What inspired you to work with the food industry?
I stumbled upon the
food world accidentally. After working at the BBC in current affairs I started
writing for an indie food mag and became fascinated by the people I was
interviewing and writing about. Everyone I met was so passionate about what
they were doing, and so generous – I just wanted to be part of that world. I
then worked for various travel and lifestyle magazines before going freelance
and starting TOAST – which came about after of one of those crazy conversations
with my good friend Sarah Chamberlain. We were longing for food events which
delved deeper into food culture – and after speaking to a few people with
encouraging words we decided to go for it and create our own!
How did the idea of a
magazine come about?
The events we produce
at TOAST are fun but fleeting. We wanted a way to gather our values, interests
and ideas into something more permanent. With my background as an editor, a magazine
seemed the obvious choice. Plus, after speaking to so many talented friends and
colleagues frustrated with the industry, I wanted to create a space where
people could write/photograph/talk about what really interested them – no
restrictions, no subject off limits – if it’s a good story, we’ll print it.
They say Britain is
going through a food revolution, how do you think the food landscape has
changed in London in the last 5 years?
London is a really
exciting city for food right now. There’s so much innovation, so many talented
chefs opening restaurants and entrepreneurs starting new businesses. I’ve lost
count of the number of restaurants opening each year (or each week!) but
there’s no doubt London is a better city to dine out in. I love all the food
markets popping up all over the city too – it’s an indication that people want
to eat better at home as well as in restaurants.
business is often fuelled by the next big trend, what made you steer away from
the hype in favour of ideas?
For a long time I got
caught up in the whirlwind of new openings and the latest up-and-coming chef,
but after a while it became tiring. I stepped away from the hype and started to
seek out genuine, talented, creative people who are striving to make something
the best it can be – whether that’s a restaurant, bar, event, or a beautiful
handmade ceramic bowl. Nowadays I’m much more likely to be looking around a
tiny factory in Bermondsey where they’ve made stylish anodised metal trays
since the 1930s, or searching for a railway arch in Peckham where they make
fresh Mexican cheese, than trying to attend five launch parties in an evening.
Though that’s still fun every now and then ;)
What piece of advice
would you give someone wanting to start their own business or launch their own
Do it! It’s hard work
and it’s a little bit crazy but if you have a great idea, then go for it.
Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you and don’t be
afraid to ask for help when you need it.
What was the
inspiration behind the magazine’s design/front cover?
We wanted to steer
away from the perfect shots of food you see on most front covers – food is
messy, fun, communal, everyday – so we asked illustrator, Lara Harwood to create
something that represented a meal just eaten, a conversation shared: the
leftovers. Also, as we publish independently we weren’t tied to current
magazine conventions – so there are no taglines, not even a barcode or price
(we hid them inside the back cover), to allow the beautiful illustration to
shine. I also liked the idea of the main image being on the back cover, just
creeping onto the front – a reason to pick up the magazine and feel the thick,
tactile GF Smith paper and discover what’s inside.
Foodies, chefs etc..
who inspire you?
My friends. I’ve had
the pleasure of meeting some truly talented people while creating this magazine
and they have all encouraged and inspired me.
Last cookbook you
Made in India by Meera
Sodha. I’ve always been a little apprehensive about cooking Indian food at home
(so many ingredients, such a long time cooking onions!) but Meera’s recipes are
wonderful and never intimidating. The Keralan fish curry is my current
Last good book you
Ask the Dust
Fante. Brilliant. Read it.
What’s in your
magazine pile at home?
So many! There are magazines
EVERYWHERE in my flat. I’m a little obsessed. At the moment I’m loving Cherry
Bombe, an American food mag focused on women. Also, Cereal, Noble Rot, Lucky
Peach, Vogue, Elle Decoration, Ernest, Lagom, Alquimie…I could go on forever!
Evening drink of
Champagne. Or anything
with dark rum in it.
Kiehls Crème de Corps,
Plush Balm from & Other Stories, a good book and a glass of water.
places for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks?
Where to start… I live
in Bermondsey and my favourite locals are Jose for tapas, Casse Croute for
divine French comfort food, 40 Maltby Street for wine and sharing plates, and
Bar Tozino for jamon. I also love Lyle’s, Som Saa, Quo Vadis, Tonkotsu, Sager +
Wilde, Gymkhana… I’m very much looking forward to Bao opening in Soho (I’m
obsessed with Gua Bao) and I’ve just joined Blacks members club – the perfect
place for cocktails by the fire.
And finally, what is your
definition of living better?
Eating good food with
the people you love.