September, the traditional harvest month and this year it’ll see the fourth Urban Food Fortnight, when community growers and restaurateurs come together to celebrate London’s finest food producers, their heritage and the stories of ultra-local production and put the best of the capital’s larder on the menu.
By way of a warm-up for the two week festival, the organisers hosted Get Connected event this week; a match-making and networking event for producers and restaurants. It was terrific to see so many SRA Members there, eager to find out more about the incredible array of food produced on their doorstep. Run by London Food Link, the campaign is going to take place on 11-27 September when there is an abundance of British produce and London’s gardens are flourishing, so now is the time to start thinking about what you want on your menu?
The Imperial, a Three Star SRA Member, already excelling when it comes to sourcing local produce, hosted the event which gave a fabulous flavour of the incredible variety of produce that London has to offer, including London Crayfish and bakeries working with young offenders. There was also traditional mead and a great range of vegetable pickles – just to name a few of the vast array.
Shaun Alpine-Crabtree, set up The Table Cafe in Southwark 10 years ago, and has been involved in UFF since the beginning. He explains that everything in his business is about building strong relationships, whether that’s with customers or suppliers. UFF has given him the opportunity to connect with a scheme he feels deeply about, and offers a way to celebrate relationships, showing people that they really work. He explains that through UFF he met Rosemary Djeboo, who for years now has been providing The Table with herbs, flowers and damsons. Shaun explain that these relationships show your staff and customers that you can make these connections really special and share the culinary stories of London.
Sam Smith, manager of Sutton Community Farm on the edge of South London provides a veg box scheme for restaurants, and explains that London is buzzing with food enterprises with lots of activities going on. Therefore, it’s important to explore these areas and join these local networks in order to develop strong, long-term relationships.
Last year’s festival fortnight witnessed some fantastic creations from SRA members, such as Mews of Mayfair’s Field to Fork menu. It’s not too late to get involved in this year’s Urban Food Fortnight campaign, so we’d encourage you to join the network, get involved, start forming these relationships and share your stories! Food with a narrative – your customers will love it.