London Sourcing Trip written by apprentice James Letcher
The Cornwall Food Foundation recently whisked the Fifteen apprentices off to London with an itinerary that would have any foodie excited. During the two amazing days on the road we managed to visit one of our key suppliers, attend a food festival, meet our brothers and sisters at Fifteen London and eat at one of Jamie’s awe inspiring Italians restaurants.
Our first stop tucked away in the corner of an industrial estate close to Wimbledon was La Credenza. La Credenza is an importer and distributor of Italian artisan food starting from humble beginnings back in 2001 where Fabio Antoniazzi would travel around in his van selling to London’s restaurants. Their product range includes cheeses and charcuterie, fruit, vegetables and confectionery.
The La Credenza team gave us a tour of their warehouse talking us through their products and explaining their passion for seasonal Italian produce. These guys really know their stuff, talking us through flavours, textures, the regions of Italy and the products they originate from, even down to the small family businesses that produce them. It’s no surprise that these guys have some high profile customers including Harrods, Selfridges and us, to name but a few.
Our next stop was at Taste of London, which is a foodie’s dream, a four day celebration of flavour experiences boasting over 160 dishes from 40 of London’s hottest restaurants. It has everything from interactive classes, wine, champagne and beer tasting, critically acclaimed chefs demonstrating live on stage to over 200 artisan producers, kitchen suppliers and major brands all keen to talk about everything food.
Within seconds of entering the festival grounds free samples were coming my way. All the apprentices attended Michel Roux Jr’s demonstration over at the Electrolux theatre, with some of us getting our cook books signed and photos with one of our idols. We then indulged in the festival delights, my chosen pop ups to dine with were Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Maze’ offering delicious European cuisine; one of London’s newest and exciting Mexican restaurants called ‘Peyote’; but my favourite and final indulgence was Theo Randall’s ‘Intercontinental’; which has previously been awarded Italian restaurant of the year.
We all met up in the breakfast bar for 9am and headed to Fifteen London for one of the most memorable breakfasts I have ever experienced.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted and given a guided tour of the restaurant. The style and menu are completely different from our own offering, a take on a modern British cuisine style, but still with the finest seasonal ingredients. It’s set over two floors with the main kitchen downstairs and a smaller kitchen on the ground floor with the mast amazing wood fired oven.
The breakfast! Such a fantastic spread, everything had a Mexican theme, re-fried beans, salsas, wraps, home-made guacamole which still had succulent avocado chunks left in, eggs, yoghurts, roasted veggies, pineapple pancakes and a melody of herbs and citrus fruits to sprinkle and squeeze all over this feast. We were also lucky enough to visit Jamie’s food teams, to stand in one of your idols demo kitchens featured in TV shows and cook books is quite an experience. I would just like to say thank you to the Fifteen London team for your hospitality and I look forward to seeing you all again when you come to Cornwall in a few weeks.
The next stop was one of London’s most renowned food markets; Borough market, famous for British and international produce with history dating back to 1014, it really is a big part of British food heritage. Here we saw everything you could imagine fruit, veg, cheeses, pasta, meats, fish and a few other things I’m still not sure what they were! Everybody here sleeps and breathes food, such passion from every trader eager to let you try their products and most traders can talk your socks off with the back story of the strangest of origins for some of their produce.
The grand finale for our trip was an outstanding meal at Jamie’s Italian on Threadneedle Street. The grade two listed building formally a bank has been transformed into a roomy and contemporary Italian restaurant. We were greeted to a large table laden with antipasti, some of the dishes we tried included; hand-picked Devon crab with shaved fennel, cherry tomatoes, chilli and capers, also Norfolk free range grilled chicken breast, confit wing, crispy liver, braised savoy cabbage and a marsala jus and grilled fish of the day which was trout on a bed of peperonata with pesto pine nuts and micro leaves. For desserts we all enjoyed a medley of sweet treats; lemon and pine nut semi freddo, tiramisu spoons, mini Threadneedle pavlova and an epic brownie.
Needless to say gluttony was ripe that day, an experience none of the apprentices would have ever been able to enjoy if it wasn’t for the fantastic work our Foundation do.
A fellow apprentice summed up our trip perfectly…. “I have had the most amazing time in London these last two days! So much amazing food and such awesome company!! Met Michael Roux Jr and saw kitchens and restaurants that I hope to work in one day! Safe to say I got all the inspiration I need to keep me driven at Fifteen.”
Big thanks to the following people for making this trip happen:
First Great Western for donating train tickets for our apprentices and staff.
Fabio and his team at La Credenza.
The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and apprentices at Fifteen London muchos for the Mexican breakfast.
The Taste of London Festival for donating tickets to the event.