Episode 59 John Rensten
Forage London

Mushrooms, who knew?  Well, some people do, but most us will be  doing some intensive learning in this episode.  Mushrooms do some amazing things and cover miles and miles of the forest floor without us even knowing. 

By the time you finish listening to this interview with John, you’ll be wondering why on earth we don’t do more of what he does, and why restaurants and cafes don’t feature more food sourced in this way.   

I’m talking about foraging.   

To me, foraging is a no brainer. The foods you come across, whether they are roots, berries, leaves, mushrooms, seaweeds or flowers, are true super foods. The act of searching for them also helps your wellbeing, either because you’re enjoying it with family and friends, or, if you’re on your own, it’s like a form of meditation.  

You might have ruled out this activity, because you live in a town or city.  Think again!  John discovered the rewards of foraging in London, as he explored his local park in Stoke Newington.  You won’t believe how many different species of plant he has eaten from that square mile, but you’ll find out later.  

Now that his home is in Dorset, John’s foraging patch extends to woods and the seashore, as well as different green spaces in the capital. Through his foraging walks, workshops and book, he’s doing his bit to spread the word about wild foods and just how fascinating they are.  

Episode 58 Will Beckett
Hawksmoor

If there is one restaurant on this planet that embodies purity of intent and an obsessive eye for detail, it’s Hawksmoor. 

Whether you’re in London, Manchester, Edinburgh or New York (which will, or has opened, depending on when you listen) you know you’ll be given exceptional food, but with none of the stuffiness that used to come with such wonderful dining. 

As regular listeners will know, I have the privilege of interviewing dozens of hospitality legends.  Without fail, whenever the Hawskmoor name crops up, people express their appreciation for the awesome, well deserved, and exceptionally consistent reputation.

Hawksmoor’s founders, Will Beckett and Huw Gott, have stuck to their original vision, doing simple things really well and delivering them in beautifully relaxed settings, which feel like they’ve been there forever.   

But doing simple things brilliantly takes a lot of time and effort. My conversation with Will gives you an insight into the incredible amount of thought that goes into every tiny detail – from sourcing ingredients from the best ethical producers to calibrating the level of smoky grit on the grills used to cook the famous Hawksmoor steaks…. To even rummaging through second-hand shops to find the right architectural features for each of their venues. 

Hawksmoor is an inspiring example of how you can build your business with integrity, on both sides of the Atlantic.  And if you’re wondering why Hawksmoor dares to bring its offering to the USA, home to the steak restaurant, start listening now to find out… 

Episode 57 Keterina Albanese
The Pub Show 2020

Here’s a cheeky little bonus episode for you this week. The quintessential British pub is changing.  Is that good, bad, or just necessary?  Well, pause a minute and let’s imagine that you’re sitting in a pub, and on the drinks menu you find a delightful rose cider, served by the wine glass; a fine small batch English whisky, described as having notes of cherry; and an impressive selection of mocktails and botanical-based soft drinks and cordials.  

Then you notice that the pub isn’t just open at lunch time and in the evenings: it offers art and floristry classes in the afternoons and a mum and toddler’s coffee morning between 9 and 12 on weekdays.  

Maybe your local organises these sorts of things already.  If it does, it falls into what my guest today describes as the ‘hybrid pub’ category.  They include pubs which use their buildings in different ways or partner up with local breweries, distilleries and chefs, to offer their customers new drink and food experiences – from supper clubs to gin safaris.  

Keterina Albanese is the Content Director of The Pub Show, also known as ‘Pub 20’.  It opens its doors on the 4th and 5th February at Olympia in London, and as you’ll hear now, it’s the place to learn about the latest trends and be inspired on how to make a pub a success…

Episode 56 Harry Lomas
Head of Culinary Wembley Stadium

People often say, in an off-the-cuff way, that something they organised was ‘like a military operation’.  Well, this week’s guest, Harry Lomas, really does know what it’s like to run a kitchen as a huge, well-oiled military machine.  

Harry’s strategic skills have been honed by the 34 years he spent with the British Army.  His amazing career included a stint with The Royal Household; the position of Master Chef with the Parachute Regiment in Cyprus and, to round off, being responsible for feeding troops around the world, including Afghanistan. There he was involved in rebuilding the kitchen at Camp Bastion, which had to serve 25,000 troops at each sitting.  

The statistics become more eye-watering with Harry’s next role, overseeing the catering for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. As you’ll hear, the prospect of serving 147,000 people a day, never seemed to daunt Harry.  That’s probably why he’s the perfect fit for the title he holds now: Head of Culinary at Wembley Stadium.  

At which point, I’ll hand over to the great strategist himself.  Only Harry can explain the complexities of cooking different meals for thousands of football fans  – and making sure they’re back in their seats before kick-off.  

Episode 55 Jody Scheckter
F1 Champion and Laverstoke Park Farm

Two things come up regularly on the podcast.  Firstly, quite a few of my podcast guests have gone through significant career changes to become food, drink and hospitality entrepreneurs.  I’m thinking Rupert Holloway at Conker Gin, who gave up surveying to set up his own distillery, or Claire Burnet at Chococo who swapped marketing for freshly made chocolates.  

As the winner of the 1979 Formula One world championship this weeks guest, Jody Scheckter certainly knows a thing or two about a second career, and in fact even a third!

Secondly, obsession, maybe William Curley creating the very best chocolates or Jethro Tenant and his quest to make the best sea salt.  Jody certainly takes things to the extreme.  He started with such a simple idea.  How to provide the very best, tastiest, food for his family.  That simple seed of an idea has taken Jody on an incredible adventure, learning the most phenomenal amount about every stage of food production, from seed to plate.  In fact, before the seed, Jody and his team of chemists and biologists spent eight years just researching the soil!  As he says, everything we eat, that does not come from the sea, comes from the soil at some point.  So if you have an obsessive nature, are use to winning and always want the best, that is the natural place to start.

Nowadays, as the founder of Laverstoke Park Farm, Jody Scheckter is better known for his commitment to biodynamic and organic farming, and his herd of water buffalo, which provide the milk for award-winning mozzarella and ice cream. 

Laverstoke Park Farm has also diversified into hops and ale; sparkling wine and black pudding. While these products are varied, the vision underpinning them is always the same: to be the ‘best-tasting and healthiest, without compromise’.