After a gloriously misspent youth and early middle age dabbling in oil, writing books and “facilitating stuff”, in 2010 Abiye Cole pumped his last £2k into living his dream of becoming a hot dog vendor. He remains bemused at what followed: street food exploded, customers kept coming back, and a successful brand was born: Big Apple Hot Dogs. In a quest for a bigger local fridge, he took over a vacant butcher’s shop on the Cally Road. Cole & Sons now has a daily hot dog terrace out front, and runs The Bunker, a downstairs space for secret supper clubs, celebrations and shenanigans.
When were you happiest? Probably about three years ago, when it all seemed so easy. That was 18 months into Big Apple Hot Dogs, when it had an energy of its own, I was having fun, but still had time for myself and my family.
Where would you like to live?
I genuinely LOVE north London, and Islington in particular. It has everything I hold dear and I always want to live here. But an apartment in Nice, with a view of the port or the sea, would be perfect for the winters of my winter years too.
I’m very fond of the increasingly rare clarion call of the cork as it announces the opening of a new bottle of wine.
What is your greatest life achievement?
That the most wonderful woman I have ever met also happens to be my enduring wife, and the mother of my two youngest boys.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Not quite sure – I’m renowned for not really paying attention in class.
What is your earliest memory?
Falling downstairs through a glass door at age three and my mum removing shards from my eyelid on the way to hospital. A few eyelid stitches still remind me of “how lucky eye am”, as we like to say.
What makes you unhappy?
What is your most unappealing habit?
I suspect I probably think that I’m even more hilarious than, in reality, I am.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I still like to party and I’m pushing 47.
Where do you hang out?
At my HQ, Cole & Sons. I adore it, and there are always fascinating, passionate people here.
Who or what do you hate and why?
The Daily Mail, and anyone who reads it without guffaws and disdain.
And worst? I’ve had so, so many amazing experiences, it would be wrong to judge them. It is quite incredible what can happen to you if you remain open and positive. Saying that, my worst experiences all seem to involve the peril which can also result from being open and positive.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My little toe on that left foot.
Tell us a secret.
I am a vegan.
What is your favourite dish and why?
Eba and okra soup. Because I stupidly refused to eat it for years, and when I actually tried it, I realised it’s a totally jaw-dropping food experience. We’ll be serving it soon at Cole & Sons supper clubs.
Describe yourself as an animal.
A grizzly monkey.