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Greenwich: How Joy’s Caribbean Fusion tackles waste and meat consumption

Founder Tescha Joy blended banana skins, spices and veganism to create a street food business

Tescha Joy of Joy's Caribbean Fusion
Tescha Joy of Joy’s Caribbean Fusion image Matt Grayson

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Taste and waste is what Tescha Joy is all about. Driven by a desire to create sustainable, eco-friendly, flavourful food, she created Joy’s Caribbean Fusion – a street food brand that had its debut at Bexley’s Wasteless Market two-and-a-half years ago.

Since then she’s gone on to establish herself at RARE Farmers Market at Royal Arsenal Riverside and recently started a residency every Thursday from noon-8pm, at Pegler Square in Kidbrooke Village, just by the station.

 Her food is vegan and contains only plant-based ingredients, cooked with Caribbean spices to create dishes that attract longer queues at the markets she serves than stalls selling meat. And it all started with some banana skins.

Scroll down for Tescha’s Banana Skin Curry recipe

“I’m a public health nurse and work three days a week in the NHS,” said Tescha.

“My first dish was banana skin curry – I was at work one day and everyone was throwing away their banana skins and I asked them to give them to me instead.

“I hate waste so I took those skins and created a dish with them. There’s lots of iron, fibre and many other nutrients in them. The whole point of the dish was that I wanted to show people that you don’t have to throw away certain ingredients. 

“I showed you can create a nice meal from them and that’s where I got the idea for the business – it’s the dish I took to the Wasteless Market and it’s the only recipe I’m happy to share because I want people to recreate it at home.

“I want to have it printed in this paper so readers can use it rather than throw away their banana skins. 

“We’d normally throw them away in the Caribbean too – people over there are amazed when I tell them.   

“I’d decided to go vegan for environmental reasons – I think we eat too much meat in this country. I’m not anti-meat, but I think it’s important to cut down.

“Climate change is important to me because I want a better future for my children – I want them to grow up in a world where we waste less food. 

“I know what it’s like to be hungry. The majority of people in this country don’t know what that’s like and we need to cut the amount of food we throw away.

“I’ll literally make a dish from nothing – some potato peelings can be put in the oven with olive oil and you have some crisps.”

Tescha's take on doubles with chickpea curry
Tescha’s take on doubles with chickpea curry and pickles – image Matt Grayson

Tescha’s banana skin curry remains a firm favourite on the menu at Joy’s, joined by a host of core dishes intended to delight diners with both flavour and texture.

She said: “Cooking is also my passion and it’s in my blood. My parents owned a restaurant in the Caribbean. I would have to just get changed after school and go and help whether I wanted to or not.

“My brother owns a restaurant in Catford and I have another brother who is in America and has a restaurant there.

“There’s a long family tradition of cooking, but I’m the only one who does vegan.

“Normally you’d have jerk chicken and jerk pork – quite meaty dishes. I wanted to explore different types of food using Caribbean flavours.

“Also, I think it’s good for my children to see that vegetables can be really tasty and it’s better for the planet.

“On the classic menu, I have chickpea curry with flatbread – it’s really naughty because it’s deep fried – and that’s served with mango chutney, which I make from scratch before every market, tamarind sauce and pickled onion, red cabbage and cucumber.

“In the Caribbean we call it doubles because you get two smaller breads, but I do it as one large one, just to be a bit different.

“We also do rice bowls with toppings of barbecue jerk mushroom, jerk tofu and cauliflower bites.

“My best seller is the combination bowl where you get a bit of everything including the chickpea curry and the flatbread. It all comes with the same toppings – the chutney and the pickles.

“Then we do specials such as vegan fish, which is made from jackfruit or banana blossom with plant-based marine ingredients to give it that fishy flavour.

“People can be a bit hesitant to try vegan dishes, but once they do, they usually come back and say they don’t need the meat.

“I catered for a wedding in December and the bride told me some of the guests thought they’d need to go to the local burger shop after they’d eaten the food.

“But she called me back later and told me nobody had gone – they all were amazed at the texture of the dishes and the different flavours.

“I’ve built up a big following in the areas where I trade – at RARE in Woolwich I have a queue, which is longer than the meat queue and I think people are becoming more aware of veganism and meat-eaters are also cutting down and having plant-based food instead.”

Joy's serves a range of vegan dishes
Joy’s serves a range of vegan dishes – image Matt Grayson

New dishes undergo strict quality control from Tescha’s children who taste all of her dishes before they’re allowed to make it onto the stall.

Her ambition is to keep growing the business to the point where it can operate more widely and be her sole focus.

“I’m still working as a nurse, which is something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” she said. “I’d love to have Joy’s in multiple locations, to train people up to run those stalls and serve the food. 

“At the moment my goal is to get a van so the business can be more mobile.

“This really is my passion – it’s something I want to develop. I now make and sell my own sauces too – called Island Drizzle. 

“People kept coming and asking me for my recipes and my husband said: ‘Don’t tell them, just put it in a bottle’.

“It comes in medium, hot and extra hot. They’re all vegan too and are quite different to a lot of sauces out there because you can use them as a marinade, a dressing and as a condiment.

“It’s not the hottest sauce around because I’m more into the flavour than the heat – customers can come down and try it.”

Cook it: Banana Skin Curry

While most of Tescha’s recipes remain secret, she’s happy to help people cut down on waste by sharing this one – perfect for using up that unwanted peel…

Tescha's Banana Skin Curry
Tescha’s Banana Skin Curry

Ingredients (serves three-four)

4-5 large ripe banana skins

1 cup peeled, diced potato

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp curry powder 

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp fennel seeds 

1/4 tsp cumin seed

2 cardamom pods

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp ground coriander 

1/3 tsp chopped scotch bonnet 

       chilli pepper (optional) 

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion finely (chopped) 

1 tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)

1 tbs curry leaves (optional)

2 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)

1 cup water 

1/2 cup coconut milk

Method

Thoroughly wash the banana skins, remove the rigid woody end at the top and dark spot at the end. 

Add lemon juice to the skins to stop them going dark while chopping (they will still be edible, even if this happens, so don’t worry).

Use a spoon to scrape out the inner lining and discard the scrapings. Depending on your preference, finely or roughly chop the skins. Then add the diced potato to them and combine with salt, curry powder and turmeric. 

In a pestle and mortar, place the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pod, garlic, ground coriander and chilli. Grind into a paste. Add the paste to the banana skins and potatoes and mix in well. Add chilli here if preferred for a spicier dish.

Add the oil to a frying pan, heat and turn down. Add the chopped onion and stir until softened and then tip in the chopped banana skin mix. Increase  the heat and sauté for 10 minutes. 

Add the coconut milk, water, thyme, curry leaves and fresh coriander to the pan. Cover and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Add an extra 1/4 cup of water if you prefer a more moist curry. Remove from heat once the banana skins and potatoes are soft. Serve with rice of your choice, a flatbread or on a bed of salad.

Tescha Joy

Read more: Tom Carradine celebrates six years of Cockney sing-a-longs at Wilton’s

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Canary Wharf: Shutters opens doors at two sites in One Canada Square’s marble lobby

Restaurant, cafe and bar aims to offer hotel-style service to workers and visitors to the estate

Taskin Muzaffer of The Happiness Cartel
Taskin Muzaffer of The Happiness Cartel – image Matt Grayson

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Organised crime syndicates are in my mind, having just binge-watched the latest series of Netflix drugsploitation epic Narcos: Mexico.

Fortunately The Happiness Cartel, which recently opened Shutters across two sites in the lobby of One Canada Square, bears little resemblance to the brutal mobs of Sinaloa, Juarez, Tijuana and Guadalajara.

But its creative director and founder, Taskin Muzaffer, does want Wharfers to keep coming back for more.

It’s one of the reasons why the group’s latest establishment is really three venues in one.

Firstly, Shutters itself has taken the shell of what was ETM’s One Canada Square, stripped out the walls, opened up the windows and painted everything white to form a welcoming, accessible restaurant and bar.

Secondly, head up its diagonal stairways and there’s Cartel – a separate bar space tucked away on the mezzanine, specialising in spirits and cocktails. 

Finally, look round the corner and there’s a cafe space called SuperNatural that shifts seamlessly from breakfast bar and lunch joint to wine bar after 5pm.

Shutters at One Canada Square
Shutters at One Canada Square – image Matt Grayson

That means there’s something available at all hours to keep Wharfers in a state of temptation, something that’s also down to the brand’s lineage.

“We started as a group in London, and, like most people, had a bit of a revelation in lockdown,” said Taskin, who previously worked for Drake And Morgan around the time it opened Shutters’ near neighbour, The Parlour, in 2009.

“Our first venue was Pedler in Peckham in 2014 (now reborn as Pedler Good Fortune) and we have always got a lot of our produce from Cornwall and Devon – in fact most of our fish came up from Cornish day boats on the back of a bike, so there was always that love affair with that area. 

“In 2017, we started looking for a site there, and finally opened the Unicorn On The Beach at Porthtowan in August of 2019.

“That ran really well until March 2020, when everything had to close. We decided we would keep the sites shut in London over last summer and the other members of the Cartel and myself moved to Cornwall, reopened the Unicorn and worked it as hard as possible last summer.

“Then the opportunity came up for us to purchase The Godolphin hotel in Marazion, which we renovated and briefly opened in December 2020, then properly in April 2021.

“We were very fortunate that both the Unicorn and The Godolphin had large outside areas so that was amazing when people could only be outdoors.

“Shutters was born in Cornwall as it’s the restaurant for our hotel there and we wanted to bring a slice of that back to London.

Looking down from Cartel
Looking down from Cartel – image Matt Grayson

“We’ve come to Canary Wharf with that service mindset. We essentially view anyone who passes by or who is working in the offices above at One Canada Square as a hotel guest. We want to be somewhere people can come back to multiple times a day.

“We’ve brought down the walls of the old restaurant and expanded out into the lobby, creating what we call a library area that is almost a co-working space.

“People can sit there with their laptops and have a breakfast or a lunch. It’s not bookable, it’s walk-ins only.

“On the other side of the lobby, SuperNatural serves our own Happiness coffee blend, hand-roasted in Cornwall, as well as fresh juice and smoothies. 

“In the morning you’ll see pastries and croissants – all those breakfast things – until 11am when salads with different proteins, like smoked chicken or smoked trout appear.

“Then at about 5pm it flips and becomes all about natural and low-intervention wines and build-your-own nibbles. Expect cured duck or venison done a bit like Parma ham, all made in Cornwall.”

Tuna tataki with pistachio at Shutters
Tuna tataki with pistachio at Shutters – image Matt Grayson

While the produce is Cornish, Shutters’ core menu has a pronounced American flavour to it, with dishes such as crab nachos and the Vegan Cali Sur burger.

“We wanted to give everything a kind of southern Californian twist,” said Taskin. “Cartel, for example will be doing nibbles and tacos. 

“Down in the restaurant we’ll be serving a lot of seafood dishes with those west coast flavours. 

“Personally I like the crab cakes – it’s the kind of thing you’d see on menus years ago but they’ve kind of disappeared. We’ve brought them back with a little twist – bois boudrin sauce, burnt leeks and anchovy mayo.

“I also really like the nachos, which come with a light cheese, scallions, pickles and a lime sour cream. They’re really, really good.

“As for drinks we have tank-fresh beer from Meantime, brewed about a mile away as the crow flies. 

“Otherwise we’re very much about cocktails at a reasonable price. Good value is something we’ve always tried to offer as a brand.

“We want people to come to us for breakfast, come back for a drink after work, meet their mate or a girlfriend or boyfriend for lunch and come back and have dinner.

“Maybe during the week you’ll have a glass of wine and only one course or a little nibble.

Shutters’ second site SuperNatural – image Matt Grayson

“Perhaps you’ll come back towards the end of the week and have three courses with a cocktail before or after. It’s all about creating different areas, different spaces, to make it exciting.

“You could be here having a chat with me now, then you might go and work over in the library this afternoon.

“Maybe then you’ll go over to SuperNatural tonight and meet friends and have a glass of low-intervention wine and a couple of nibbles on the board.

“Tomorrow you’ll maybe come in for breakfast or for lunch, or you might stick around for dinner.

“Then we have Cartel, which specialises in tequila and mescal with a range of 28 so far. There are some really special bottles to try. 

“We’ve tried to create something going on at all times, whether you want a quiet little corner just to get on with something, or you want to be a bit raucous.”

Shutters is set to reopen from January 9 followed by SuperNatural on January 17. Check opening hours and menus online.

Read more: How Hawksmoor constantly refines its offering

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Wapping: How Wapping Docklands Market provides a platform for small businesses

Zeroo Markets founder Will Cutteridge talks under-used land, sustainability and his plans for expansion

Will Cutteridge of Wapping Docklands Market
Will Cutteridge of Wapping Docklands Market – image Matt Grayson

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Will Cutteridge is a bit of a visionary. Where some see awkward, unused expanses of land left over from Docklands’ industrial past, he sees opportunity.

Take the patch of cobbles, wharf and compacted earth beside the Glamis Road bascule bridge, for example. 

Walk under the crossing’s red riveted metalwork, turn right through a gate off Wapping Wall at the entrance to Shadwell Basin you have the site of his first venture under the banner of Zeroo Markets.

“I worked in commercial property for five years on an apprenticeship scheme, changing teams every year,” said Will. “It was managing real estate in many different formats, but it wasn’t for me.

“When I was very young and working in property – I was 17 when I joined the industry – I didn’t have much money so I was looking at ways of making some extra cash on the weekends. 

“I started working for a company called Bath Soft Cheese who have a farm just outside of Bath, funnily enough.

“The job was selling their products at various markets around London and I absolutely loved it.

“Before I became an apprentice I’d had an interest in starting my own business of some kind. I had experience of real estate and markets – I didn’t enjoy one of them so the other one seemed the obvious place to go.

Hannah Nicholson of Peaches
Hannah Nicholson of Peaches – image Matt Grayson

“I think people are increasingly conscious of sustainability, the environment and the future of the planet.

“That was also an interest of mine, so I wanted to see how I could work that into my ideas and actually make a difference. 

“I felt almost a moral duty to factor that into my business plan and markets provide a brilliant platform for primary producers to sell their products at a price that doesn’t need to compete with large commercial supermarkets. 

Chegworth Valley, for example, is our fruit and veg supplier based in Kent, so it’s only 50 miles away.

“Our butcher is in Leicester, so that’s about 100 miles. When you buy a steak in a supermarket for £3, it may well have come from Australia or Texas.

“It’s far better to shop local and we describe ourselves as a sustainable alternative.”

By we, Will means Wapping Docklands Market, the venture he launched in April after founding his company in October 2020.

“The most important thing to do is to find the site, get the right demographic and then apply to the landowner,” he said. “In this case it’s Tower Hamlets Council.

“This was just an abandoned car park – it’s not used by anyone for anything.”

Egle Kleivaite of Stomping Grounds
Egle Kleivaite of Stomping Groundsimage Matt Grayson

Visitors to the market, which normally operates on Saturdays, will find a range of traders.

“It’s lots of different things for many different kinds of customer,” said Will.

“For the residents of Wapping and further afield in east London, it provides an opportunity to support local businesses and to get their weekly shop in from us.

“A lot of people do that – one of our best performing pitches is the fruit and veg stall. People do support that mission.

“We also have a pub, in effect, operated by the Krafty Braumeister.

Visitors can come and have a beer and enjoy refreshments from a plethora of street food stalls as well.

“On average our products have travelled 900 miles less when compared with a like-for-like product in a supermarket, so what we’re doing is working, and we’re always looking to improve.

“That’s a very important part of the market and attracts a younger crowd.”

Ben Tyler-Wray of Celtic Bakers
Ben Tyler-Wray of Celtic Bakers image Matt Grayson

The market also features baked goods, gifts, clothing and homewear brands.

“It’s been going really well since we launched and the local community have taken to it really well and we’re immensely grateful to them for that.

“We’re still trading strongly despite the weather turning. We don’t see a dip in our footfall with cold – it’s wind and rain that can be the problem.

“We want to continue to operate here and to extend our normal operation to Sundays and then Fridays, which is what we’re doing for Christmas.

“Eventually I’d love to work with the council to redevelop the site with a temporary canopy in the style of Borough Market and have a high street in a market setting.

“That potential is what we’re looking for at all of our sites.

“That’s why we wouldn’t operate at schools, for example, because it’s not under utilised space and there would be no flexibility to expand there. 

“With our next ventures, I’m looking to keep it local – my dad lives in Wapping and, while I’m in Holloway at the moment, I’m looking to move to the area. 

“We’re in contact with a number of local authorities, private developers and private landlords on a number of sites around east London.”

Brendan Preece of Brnd And Co
Brendan Preece of Brnd And Co image Matt Grayson

Wapping Docklands Market is always interested to hear from potential traders.

Will said: “There’s an application form on our website, which goes straight through to us.

“There are lots of things we’d love to add to the market. I’d love to have a crèche. A lot of parents come here with their kids and say they’d love to stay longer but have to leave because of them.

“I think a lot of adults would like that freedom to go and see Uli Schiefelbein – the Krafty Braumeister for a beer.

“He’s completely eccentric and totally awesome in every way and is great to talk to.”

As for the future, Will intends to create a business model called Squid, designed to work with landlords to generate value from under utilised space.

In the meantime, Wapping Docklands Market will be open Fridays (3pm-10pm), Saturdays and Sundays (10am-5pm) throughout December, before taking a break until January 19.

Read more: Discover Jake’s shirts, handmade in Royal Docks

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Canary Wharf: How Hawksmoor’s team work tirelessly to refine its offering

Wood Wharf opening along with The Lowback bar is first hospitality venue in estate’s emerging area

Hawksmoor group executive chef Matt Brown
Hawksmoor group executive chef Matt Brown – image Matt Grayson

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Not many restaurant group flagship venues are actually floating.

But Hawksmoor’s Wood Wharf establishment, permanently moored off Water Street, sits on a specially-built pontoon above the cold, dark fathoms of what’s left of the eastern end of West India Middle Dock. 

It’s the first in a clutch of new venues – something of a beachhead that will see Wharfers drawn in ever greater numbers over Montgomery Bridge.

And they’ll be in for a panoply of riches if Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, The London Project and MMy Wood Wharf turn out to be of similar quality.

Hawksmoor may have leapfrogged them all, becoming the first hospitality venue to open its doors in the emerging community, but the speed of its arrival hasn’t been to its detriment.

Its 160-seat restaurant on the top deck is all deep leather banquette seating, gold, glass and warm lighting. It’s filled with different, comforting textures offset by polished wood – all the glamour of an Art Deco ocean liner.

Head downstairs and 120-seat bar The Lowback continues the theme, its bottle display recalling the slick glamour of an illuminated 1940s jukebox.

It’s not just about the sleek interior, though. Like cutting into an exquisite steak and seeing the glowing red of perfectly cooked meat, the quality goes all the way through.

The restaurant at Hawksmoor's Wood Wharf establishment
The restaurant at Hawksmoor’s Wood Wharf establishment

Cookery

Matt Brown is group executive chef for Hawksmoor and boasts a CV that includes some of London’s best restaurants, including extensive periods working with Marco Pierre White.

He said: “I always wanted to cook. I’m from Chesterfield and I moved to London when I was 16, got an apprenticeship at The Ritz and did that for about four years.  After that I was reading about this guy – Marco – in the newspaper, so I went to work for him for about 20 years. Then I was head chef at Le Tante Claire for Pierre Koffmann for two years.

“But I’ve always wanted to challenge myself. Some of my cheffy friends saw taking the job at Hawksmoor in 2015 as a step down – cooking in a steakhouse – but not at all.

“What we try to do at Hawksmoor is no different from what one, two, or three Michelin-starred restaurants are trying to do. The amount of effort we put into sourcing ingredients and cooking them in the correct way is unbelievable.

“The lengths we go to to get the ultimate chip, for example, are incredible and we do that in all our restaurants – that’s a different ballgame to doing it in one kitchen.

Steaks served at Hawksmoor
Steaks served at Hawksmoor

“Firstly we take great care   selecting the potatoes – if you start with rubbish you’re never going to get a good chip – and then we have a three-day process. We blanch them first in boiling salt water, then chop them up and they go on trays to let the steam out.

“Then they go in the fridge overnight. You have to get as much water out as possible. Then we fry them at 140ºC on the second day and put them back in the fridge.  Then we serve them on the third day, frying them in beef dripping at 180ºC.

“While 80-90% of the menu is set in stone, we’re always trying to do things better, to create more interesting side dishes.

“We work with about 500 farms in the UK – all small producers – where you can select all grass-fed cuts. The menu is cool starters and steakhouse classics, but we want to be about more than just steak, we want to be a great restaurant as well.

“That means having a drinks list, a wine list and food that are all amazing. For me, it ticks all the boxes. You can come here and have what I think is the best steak and chips anywhere. My favourite is probably the rib-eye. It’s flavoursome and has just the right amount of unctuousness – tender, but not too tender.”

Matt’s connection to Canary Wharf dates back two decades to when he met local resident Lisa, who he subsequently married, but the local dining scene was pretty limited then.

“It’s not like it used to be – when I came here a few weeks ago, it was for the first time in 18 or 19 years,” he said. “Initially we were a bit dubious when we first thought about Hawksmoor on a boat – it’s not really what we do.

“But then I saw the restaurant and it’s amazing – what a great venue for anyone to come to.”

The Lowback Bar at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf
The Lowback Bar at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf

Bartending

That spirit of inclusion (pun intended) continues downstairs in The Lowback. Conceived as a venue in its own right, manager Joe Worthington is in command and wants Wharfers to see it as a favoured hangout whether they’re living or working locally.

“Hawksmoor is The Lowback’s big brother so you’re going to get that guaranteed quality, really great food. But the focus down here is on drinks.

“The atmosphere and the service will be just like any Hawksmoor but the lights will be lower and the music a little louder.

“We want it to be a hub for the Wharf. Whether you live or work here we want it to be your local, whether it’s for a cocktail or a pint of Guinness.

“We’ve got a great Martini list and one good thing is that a lot of prep for our drinks is done early – they’re designed so they can be put together in 30 seconds.

“That means we’ll be aiming to deliver drinks to the table in under five minutes for parties of two or three – a little longer if there are more guests.

“In spring the terraces will be open – there’s a further 30 seats on tables out there, bathed in sunlight.

“I imagine that, when people look out of their residential towers or their office blocks, they’re going to see that terrace outside and fancy having a Martini by the water.

“Inside we’ve got this beautiful 10-metre bar with a plethora of drinks on offer.

Manager of The Lowback Joe Worthington
Manager of The Lowback Joe Worthington – image Matt Grayson

“If you want a whisky on the rocks, a pint, a cocktail, we’re at your beck and call. The best place to sit will be at the bar where you can watch your drink being made. You’ll get your own designated bartender and they’ll be happy to talk you through the menu.

“What’s at the forefront of our minds is ensuring we deliver drinks and food with great service.

“We hope that when people come down here we’ll create regulars. The theatre of making drinks will still be there but we want to serve people quickly.

“Nobody comes to a place to stand at the bar for seven minutes. The prices we charge are the industry standard, but what sets Hawksmoor apart isn’t how cheap or expensive we are, it’s the people we employ – the atmosphere and the culture those staff create.

“Before I joined the team, I’d been coming to Hawksmoor for about 10 years and the thing I loved about it was that the bars felt independent while still being encased in the restaurant.

“The Lowback is a stand-alone brand and it’s somewhere that enables us to say yes to people whether that’s accommodating large bookings or two people who just want a quiet drink.”

Read more: Gallio opens Mediterranean restaurant at Canary Wharf

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Canary Wharf: Gallio to offer Mediterranean pizzas and salads at Cabot Place restaurant

Managing director James Porter outlines what the new brand will bring to the fast, casual dining scene

Gallio managing director James Porter
Gallio managing director James Porter – image Matt Grayson

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James Porter is smiling. Canary Wharf’s Cabot Place is about to become home to the first branch of a new restaurant chain and its managing director can’t wait for the doors to open on December 6.

“We’re very excited to bring our new concept here,” said James. “Gallio is where casual dining meets the modern world.

“Guests can order at the till or at their table digitally, which has become much more common now.

“The concept was thought out before Covid, but the pandemic has helped the world’s IT accelerate as it has become a necessity and that’s great for us because it helps our staff focus more on the hospitality side of things.

“Gallio is an independent brand, but we’re part of a wider group of luxury restaurants.

“When guests walk through the door, they should feel that connection to quality, that we’re slightly different from other casual fast dining establishments.

“Hopefully their first perception of the business will be: ‘Wow. I can’t believe I’m getting this product in this place at this price.

“People should feel they’re getting as much value from the restaurant environment as from the food itself – we don’t want anyone to feel they’re less comfortable because we’re serving food to them quickly or that they have to leave immediately.”

Gallio offers salads and pizzas with flavours drawn from all around the Med
Gallio offers salads and pizzas with flavours drawn from all around the Med

Having started working in a restaurant to pay the bills while studying business and marketing at university, James stayed in the industry after graduation.

Having spent most of his career in management for high street casual dining chains, Gallio represents an opportunity to start at the beginning.

“I’ve been in charge of a brand before but in slightly different circumstances,” he said. “That was to do with the acquisition of a brand and maintaining and sustaining it in a different way.

“I’ve brought a lot of that experience here as well as those with the bigger brands I’ve worked for over 14 years including one company that went from a handful of sites to more than 50.

“For me this is going back to the future – back to the process in a different role and taking all that learning with me.”

Gallio has been three years in development and promises to bring something new to the Canary Wharf table.

“It’s a Mediterranean restaurant and that’s a broad term,” said James. “When people think of the Mediterranean, they tend to think of Spain, Italy and Greece, but there are 21 countries which border that sea and our menu represents all of them.

“Pizzas are at the heart of our concept, but even those are different because we bring in influences from other countries, such as Greece, Turkey and Lebanon as well as North Africa.

“Obviously, when you have to have a Margherita, but the other pizzas will have toppings like spiced lamb, grilled aubergine and various other middle eastern ingredients, which you wouldn’t find in an Italian restaurant.

“We’re trying to bring those diverse flavours into our pizzas. Our bases aren’t traditional either.

“We’ve come up with our own unique recipe using grains – it’s more nutritious and high in fibre and protein – so customers can feel a little less guilty when ordering.”

The restaurant will feature a bronze pizza oven
The restaurant will feature a bronze pizza oven

With a tagline of “pizzas and salads” the latter is another major component of Gallio’s menu.

“Like a lot of restaurants, there needs to be something that hauls people in,” said James.

“The majority of people like pizza, they know what it is, and we’ve got a bronze oven, which is a real show-stopper. We’ll also be baking our middle eastern flatbreads in there.

“The other part of our concept is salads, made fresh everyday, and built as you’re ordering, so, whether you’re Vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore, you can select how you want the dish to arrive.

“They’re all made in front of our guests too, so people can see the actual product instead of it coming from a kitchen in the back.

“That means they’ll see how good the salad is, how fresh ingredients are and they can have it their own way.

“Our menu is seasonal so when developing the concept it’s all been about playing with different ingredients and supplies – working out what ingredients we can get and when.

“Then it’s practise and repeat, asking whether we can make the pizzas healthier and more nutritious and work with the vegetables we’re getting.

“As the pandemic approached we were getting ready to launch the brand and open our first restaurant, but we ended up temporarily operating out of central London units and delivering food to people.

“We were refining our menu in the public domain, taking feedback and understanding what guests wanted as well as what they expect in terms of delivery and how our products stood up to travel.

“Most brands wouldn’t have had that amount of time to trial what they want to do but we’ve used this time to really get to know how best to make the products we’re selling.

“Now that we’re going into our first bricks and mortar site, we’ve been able to take that feedback and add to it, expanding what we were doing by offering more dishes than we were selling during the trial period.”

Following the unexpected period of extra development,  there’s a certain amount of pent up excitement to finally be opening in east London.

James said: “Canary Wharf will be a flagship venue for us – to be able to say that we’re here is fantastic.

“It’s a place that everyone knows so it’s an important area for us as a business to have a footprint in, and it’s always been the area that the economy revolves around so opening up here will be good.

“We plan on growing, certainly throughout London and the UK and we also have plans to develop internationally. 

“But the first thing to do is to ensure Canary Wharf is a success and that’s not just from a business point of view.

“If our guests don’t like it then in the end we won’t go anywhere so our focus is that everybody here enjoys themselves. We want any feedback about the brand so we can take it on board and that will show us where we want to go in future.”

Hungry Wharfers (let’s face it, that’s basically all of us at some point) should get their diaries out now and ensure they don’t miss out. Gallio is set to officially open at 11am on December 6.

Customers can expect 100 free pizzas given out via the brand’s social media feeds from 11am on December 8 and 9. Find out more on Facebook and Instagram. 

In the New Year, there will also be a Hot Dinner Offer, with 50% off pizzas for diners visiting the restaurant from January 10-16.

Opening hours from launch until January 3 will initially be 11am-10.30pm.

Personally, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the flavours of Moroccan-spiced chicken, lamb kofte and rose harissa.

Read more: Black Rock reinvents the whisky bar at Republic

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Deptford: Why seafood restaurant Sharkbait ‘N’ Swim is a dream come true

Chef Steve McClarty is one to watch under the yellow brick arches of Deptford Market Yard

Steve McClarty, owner of Sharkbait 'N' Swim
Steve McClarty, owner of Sharkbait ‘N’ Swim – image Matt Grayson

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Steve McClarty – remember that name. Growing up in Croydon, he left school with no GCSEs. A turbulent home life led to him becoming homeless at 17.

A diet of McDonald’s and Subway left him craving nourishment. Living in hostels, he started to cook for friends and fellow residents. 

“At 19 I was at a stage in my life where I decided to move out of London for a bit to get my head in gear and sort my life out,” he said.

“So I moved to Margate on my own – left all my mates behind. It was either a shared house in Croydon for £500 a month or a one-bed flat overlooking the sea with a balcony for £350. 

“But I also knew Thanet College was just down the road in Broadstairs and it was really good for catering. I spent two years studying to be a chef and really found my calling.

“My passion for food came into its own – I found there was something I was good at, that I loved doing and that I wanted to pursue as a career.

“I was fully immersed in it, obsessed – winning distinctions and getting loads of opportunities.

“Then I went into my first restaurant and that’s where the real learning started.”

Steve cooking in Sharkbait’s kitchen – image Matt Grayson

Steve said he found a sense of comradeship he’d never experienced before working in kitchens and winning promotion to the level of sous chef. 

Having gained extensive experience in seafood, cooking in Michelin-starred establishments, he applied for and was cast in BBC2’s The Chefs’ Brigade, travelling across Europe under the guidance of chef Jason Atherton.

“It all happened very quickly, from Italy to Norway, Spain and then the final in Paris. 

“At the end of it all, Jason gave me this bible of all of his recipes, congratulated me on the telly and offered me a job at his flagship restaurant, Pollen Street Social in Mayfair. But I knew I always wanted to do what I’m doing now and so I decided to decline it. 

“Instead I got a job as an events chef at Google, which was a completely different style of cooking. I was running the operation between five buildings – making sure all the produce and chefs were in the right place. 

“There was a lot of logistics involved and I really enjoyed seeing a different side of the industry.”

Prawns cooking ready to join mussels and orzo
Prawns cooking ready to join mussels and orzo – image Matt Grayson

It would also prove invaluable experience for the realisation of his long-term dream – to open his own restaurant.

A brick arch in Deptford Market Yard is where we pick the story up, with a sandwich board outside, a lobster pot resting casually against it and a pink and blue neon sign that wouldn’t look out of place in 1980s Las Vegas.

Sharkbait ‘N’ Swim first launched over lockdown. It went a little something like this: 

Restrictions arrive and Steve’s girlfriend Maria Leach joins him in a shared house in Brixton. The couple decide to escape by buying a narrowboat named Roz to live on. They dislike the name and plan to rechristen her Damp Squirrel at the earliest opportunity.

On the day she sets sail, Steve proposes. Now engaged, the couple sail around southern England, still both working from home for Google and eventually pitch up in Guildford. 

The restaurant's punch neon sign
The restaurant’s punch neon sign – image Matt Grayson

Once there, Steve opens up the duck-feeding hatch and starts selling seafood orzo to passers-by with Maria taking payments via a card reader in the bow of their boat. Following this success, Steve secures a pop-up in Lewisham and storms Model Market.

“Four weeks ago we got the keys to this space at Deptford Market Yard and we’ve done a complete kit-out in three weeks,” said Steve. “We’ve just opened and we’ve been sold out every night.

“Sharkbait ‘N’ Swim is my baby. This is my dream, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s an intimate, small sharing plates restaurant serving fresh oysters, really fresh seafood, some vegan options and a couple of meat options too – something for everyone.

“I wanted an environment where people could sit together, share the food and get talking about it. There are four of us – me, another chef and we’ve just taken on an extra person front of house.

“Maria is the operations manager/absolute legend. She’s been so supportive of my dream and she sees my vision – I’ve got big plans, to make a name for myself here and then expand to multiple sites.”

A selection of Steve's small plates, costing up to £9.50
A selection of Steve’s small plates, costing up to £9.50 – image Matt Grayson

I could try to convey Steve’s passion for the food he creates and cooks in print, but printed words could never do it justice.

He fizzes with excitement as he runs through lists of ingredients, foraging trips and inspiration – driven, focused, inventive. 

Fortunately Sharkbait ‘N’ Swim has an open kitchen so he can interact with diners while making plates of smoked salmon croquetas, skate wing with cod roe in a caper beurre blanc or Goan curry mussels with a fresh naan bread puffed up on the barbecue. 

Deeply rooted in sustainability, the name of his restaurant reflects his view that nobody should be eating an apex predator (or tuna), accompanied by the ripples in the water his and Maria’s home makes as it moves around.

“I want to take people on a journey to all the places I’ve been and cooked in – I want to put my personality on the plate,” said Steve. “This is a fun, sociable restaurant serving sick food, mate.”

That says it all. Having sampled some of Steve’s menu, I’ll be back for the rest and, frankly, just to have his vegan vanilla poached pear with a chocolate mousse made from tofu and maple syrup again. Go now.

Sharkbait's vegan vanilla poached pear with chocolate mousse
Sharkbait’s vegan vanilla poached pear with chocolate mousse – image Matt Grayson

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Wapping: Why baked goods from Wapping Sourdough have a real flavour of the area

How Robin Weekes and Clare Kelly create and sell their loaves and baguettes fresh at London Dock

Robin Weekes and Clare Kelly of Wapping Sourdough
Robin Weekes and Clare Kelly of Wapping Sourdough – image Matt Grayson

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BY LAURA ENFIELD

Parents of six, Robin Weekes and Clare Kelly, say their youngest and most temperamental seventh “child” has been the hardest to raise.

The husband and wife team have spent the last decade wrangling baking business Wapping Sourdough through its startling birth, challenging toddlerhood and now maturing childhood.

They went from launching at the London 2012 Games and finding success selling their products at markets to striking out on their own at Thomas Moore Square in Wapping.

Now they have entered a new phase of the business with a food van at London Dock, selling their sourdough loaves, filled baguettes and cakes. There are also plans to expand into coffee and toasties.

Robin said through the whole journey, one thing had remained the same – their doughy child – a 20-year-old mixture of water, flour and salt that needs constant attention.

“Sourdough is the best bread in the world and it’s made from only three ingredients,” said the 58-year-old.

“But you have to look after your starter every day or it dies. I have taken it through customs, on aeroplanes and on holiday. 

“The flour ferments and has a bacterial culture in it and a wild yeast culture that makes the bread rise. It’s massively temperamental and takes so long to get it so you can make real sourdough and not use commercial yeast.”

Clare added: “It can’t be neglected. I think a lot of people in lockdown started making it, but the fact you are then committed put a lot of people off.

“It’s amazing when you see it bubbling and growing. When Robin started it was like a science experiment and he had pots and jars of starter around the kitchen that would hiss and sometimes explode.

“Everyone who came round the house had it shoved in their face to smell.”

Wapping Sourdough's filled baguettes
Wapping Sourdough’s filled baguettes – image Matt Grayson

Robin rises at 5am every morning to tend to his creation, heading to the bakery expansion on their home in Vaughan Road, which they built after landing £20,000 contracts for the London 2012 Games.

“I was a social worker in child protection for 20 years and bread making was an obsessive hobby,” he said.

“I was so into sourdough from when it first became popular. I built a brick oven in the garden and started making it with the kids. 

“I made it for charity and people started wanting to buy it. Then I saw an advert in East End Life for the Olympics, looking for local producers.

“I made an application, very naively as we weren’t a business – we were just doing market stalls on a Saturday. 

“We won two contracts for the corporate events for three weeks of work, despite competition from Angela Hartnett, so I gave up social work and set up a bakery.”

From there the couple were invited to sell at St Katharine Docks market with Clare stepping naturally into the business side of the partnership and fitting running the stall around looking after their children.

The 55-year-old said: “We had just had our sixth child when we launched the business and I think we were quite lucky in our relationship that I was able to stay at home and Robin was the breadwinner.

“It all happened accidentally really, our youngest was two when we got the opportunity to do the market at St Katharine Docks and these were always in school hours so I could drop the kids off and then pack up in time to pick them up.

“The people who used to run the market owned Partridges food store on the King’s Road invited us to do their Saturday market, which we did for seven years and really gave us a boost. 

“We did 10 different breads then and that was a lot harder for Robin because we would start on the Saturday evening, mixing the doughs and going right through to Saturday morning baking.”

So, the obvious question is, which is harder – making sourdough or raising six kids?

“Well I wouldn’t have got up that early for the kids and Robin never had to,” said Clare.

“I used to breastfeed and they were all in bed with us when they were little so he never had to wake up at all.

“But now he has to get up at 4am so I would say the six kids are easier. 

“One changes your life completely and two seems like hard work because you can’t split yourself. After three it doesn’t make any difference.”

Robin stayed diplomatically silent but said making sourdough was much less demanding than his previous career.

“It’s so ancient and there is so much respect for bread,” he said. “What I can’t get over is the amount of respect people have. 

“I was a senior manager in social work and I think I get more kudos now for making the bread than I ever did as a social worker. 

“It’s really important to people and our culture. I’ve had kids round from the local school, teaching them about bread and how to make it.”

He is keeping the secret of his sourdough to himself but said: “I can only make the bread I do now because I have been doing it for 20 years. It takes that long.

“The consistency is really difficult to achieve. You can look at a YouTube video and you might get lucky and make a great loaf the first time but I doubt you’d make a great loaf 10 times on the trot. 

“It’s something you have to judge all the time because we don’t have temperature controls and proving machines like in a professional bakery so you have to change what you are doing throughout the year. 

“Now winter is coming the bread tastes different and every loaf has a  varied flavour, which is what I love about it. You are not just churning out the same thing every day.” 

Robin said his bread didn’t taste like any other in the world because people were imbibing the very essence of Wapping itself.

“When you start learning about yeast you realise that it’s everywhere – pretty much on everything, on us and just flying around. 

“That’s where the name Wapping Sourdough comes from – the flavour of the bread is unique to wherever it’s created. You can’t recreate San Francisco sourdough here because the yeast is latent in the air. Hence why we’re Wapping Sourdough.”

Wapping Sourdough's focaccia
Wapping Sourdough’s focaccia – image Matt Grayson

Robin bakes about 25 loaves (£3.50 for 800g) a day, 50 vegetarian and vegan baguettes (£3) with fillings that include handmade hummus and pesto, focaccia with olive and sundried tomatoes (£3 a slice), 30 cakes and 20 flapjacks (£1.50).

The couple, whose other hobby is performing in panto for their local church St Patrick’s, had a crisis last year when flour supplies dried up during lockdown.

Clare said: “Everyone was going crazy buying supplies and we thought we would be stopped in our tracks. We just couldn’t get any.”

Luckily they managed to get a direct supply from Wright’s Flour and carried on. But Robin said the pandemic saw sales plummet from 150 baguettes a day to nine.

They survived by launching a home delivery and a pizza service but have now stopped those to focus on trading with the van.

Robin said: “Now we’re in the right place at the right time and it’s a really good deal for us. We want to take it forward and try to add to our repertoire.

“It’s got a coffee machine and electricity which opens up a world of opportunity for us. We’ll be starting to do Vagabond Coffee, sourdough melts and who knows what else?  

“I still love that it seems like a really honest transaction. We make something, people give us money for it and we can make a living from that. It is stressful in terms of it being hard, physical work but there isn’t that mental stress behind it. 

“We had the philosophy right from the start that we would only buy equipment once we had earned the money for it rather than paying it back later.”

Clare was previously out in Thomas Moore Square with a gazebo or umbrella and constantly watching the weather forecast.

She said London Dock bosses invited them to take on the van and have made it an easy transition for them.

Bake Off fan Clare hopes it is a step towards an easier life as she dreams of one day owning a shop.

“So far the business has really fitted in with our lifestyle, we could take time off for trips and assemblies, but now the kids are getting older, I would like to have a shop so we get other people who can do our jobs if needed.”

Robin, who reckons he could get a handshake from Paul Hollywood, but prefers Masterchef, said: “I’m quite happy. 

“Even though it’s been a long time I still feel very lucky to be able to do it. We still have two kids at home and I work from home and still get to spend a lot of time with them.”

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Stratford: Haugen opens its doors at The Pavilion in Endeavour Square

D&D London chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena tells us all about the new restaurant, cafe and bar

D&D London chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena
D&D London chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena

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Look at the cranes poking up behind The Pavilion at International Quarter London’s Endeavour Square in Stratford.

They, and the structures emerging from the top of its wooden ripples, herald the concrete arrival of nearby East Bank.  

They mean the BBC, Sadler’s Wells, the V&A, UCL and UAL are all on their way to east London and that’s just one of the reasons that Des Gunewardena sounds so cheerful on the phone.

While I couldn’t see the chairman and CEO of restaurant group D&D London during our chat, his voice held an easy, upbeat tone and no wonder.

The company he runs, which operates more than 40 venues in the capital and overseas, has just opened Haugen.

Spread across all three floors of The Pavilion, it stands on the main path from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to Westfield Stratford City and, crucially, the area’s multiple stations.

That also puts it squarely on the route not only for West Ham’s regular influx of fans, but also the forthcoming footfall for East Bank

It’s a fair bet the inhabitants of its arts and educational establishments will need a decent place to unwind and that’s what Des and his team aim to provide. 

The Pavilion sits in Stratford's Endeavour Square
The Pavilion sits in Stratford’s Endeavour Square

“Firstly, it’s in an amazing building, so hats off to Lendlease – the developer – for building it,” he said. “They approached D&D about doing restaurants in it, because they know we take  on madly big and crazy spaces, so we were perfect for The Pavilion.

“It’s a very bold design – when I first saw it, I thought that it was a real statement and the thing about that is it has to be good, otherwise people will hate it.

“They worked with Acme, who are top-class architects and really know what they are doing. They’ve created a very beautiful building, with all the curved wood and the glass – it is a total eye-catcher.

“When people first saw the building, I don’t think they knew what it was – whether it was  going to be a museum or a gallery?

“It has that central staircase and looks terribly grand for housing restaurants, cafes and bars.

“People asked me if it was going to be a Japanese restaurant, because it looked like a great pavilion from Kyoto.”

Spurred on from the success of its German Gymnasium in King’s Cross, however, D&D had other ideas for the space.

“The reason we’ve created the restaurant we have is because we felt the building looked like a beautiful modern chalet in Switzerland,” said Des.

“We’ve had big success with German Gymnasium so we wanted to do a bit of a variant on that. The food at Haugen is Swiss Alpine so you’ve got your raclettes, your tartiflettes and your fondues – those are the things that are flying out of the kitchen at the moment.

“We wanted to create the feeling of being in a restaurant in a ski resort – imagine coming inside from a windswept Stratford to open fires, wood and warm lighting and cosy furnishings.”

Haugen features a rooftop bar area
Haugen features a rooftop bar area

Haugen, which turns out to be a Norwegian word meaning ‘mound’, boasts a cafe-brasserie on its ground floor and a rooftop bar, sculpted to form an amphitheatre overlooking the square below with a second space open to East Bank and the park beyond. 

The restaurant proper – located on the first floor of the building and accessible by lift for those who don’t fancy climbing the stairs outside, is set to open on November 1.

Prior to that happening, diners can get a feel for things in the brasserie with two courses for £14.50 or three for £18.50 via a set menu that features dishes including truffled potato soup, Tiroler Wurstsalat with pork sausage and Emmental cheese, Alpine meatballs with raclette and Vegan schnitzel club roll with red pepper hummus.

The a la carte menu is heavy on the cheese, sausage and schnitzel options too, with numerous sharing options including a butcher’s platter of pork, chicken, bratwurst, red cabbage and potato dumplings. 

Mains are typically around the £20 mark and there is plenty of cake, gateau, torte and strudel to finish for about £7.

“Haugen is a bit of a guilty pleasure type restaurant in terms of the food,” said Des.

“Most people manage their food on the basis of what they eat the whole week, so occasionally you can go and have a lovely bottle of wine and a good old tartiflette, which is really good value at £12.50.

“I don’t honestly know if Germanic food is having a moment – we don’t really follow trends. We have the German Gymnasium and that’s very successful and we recently opened a restaurant in Bristol called Klosterhaus, which also serves Germanic food and that’s doing pretty well too.

“There are certainly more men and women drinking steins of beer in the places we run. Our main concern is doing things we think will be fun and that are going to work.”

While the longer-term future of Stratford looks bright with the influx of businesses, cultural institutions and housing developments ensuring the area will only become busier, it’s a short term shortage that has delayed Haugen’s full launch.

“As a business we’re struggling with staff,” said Des. “We’re currently employing about 1,700 people across London, but we are desperately short. 

“For Haugen it suited us to open the brasserie and the rooftop bar to get the kitchen and the front-of-house team working so we can fully open in November.

“The problem for us is you can’t take young kids off the street and have them serve customers who are spending £100 a head on dinner. They want people who know what they’re talking about in terms of wine, food and so on.

“The Government’s view is that we should just suck it up, pay everyone a bit more money and they’ll all come – that’s like a Sixth Form economic theory response in practice.

“Right now, for the skilled and semi-skilled jobs, particularly in the kitchen, the staff are not there. It’s not an easy issue to resolve, but provided we have control over immigration, why would we not want to ease up on visas and get more people in to work to help the economy, the NHS and the care sector?

“We are working almost day and night on initiatives to get more people into our industry, our business – those who were working in other sectors or different kinds of restaurants and that’s how we are addressing the problem at least for ourselves.” 

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Canary Wharf: German Doner Kebab opens restaurant on top floor of Cabot Place

Berlin-born fast food brand unveils its 71st branch as it promises products made with lean meats

An Original German Doner Kebab from the Canary Wharf branch
An Original German Doner Kebab from the Canary Wharf branch

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Much change is afoot at the top of Cabot Place’s mighty cylinder of escalators. Ride to the top and you’ll find hoardings abound as a fresh crop of restaurants moves in to Canary Wharf.

Lewis Hamilton’s plant-based Neat Burger is soon to arrive as is Marugame Udon, which promises to supply oodles of noodles.

Already open though is German Doner Kebab as the chain continues its roll-out across the UK. Canary Wharf is its 71st branch in this country with a further 26 in the pipeline worldwide this year.

We called up the chain’s managing director for UK and Europe, Daniel Bunce, to find out what Wharfers can expect from this emerging powerhouse of fast food.

what is GDK?

Our brand was born in Berlin in 1989 and expanded at the end of the century into the Middle East to Dubai. Then we came to the UK in 2015. We had six restaurants here at the end of 2017 and Canary Wharf is our 71st opening.

There is a fight about whether Germany or Turkey invented this kebab concept. Germany laid claim to it in 1971. What we offer is different from a  Turkish kebab.

We serve beef and chicken – you’ll notice I didn’t mention lamb. That’s where we differ. Both our beef and chicken skewers contain 93% pure lean meat with the rest seasoning and binding – that’s probably double the meat content you’d find in a standard kebab.

what should people try?

We’d always recommend you start with our Original German Doner Kebab with either meat or a mixture.

It’s such a great product – that combination of the bread, the sauces, the salad and the meat. It’s the right one to go to.

what other options are there?

We have an option called the Doner Box, which contains all the ingredients in a kebab and fries but allows you to avoid the bread – that’s great as a lunchtime snack.

We’re famous for a product we call the Boss Box, which has a rather large and grand feel. It was conceived during lockdown, originally for click and collect but it’s proven to be a huge hit with customers.

You get a choice of kebab, sauces and a choice of fries – we do different kinds such as spicy flaming fries, cheesy fries and curry fries.

We also have a home-grown product, which we invented called the Doner Spring Roll. We take our meats, add some jalapenos and a spring roll pastry, so you get a full meal in a box, with a drink, which you could eat outside, if the sun is shining, or it’s very handy to take back to your office and it’s not going to create a mess. It’s proving very popular.

MORE FOOD IN CANARY WHARF
Kaleido offers salads in rice paper roles
Yole sells sugar-free ice cream and frozen yoghurt
Urban Greens offers punchy salad bowls

what else are people ordering?

We do a selection of burgers with kebab meat in a brioche bun. We launched the Doritos Crunch Burger as a limited offer but it’s proved so popular it’s become a staple part of the menu.

Basically it’s our standard burger jazzed up using Doritos crisps and some melted cheese, which gives us another flavour.

We also have healthier options like the gym box which has up to 44g of protein and no carbs.

The Canary Wharf branch is already attracting a flow of diners
The Canary Wharf branch is already attracting a flow of diners

why Canary Wharf?

It’s a prime real estate – a really prestigious venue and the consumer here is very much our target demographic.

We’ve opened up in very nearly every major city in the UK and we know that our customers are young professionals, although our products are also eaten by families at the weekend.

what’s the restaurant like?

We don’t look like a kebab shop – we’re very bright with lots of colours and our kitchens are all behind glass.

We don’t hide anything from our guests. All the veg that we use is prepared in the morning, or during the day, depending on the levels of business.

We don’t carry any skewers of meat or any of our salad into the next day. So if you look into our kitchens last thing at night or first thing in the morning, there’s no leftover food – everything’s fresh and every single order is prepared in front of the customer. We’re very proud of that. We like to say that we serve quality food done fast.

what about sustainability?

We operate with very little waste – we use the meat from our kebabs in your spring rolls and our vegetables are prepared on a day-to-day basis and we top up later in shift if we need to.

We shave our meat very thinly so our products need to be wrapped up well to ensure everything is kept in the best possible condition, but we’ve made a conscious effort in the last couple of years to reduce the amount of plastic we use.

We want to do more and it’s definitely something we’re working on as well as with our suppliers to overcome the challenges that are presented by a business of our scale.

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Canary Wharf: Emilia’s Crafted Pasta prepares to open flagship at Wood Wharf

The restaurant and bar is set for the ground floor at 12 George Street and features table bocce

Emilia's Crafted Pasta founder Andrew Macleod
Emilia’s Crafted Pasta founder Andrew Macleod – image Matt Grayson

Five years ago, Andrew Macleod opened the first branch of Emilia’s Crafted Pasta at St Katherine Docks in east London. Following its success he opened a second, larger establishment in Aldgate in 2019.

Born of a passion for good pasta and a desire to bring it to Londoners freshly made, served with a punchy array of sauces and at a reasonable price, the brand continue to grow.

Now Andrew and his team are preparing to launch Emilia’s flagship restaurant at Wood Wharf, with the doors expected to open in November.

That will place his dishes within easy walking distance of the whole Canary Wharf estate, not to mention much of the Isle Of Dogs, for the first time.

“Wood Wharf is an evolved concept,” said Andrew. “Part of what we do at Emilia’s is to keep everything simple and fresh. That’s what we stand by in terms of our food, our business and how we run stuff.

“Whenever we go into an area, we want to be part of it, not impostors. So, what we’ve done with Wood Wharf is to have half the restaurant as more of an all-day bar – for example, there will be a tabletop version of bocce, an Italian game similar to French boules.

“Wood Wharf is going to be a neighbourhood where people come to work, live and enjoy themselves, so what we wanted was the space to be tailored to that.

“For me, that means I want people to walk in, play a bit of bocce, have a drink, a coffee and a catch up, or for them to be hanging out, sitting on a beautiful terrace overlooking the water and the park, eating pasta and drinking cocktails.

“The idea is that you’re coming into a bustling trattoria in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy – a place the whole concept pays homage to, both its food and the techniques used to make it.

“For me, the vision is that we want to bring 100% natural, affordable, fresh pasta to as many people as possible, in a way that respects those traditions, and feels very casual and Italian

“The more we can spread that, the happier I’ll be. We’re not in a rush, we’re not here just to open other branches – we just want to make this one right.”

The Wood Wharf restaurant will feature table bocce
The Wood Wharf restaurant will feature table bocce

The new restaurant will be located on the ground floor at 12 George Street, overlooking Harbour Quay Gardens and the boardwalk along West India South Dock. Inside visitors can expect rustic wooden furniture, plenty of marble and hand-painted tiles.

New dishes are promised, alongside Emilia’s core menu, which offers bowls of pasta costing between £8 and £14 – the Canary Wharf bar is also expected to offer a range of cocktails based on locally sourced fruits and Italian spirits. 

At full capacity, the restaurant will be able to accommodate 100 diners with 70 inside and 30 outdoors.

Andrew said: “For me, launching a pasta restaurant never had anything to do with trends. When I was at university, I loved pasta, but I was really disappointed, because I’d moved out of home and was trying to find good places that did it and the only ones  were big chains.

“About 10 years ago most of it was just frozen and horrible and places were charging £15 a bowl. You could pay £20 and get something a bit more high-end but I felt that didn’t really represent pasta in the way it was traditionally consumed in Italy, informally.

“I thought if Emilia’s could make pasta that was significantly better than what people were having at home in the UK, then we would be in with a shot as a brand.

“At the heart of Emilia’s, from day one, has always been that all our food is 100% natural.

“We make it on-site, start to finish, and anything we source, comes from people who are suppliers of food that I would eat every day at home myself and be proud to do so.

“That’s how we’ve built it, and we’ve never stepped away from that. We started in St Katharine Docks in November 2016. We had some nights in the early days without a single customer, but slowly people discovered us and we built up a following.

A bowl of pasta at Emilia's
A bowl of pasta at Emilia’s – image Matt Grayson

“Then we got so busy we decided to expand. Aldgate came in 2019 and now we have this fabulous opportunity to open in Wood Wharf.

“We want to be at the forefront of showcasing that, as a young brand, without much funding, you can, with tight cost control, a good team and a good culture, build something very meaningful, and we’ve grown organically from day one. Each of our restaurants comes off the back of our previous operation.

“For us, the key thing is that, if you do something sustainably, it should be able to continue for a very long time without damaging the world or the people who are with you.

“Most of our managers have been with us for more than three years. When Covid hit, we didn’t sack anyone, we paid furlough and topped up people’s wages because that’s who we are.

“Emilia’s is like a family, it lives on. It’s got to be that people are coming to work happy, doing their shift and going home happy. That’s our company culture.

“It’s about being able to see that you’re leaving the world a better place for all the people who have been part of the journey – that’s what sustainability is all about.

“When a business is built, you create jobs, livelihoods. You develop people, help them grow and, hopefully, the soil somewhere is better because it gets properly kept as farmers are following sustainable agriculture and processes to make it better. That’s what it’s about, and that’s what we strive towards.

“I’m very excited to be opening this restaurant and that we’re continuing our mission in one of London’s most exciting developments in a beautiful setting surrounded by green spaces and water.”

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