives you the energy you need to keep going?

Yes 100%, I normally work at least 80 hours a week and I find that following a plant based diet and juicing daily keeps me going. It helps me feel a lot more focused on what I am doing. Being a living example of what I do is hugely important to me, I think it passes on to the customers and encourages them to want to do the same. Before Raw foods and Juices I fuelled myself on coffee, red bull and never ate properly. This led to me being constantly tired and working myself to burn out. I can now do everything with energy, ease and a smile on my face!

If any of us live in the Cheltenham area and would like to visit The Core tell us what we can expect to find…

At The Core Cheltenham we offer a massive selection of juices, smoothies and nut milks. They are designed specifically for different health benefits. The raw cakes are incredible, we will always have at least 5 different flavours. We have “healthy sandwich options”, superfood bowls and then up on the wall, amazing salad and raw food dishes. Our whole menu is vegetarian and over half vegan. We try where possible to avoid any gluten and dairy in the menu so everything is totally guilt free.

Click on photo for Muesli Bircher Recipe

We run weekly workshops to educate people on juicing and Raw food and our Juice programmes are a great thing that we offer where the customer can come and pick up freshly made juices for a period of time (a juice detox programme). This is a great thing for weight-loss, skin improvements, general well-being and feeling great. A great kick-start to a healthy lifestyle. 

I also hold a raw food night twice a month where people can buy a ticket to come and experience a fine dining experience of raw food. These are extremely popular and nearly always sell out. What I love most about these nights is that most of the people that attend are neither raw or vegan, just people curious to find out more and looking for a new food experience 

That’s interesting that you also offer ‘how to’ courses and yoga/raw sessions. Do you practice yoga and meditation yourself?

Yes I have only recently just started to practise Yoga after being introduced to it in Bournemouth whilst doing a workshop at a studio with a good friend of mine Tracy Sadler from Raw Happy. I attend her Classes at Ella and Fleur in Cheltenham. I also do a Strala Yoga class ran by another great friend Sarah Jane Griffiths who is also a health coach. I believe Yoga and Raw food go perfectly together, and doing them makes me feel great.

Do you have a favourite juice and why is it good for us?

My Favourite Juice is "Super Greens" from our menu


2 apples

1 kiwi

a large handful of spinach





It's great for us in so many ways. It has cucumber which is great for the skin, spinach is full of iron, ginger a great anti-inflammatory and avocado for good fats.

And what makes you happy when you take your chef’s hat off?

I don’t get a massive amount of time off , but when I do I always make sure that I'm going to Yoga at least twice a week. I love a good massage to chill me out at least once a month :) taking this kind of time to relax is very important to me. My holiday every Christmas is always snowboarding, I love it! I cant think of a better place to be than on top of a mountain. When at home Mountain biking is definitely my thing, we are so lucky here in Cheltenham to be surrounded by such amazing countryside to explore. Time with family is essential!

Thank you Jay

If any of you would like to visit The Core, or find out more about Jay’s pop-up nights,  special events / yoga and raw food mornings you’re just one click away!

The Core Cheltenham

201 London Road

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

01242 224898