Sunday, 12 August 2012

Interview - Adam Layton of Noshable

One of the things I find most enjoyable about running this site is that it gives me the opportunity to meet some really interesting, knowledgeable and passionate people.  Adam Layton of Noshable definitely falls into all of those categories.  I met him a couple of weeks ago at Burger Breakout, and then again at Maltby Street where he runs the Cornish Grill barbecue with Matt Chatfield.

Dan - How did you get into it - was it just through Matt, or had you been doing other stuff before?

Adam - Matt Chatfield is the reason I'm involved in the food industry at all. I didn't even have a food blog before I met him. In summer 2011 I'd just returned back to Clapham after three years living north of the river. Instinctively I visited my old local pub, The Manor Arms, where Matt had just started a pop-up BBQ in the beer garden. The food was fantastic - all Cornish fare - and I was soon visiting every weekend. Covers were low when the sport wasn't on so I used my PR and social media background to reach out to food bloggers and help fill the place out. When the autumn came Matt was offered to take the Cornish Grill to Redhook in Farringdon and that's when I decided I wanted to get in on the action. 

How far in advance do you plan events?
It varies hugely. My first solo pop-up for Independence Day this year had a long gestation period. I'd been watching lots of Man v. Food and I'd find myself recreating these monstrous meals at home. I really fell for the French Dip sandwich. I studied the joints that were serving them in Downtown LA (Cole's and Philippe's fiercely contest the birthplace of the first 'dipped' roast beef sandwich). At this point I was sharing recipes for outlandish American diner dishes with my friend Ben Walton (of Ben's Canteen) and it was him who said we should put something on together. Having helped Matt run the Cornish Grill for the last year, I felt I had the confidence to go it alone and it thankfully was a tremendous success. We sold 102 tickets and the atmosphere was incredible - we had a jukebox cranking out classic American rock, Kool-Aid 'house party' style cocktails and most importantly a packed house of smiling (and messy) faces. Sometimes however the events have a very quick turnaround, like the next Noshable event at Ben’s Canteen, which we’ve only given ourselves three weeks to develop. I’d say the average lead time is six weeks.

What do you think the most interesting trends are at the moment - e.g. street food people moving into restaurants, fusions, or whatever?
I think pop-ups still have a lot of mileage. The most exciting ones for me are around London Fields. Burnt Enz is a BBQ co-run by Australian chef Dave Pynt and he's doing some phenomenal cooking - aged Cornish Dexter steak tartare, suckling pig of course juicy burnt ends. Just over the road is the London Fields Brewery, which is also putting on excellent pop-up BBQs (the home-smoked pulled pork buns are real winners).
 Pop-up cocktail bars have been a lot of fun this summer. The Parlourette (run by the guys behind The Parlour in Canary Wharf) inside London Fields Brewery serves very clever beer cocktails, while Little Bird’s Maltby Street gin bar every Saturday serves some of the most delicate and experimental (in an old-school sense, no molecular mixology here) drinks this city has to offer.

What do you think are the biggest areas that have yet to be exploited?
Haha, I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep those under my hat! Perhaps food trucks in the ‘true’ sense. Food served in vehicles that actually move, and you have to find them wherever they pitch up via Twitter or a GPS app. Like in the States. I guess there are some legal issues. One trend, that I like to think Matt and I are at the forefront of, is to bring restaurant chefs and street food traders together for one-off flavour-clashes. Last month we put Lucky Chip together with Jeffrey Roxas-Green of Redhook and it was a spectacular event. I’ll remember the steak and oyster pasties forever. I’d really like to work with Green Goat in the future – they’re doing amazing things with Cornish fish.  

Where do you see your involvement in 5 years time or so?
I’ve been working in financial PR for the last five years. I’d really like to get into restaurant PR – so if anyone who’s reading this can give me a break then do get in touch! In five years time I’d like to think the Noshable brand will be well known among London foodies not just for the food but for the parties it puts on. It would be terrific to have a residency somewhere.

Adam's next venture is the American Road Trip at Ben's Canteen in Battersea; 3 courses taking in New York, Nashville and San Francisco, and available, as the Blues Brothers would say, for one night only.  Get involved!

Read Adam's blog here:  Noshable

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