Storytelling @London’s #MarketToMichelin
Have I got news for you! A couple of weekends ago I was completely shocked and awed at being chosen to be involved in @London Worldwide Instagram Meet Up, in collaboration with @ClerkenwellBoyEC1 and @VelocityApp. The day was a Food Trail, taking us through the capital, Monopoly Board style where we circle from South, to West, North and East. Every pit stop was dedicated to showcasing and feeding us the best of the London Food Scene, and taking us from #MarketToMichelin.
It’s since been branded as involving London’s Top 50 Food and Culture Instagrammers and Bloggers. I still haven’t quite come to terms with how I was bundled in with these contemporaries who are so much more talented and years ahead of me. Talk about a ‘soak it all in’ type of moment.
The task was to become storytellers, so please read my story about the @London #WWIM14 #MarketToMichelin below.
Rumpus Room, Mondrian Hotel #BreakfastWithAView
Bright and early for a Saturday morning, I was walking along the Thames to get to the Mondrian Hotel; Southbank’s fancy boutique hotel inside Sea Containers. I hadn’t been to this hotel before, and my preconceptions was that it was going to grand, light, floral – that sort of style. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is quite the opposite. The lobby has quite cavernous, with sloping walls curving up to the ceiling, piped with warm, subtle lighting.
I was informed to go sky high, up to the twelfth floor to the private Rumpus Room; the Mondrian’s rooftop bar. Inside is decadent with violet and pink plush sofas accompanied with mirrored and gold tables. Obviously the best part about this is one, the central lighting feature, and two the amazing panoramic view of everything North of the river.
Borough Market #EatTheRainbow
After we had a couple of welcome speeches from Dave Burt, Founder of @London and Danny McCubbin from Fifteen, we all wandered to our second destination, Borough Market. A natural beginning point, taking us to kitchen inspiration on our #MarkettoMichelin tour. Thus walking along Southbank, under the Blackfriars bridge, past The Globe Theatre and The Clink Museum Prison to descend upon the Green and Jubilee Markets that make up this London favourite. The mission here was to discover the sheer breadth and diversity of food at Borough; to quite literally seek out the rainbow and engage with the producers and artisans there.
The second mission, and notably the most important, was that Velocity App had given each of us £10 to buy produce and anything we fancied which we would then collectively donate to Central Street Cookery School, a kitchen preparing and cooking food for the vulnerable. Another blogger and I joined forces, financially wise, and get our hands on a couple of Flour Station baguettes, some jazzy aubergines from Turnips, Isle of Wight oak-smoked sun dried tomatoes, Cannon & Cannon Venison Chorizo and Borough Cheese kindly donated some of their Comte to us as well! It was amazing.
Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum and Mason #TimeForTea
Next stop on our #MarkettoMichelin trial meant heading to the West part of our Monopoly board tour to go to Fortnum and Mason. Here we were very kindly treated to an Afternoon Tea with the traditional spread that we all know and love. The sweet petit fours at the end were the best, and I had the little Coconut-Mango creation which was had a coconut macaron half as the base, with mango mousse on top, speckled with dessicated coconut.. It was so incredibly fresh and really packed a punch. Anything we didn’t eat, including some of the larger celebration cakes, we also packed up to donate to the charities, #wastenot and all that.
Danny also stood up and spoke to us about the wonderful work that Fortnum and Mason are doing, which I had previously not realised. They have their fingers in many projects that support social enterprises and young food writers. They now work with St Patrignano, the Italian Drug Rehabilition town that has strong support from chef legends Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio. It has a 75% success rate, and is all about teaching the drug addicts to be good at something, and how that can change their life and put them on the right track. It’s an immense operation, where the participants work all day in one of the 52 sectors, whether that be on vineyard, in the dairy shed or with the other animals. The products that they create are also now stocked in the Fortnum and Mason Food Hall.
The second part of this pit stop was to put us in a position to give back to the incredibly hard working volunteers at Shelter. With many charities and good causes, they wouldn’t be what they are without the selfless, strong and kind people who donate their time, money and effort for the better good. Therefore Velocity App, again kindly arranged for us all to have a £10 Gift Card for Fortnum and Mason so that we would shop and gift the volunteers our purchases.
Kerb Camden #StreetFood
At around 2pm, we left the grand department store with pale mint green carrier bags in hand to catch the tube. Next stop was Camden, to hit up its recently inaugurated Kerb Market. We were again very fortunate to meet Founder Petra Barran, who spoke to us about Kerb Market and what their mission is.
Indeed they are all about keeping it street. Quite literally they are determined to raise the profiles of the best street food in London, from the curb up. By so doing, not only do they ameliorate the standards of street food, as it has now become ‘a thing’, with some fierce competition, but they enable so many small food companies. A market trader may start out with a table, but from Kerb’s experience they have seen their street food vendors enter into pop ups and real brick and mortar restaurants.
Petra spoke about how they choose their traders, and obviously their food is a major aspect. But it’s more than that, as they also want people with heart, spirit and dedication. And I guess those three qualities are definitely needed nowadays, with the ever changing climate for small businesses and the public’s desire and ability to eat out.
After her chat, we were essentially let loose on the market and allowed to treat it as our culinary playground. Each trader had a “Hero Dish” for us that embodied their food offerings the best. Map in hand, we eat our way around the market. I’m actually going to write a separate post on the foods that I tried to focus on the talented caterers that much more.
But it was really great to be part of the hustle and bustle of a really frantic street food market. Especially after experiencing two quite fancy venues in the day, the juxtaposition and real life grime brought my head down from the clouds. Even if it was a slight tangent from our dedicated #MarkettoMichelin journey, and showed an alternative to the traditional restaurant scene, it was an interesting and tasty one nonetheless!
Jamie Olivier’s Fifteen #CommunityFirst #DoSomethingForNothing
And lastly, the Michelin in our #MarkettoMichelin tour, full of goodies made by the chefs and doughnuts by St John’s was Fifteen.
Previously, I have never been to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant which is just around the corner from Old Street. However, I know quite a lot about it as it’s ethos, raison d’être and impact are incredibly well-known in the restaurant world.
The restaurant has an apprenticeship scheme, where they take disadvantaged young people and enrol them into a cooking and kitchen oriented programme. We met two of the former apprentices who spoke to us about the impact that Fifteen has had on their lives and their future. Jai who graduated from Fifteen in 2010, was so inspired to give back and make his Fifteen family proud that he crowdfunded to enable him and a group of chefs to go to Calais on Christmas Day to cook for the refugees. Similarly, Adam, Graduate in 2011, spoke to us about his life before and after Fifteen. He was lost, getting into trouble and joined as an angry boy, and left as a changed man: “you can be wherever you are in your life, you can take it wherever you want to take it.”
Both of them couldn’t reiterate enough about their biggest takeaway from the scheme, and what they try to impart on others, which is to not be selfish. To quite literally give back at any and every community, that it’s all about the bigger picture.
With these morals in mind, it was the best place to end our day. Gathering together all of our produce from Borough Market which will be given to the Cooking School, and our presents from Fortnum and Mason to be given to Shelter’s volunteers.