Episode 22 Jonathan Downey
Street Feast

The world’s disused car parks, markets and office blocks need Jonathan Downey. In Street Feast he’s taken the idea of street food to a whole new level. At night, what were neglected sites come alive with tantalising smells of pizza, steamed buns, tacos and chicken wings …along with the buzz of conversation and glowing light boxes of all shapes and sizes.

JD’s hospitality journey over 20 YEARS is exceptional. Match Bar, Sosho, Milk and Honey, Street Feasts, 2 million visitors a year, Dinerama, Giant Robot, Hawker House…hold on tight…it’s quite the adventure!

The four very different Street Feasts bring together speciality bars and food traders who each do just one thing, and do it really, really well… And it was because London in the 1990s wasn’t doing nightlife well, that Jonathan decided to combine his corporate lawyer role with a new career as a bar and club operator. It was a crazy thing to do – suited and booted by day, scrubbing walls by night – but it worked for a while…. until the inevitable ‘ouch’ moment arrived. But when that came, Jonathan freed himself up to work on more amazing hospitality ideas.

Episode 21 – Alex Aitken & The Jetty

Starting off his early life on the trawler – pulling in fish and avoiding bumping into TNT-filled mines before moving into waiting at the age of 17, Alex Aitken has worked in all areas of hospitality. A self-taught chef who has never worked in anyone kitchen except his own tells the story of how he achieved Michelin stars and kept up with the everchanging industry.

Episode 21 Alex Aitken
The Jetty and Michelin star chef

Imagine. You’re about to open your first restaurant to the public. Your wife, who’s front of house, is 8 ½ months pregnant. You’re the chef –and you’ve never cooked professionally before. But you buy a couple of recipe books and some chef whites, and off you go. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yet this is what Alex Aitken did in 1983.

It was the start of a Michelin-starred career which has evolved in incredible ways and is still going strong. Today, Alex is spreading his love of locally sourced food – whether foraged, fished or farmed –through a growing number of award-winning restaurants, carrying ‘The Jetty’ name.  

As you will hear, his passion for sourcing food sustainably harks back to his teenage years as a deck hand on North Sea trawlers. He’s got hair-raising tales of mistaking World War II mines for bumper catches… and a mischievous tale about why he likes fiddling with the music volume while you’re eating your meal in his hotel restaurants. It’s only a bit of fun… Enjoy

Episode 20 – Joy Michaud and Sea Spring Seeds

After studying grasslands and moving to the USA for a while – Joy came back to the UK to start growing her very own produce. The famous Dorset Naga chilli was grown on her land, in a cold little town in Dorset much to everyone surprise. Now she not only sells the Dorset Naga seeds but produces lots of chilli and vegetable varieties – including her 8-feet tall chilli plant Nigel.

Episode 20 Joy Michaud
Sea Spring Seeds

Michael and Joy Michaud at Sea Spring Seeds are chilli growing experts who took the world by surprise one April 1st, when they revealed they’d developed the world’s hottest chilli plant, the Dorset Naga. It wasn’t an April fool, even though it seemed absurd that this world record-breaking chilli had been reared in a lush, damp corner of Dorset, far removed from its original Bangladeshi home.

The patience and dedication it takes to develop a unique and world first type of chilli was a real eye opener.  The Dorset Naga is just one of many wonderful chillis  grown by the couple – along with a wide range of vegetable seeds, carefully selected for their productivity and flavour, like the tender sweet roots of the Primo carrot!

In this programme I get some great chilli-culinary tips  from Joy… as well as an insight into the huge dedication and patience that goes into creating those tiny miracles: seeds….