SPOON IN A NUTSHELL
By Marina Hopkins
After four weeks of posting on Spoon’s blog, I realise that I have not yet introduced myself. I am “the intern”. I hasten to add that there is an unfortunate irony to this introduction, because today is my final day working in the Spoon office… and I couldn’t be more sorry to say goodbye. As I sit at my desk, struggling to ward off a post-Bulgarian breakfast coma (to our delight, Nora arrived this morning with a hot breakfast feast including her famous homemade banitsa), I think back over the activities of this past month: a whirlwind of blog-writing…researching food festivals, Manhattan neighbourhoods and Madrid restaurants…meeting chefs and restaurateurs…dining at Brasserie Zédel for Bastille day in Breton stripes and berets…meeting some of London’s most fabulous food bloggers at a dinner hosted by Sarah at Granger & Co. in Clerkenwell…and above all working alongside five exceptionally talented, charming and capable women whose professional expertise I have admired from day one. But, instead of recounting my experience in a sentimental swan song, I will put this early onset of nostalgia to good use and give you the lowdown on who and on what I have been learning about during my time here, alongside filling you in on a selection of news and things to look out for over the upcoming weeks and months.
Osteria Francescana, Modena – Franceschetta 58, Modena
Calls and emails to and from Modena are constantly flying in and out of the Spoon office, as Massimo Bottura and his restaurants Osteria Francescana and Franceschetta 58 in his native Italian town continue to create a stir of excitement all over the world. Things for Massimo are more exciting than ever, as the release of his latest book, ‘Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef’ (his first book to be published in English) is fast approaching; it will arrive on the shelves in October of this year. The release will be followed by an international book tour in the US, Canada, Italy, UK, Australia and Hong Kong. Projects for next year are already in the pipelines, including Massimo’s participation in the 2015 Milan “Feeding the Planet”-themed Expo, which will include his discussion and demonstration of how to use leftovers creatively. Click here to hear Massimo talk more about the inspiration and evolution of his creative processes.
Earlier this year, Massimo Bottura expanded his list of internationally-renowned restaurants to include Ristorante Italia in what is fast becoming the world’s trendiest city… Istanbul. Ever since, journalists and photographers from some of the most widely read magazines all over the globe have been flocking to Bottura’s eastern outpost to get a taste of the famous Italian chef’s latest offerings from a menu that takes classic dishes from traditional Italian cuisine and reflects upon them critically and without nostalgia. Click here to read our blog post about the Istanbul restaurant.
Granger & Co, Notting Hill – Granger & Co, Clerkenwell
Australian self-taught chef Bill Granger has added to his repertoire of restaurants with the recently opened Granger & Co. in Clerkenwell, where his corn-fritters, dancing bonito pizza and (my mouth waters in anticipation of even typing this) pistachio and rose-cream pavlova continue to take London by storm. Like the recipes found in his cookbooks, the menu is a mélange of innovative and unusual ingredients (the red eye mayo that accompanies the tempura shrimp, consisting of homemade mayonnaise with siracha chilli sauce and espresso, comes to mind) with an added pinch of refreshing simplicity, whilst the restaurant’s atmosphere oozes with that much-loved laid-back Aussie charm that can be found in any of Bill Granger’s restaurants around the world.
I’ve always been intrigued by Niklas Ekstedt’s concept for his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant, Ekstedt, in Stockholm. The Swedish-born chef chooses to defy twenty-first century technology, instead turning exclusively to the far more primal and far more interesting cooking methods of heat, soot, ash, smoke and fire. The restaurant is currently closed for summer, but will be reopening in mid-August. I don’t know about you, but my long-fantasised trip to Sweden is now not even remotely in question.
Juni, New York
This has been one of my favourite projects to be involved with during my time at Spoon. Since its opening last autumn, Juni, the boutique Manhattan restaurant of award-winning Australian chef Shaun Hergatt, has been catching eyes and taste buds with its exquisitely fresh, vivid and artistically-designed dishes, a breath of fresh air in the heart of the concrete jungle. The latest news from Juni is the very recent launch of its Vegetarian Lunch Tasting Menu, which arrived on the scene earlier this month, making the most of ingredients as they come into season. Click here to read about it in our recent blog post, where you will also find the menu itself along with more photos of some of Shaun Hergatt’s culinary masterpieces.
Masters of the preserving jar (…and jam jar…and terrine), Le Parfait have recently collaborated with YouTube sensation, French Guy Cooking, who stars in this short-film cooking-lesson, teaching viewers how to make homemade Persian jam with sweet carrots and spicy cardamom… a perfect match for Le Parfait jam jars:
To read our blog post on Le Parfait’s collaboration with French Guy Cooking, click here.
More recently, over the past couple of days we’ve been busy on Twitter setting up a competition in celebration of preserve-royalty Thane Prince’s latest recipe book, “Perfect Preserves”. We’ll be giving away five copies of the book, as well as a selection of highly sought after Le Parfait jars. Sound tempting? Find Le Parfait on Twitter (@leparfaittweets) to learn more.
Petersham Nurseries Café, London
During this slightly unbelievable spell of good weather in London (I apologise profusely if I speak too soon), there could not be a more blissful way to enjoy these summer afternoons than with lunch or tea at Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond, stepping out of the rush of the metropolis and into a haven of tranquility, greenery, and exceptionally good food. A highlight of the season is the Petersham Nurseries Supper Club, when visitors have the chance to dine by candle-light in this enchanted setting, exclusive to the summer months. Click here for bookings.
Le Quartier Francais & The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, South Africa
Not too long ago, we were told at Spoon that Margot Janse, executive chef at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, South Africa (which currently ranks 72 in top 100 World’s Best Restaurant Awards), will be participating in UK food festival, CHEFstock, on September 9th. Margot will be collaborating with Alyn Williams in the kitchen of his Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant at The Wesbtury in Mayfair to create an original eight-course tasting menu for one night only. An opportunity not to be missed, if you ask me.
The first thing I learned about Hedone, which received a Michelin star within a year of opening, is that its head chef Mikael Jonsson makes the best bread in London. No, the UK. No, the world! And the bread is only the beginning… just as this is only the beginning of Spoon’s relationship with Hedone as we’ve only officially begun working with them in the past few weeks. Judging by Jonsson’s shining reputation, by the restaurant’s outstanding reviews and, of course, by the bread, we can all be sure that there are very exciting things to come from this West London kitchen.
World’s Best Female Chef Award 2014
As part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, Veuve Clicquot annually presents a special award to the World’s Best Female Chef, which this year went to Brazilian chef Helena Rizzo. As festivities in Brazil come to a close this summer, so does our project working with the Veuve Clicquot Best Female Chef Award 2014. Take a look at this video for a glimpse into the tea party hosted by Veuve Clicquot at Ametsa in April of this year to honour Helena Rizzo as she was crowned the world’s top female chef:
…And then there’s Greg Malouf, Stephen Terry, The Hardwick in Abergavenny, and Mark Best and his restaurant Marque in Sydney, Nathan Myhrvold and Modernist Cuisine, all of whose names I have heard and whose pictures I have seen, but are projects that I haven’t been working on during my time here at Spoon.
To truly encapsulate my time here in a nutshell, I will say this: working at Spoon PR has been a dream. I have learnt about an entire industry from a group of people who could not be more clued in and passionate about it, and it has whetted my appetite (I couldn’t mean that more literally after working on projects involving some of the most exquisite food on the planet) for my own professional future in the alluring world of food and restaurant PR.