Adam Handling, the 27-year-old former chef at London’s St Ermin’s Hotel and BBC MasterChef: The Professionals finalist, opened his first properly solo venture in east London in June this year, complete with frog-themed statues, open kitchen, tropical-style outdoors space, and funky graffiti logo and design from Fat Punk Studios.
We hopped along to take a look at the 60-cover space, taking a peek at the in-house herbs, house gin, local art, original cocktails, and – of course - inventive and highly-acclaimed food.
Handling said: “The Frog being my first restaurant is quite exciting, and also scary as hell…but it’s really cool, it’s really awesome. It’s a really creative space, that does good food, great drinks, and a relaxed atmosphere.”
One of the most popular videos from our ‘In Operation with…’ series, which explores how emerging restaurant groups develop key systems to keep their tables full and their customers happy.
We visited the London King’s Cross branch of four-site Bombay café-style chain Dishoom, and chatted to co-founder Kavi Thakrar about “democratic all-day dining”, a strong food offer, and the importance of great staff training.
He said: “We thought it would be really fantastic to bring some of the heritage of these all-day cafes that were so important to Bombay’s heritage, to London, and Dishoom really pays homage to those cafes. And our food is the food of all of Bombay…where anyone is welcome any time of day.”
Oysters have had a makeover, and are no longer restricted to the cold delicacy found on silver platters in posh Champagne bars.
Enter the Wright Brothers, whose four quirky sites across London have found a niche in re-inventing the oyster, deep-frying it, educating consumers about it, and bringing it to a whole new market of Millennials and beyond.
The company, which is also a key wholesaler serving a raft of top restaurant groups and pubs, invited us to check out their Spitalfields site, complete with seafood bar and talk of future plans.
Ben Wright, co-founder and wholesaler, said: “Oysters had become less fun, it had become a little bit stuffy. And we couldn’t understand why, because oysters are all about fun and sharing…and we wanted to bring that back. And it worked.”
In the first of our new Chefs’ Secrets of Success series, we caught up with former River Café protégé and Italian food expert chef Theo Randall at this year’s Restaurant Show to talk career advice, trusting your instinct, and taking pride in your team.
He said: “The best bit of advice for a young chef starting their career right now would be, not to give up. I see so many chefs coming through the kitchens, and they move on very quickly. I think you should stay in a restaurant 18 months-two years. For me, at the end of the service, to go and talk to people, and they say ‘Oh, I’ve had the most wonderful meal’, is the greatest thing you can get.”
Beer got a culinary update this year as we looked into the rise of the beer sommelier and the art of cooking with beer – combining ingredients with different varieties, including, in this video, IPA.
Head chef Andrew Smith at the Purecraft Bar & Kitchen – the group co-founded by chef and restauranteur Andreas Antona ‒ showed us how to make IPA-marinated sea trout, with avocado puree, passionfruit gel, and crispy shallots, as an example of what you can do with beer as an ingredient.
He said: “As much as I would like to drink this beer, the fish likes it better…There’s nowhere in my opinion that’s doing food like we’re doing.”