Street & Conversation with… Katie Wilson

Katie Wilson is a British photographer who shoots mostly portraits and food. After previously living in Australia for 12 years, she’s been back in London for about 15 years. Currently living in East London, Katie loves the interesting food scene the area has to offer.  

Do you have a favourite cultural spot in London?

Sir John Soane’s Museum. I wish it was my house. You can hire the whole house for a dinner party – which I haven’t done but it would be amazing.. one day.  

Do you have a favourite restaurant in London?

I couldn’t pick one! I’ve got so many favourites. Two that I love that are so reliably fantastic are 40 Maltby Street in Bermondsey. It is just exceptionally good, very low key fantastic food and paired with beautiful wines and casual too. Towpath in Dalston on the canal, it’s again just really nourishing, lovely food.  

What makes London special to you?

I think what’s special about London is that it’s accepting, that anybody can come here and give it a go. You can come here and I don’t think you’ll be judged. I’m not from here but I feel like a Londoner. Someone can arrive yesterday and feel like a Londoner. We’re accepting and open in a way I wish the rest of the country was.  

Do you have a unique or whacky thing you like to do in London?

I quite often go from East London to Marble Arch to get a kebab from Ranoush. Which is quite a mission but always worth it.  

Do you have a favourite green space?

You can’t beat Hampstead Heath. It’s the only place in London where you can get away from all traffic noise. I have also enjoyed discovering local green spaces as as consequence of walking and cycling during lockdown with my boys, like Lincoln’s Inn Fields,  The New River Walk in Canonbury, and ‘Hackney Riviera’ in Hackney Marshes is fun on a sunny day.

Do you have a favourite tube line?

I’ve got a least favourite – the Northern line. My favourite is going to have to be Victoria because you can sneak down from Highbury and Islington to anywhere. It’s the gateway to the East. Jubilee is incredible too but I don’t get it that often. It goes through Parliament so it’s quiet, cleaner and more modern. 

Street & Conversation with… Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Nic Crilly-Hargrave is a professional food and drink photographer who specialises in hospitality. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Nic initially came over to London for five years before heading back to Australia for a couple of years. He has since moved back to the city for another five years.  

What do you love about London?

The reason why I’m in London is because everything happens in London first. There’s very few countries or cities around the world that can say they are at the epicentre of things happening. It might be us and New York but we’ve got a crowd of people here who will give anything a go and you’ll have enough people to try or follow what you’re doing. I think it’s brilliant, a lot of originality comes from London.

What is your favourite restaurant in London?

One of my favourite restaurants is Blacklock. There are very few restaurants in London where you can say you had the perfect experience when visiting. You have great service, the food is fantastic and the vibe is great. Ticks all the boxes and very few restaurants can do that.  

Where are we most likely to find you in the summer months?

I love visiting Sardinia. It’s a country that’s off a lot of people’s maps, it’s untouched and has a lot of beautiful beaches with no one around.   

What’s the most unique or whacky thing you like to do in London?

Something that I do, just because London is a 24 hour city, I like to go at midnight into Soho and Chinatown and just walk around and photograph the scenes that happen after midnight when people are in bed. There’s another part of London you see here which you don’t get at any other hours of the day.   

Do you have a fave cultural spot in London?

I love going to the BFI Cinema on the Southbank, I love seeing films and sitting in dark rooms by myself. I try to do two or three a week if I can, BFI has amazing films and amazing programmes.

Street & Conversation with… Gabriel Gonzalez

Born in Venezuela, Gabriel has now lived in London for 10 years. He began LIMA in 2012 following a trip to Peru where he fell in love with the country and the food, and decided he wanted to set up a Peruvian restaurant. His brother was living in London at the time, so they did some research and saw that there was an opportunity to open this type of restaurant. Gabriel has now been running LIMA for the past 10 years, and has since opened a second site in Covent Garden (2014).   

Was there a specific dish which you tried in Peru which inspired you to open LIMA?

The raw dishes – the ceviches, sashimi – they all vary in the types of seafood which you can use – it can be pretty much anything as long as it’s fresh. The marinade is also really delicious and different types of chillies can paint a different colour. Yellow, red, it’s vibrant and fun to eat so that caught our attention. Flavour wise it’s really fresh, interesting and super healthy so it ticks a lot of boxes.  

Do you have a favourite restaurant in London?

I personally love Japanese food. It’s my favourite type of cuisine. I’ve always gone back to ROKA. I really like that place.   

Do you have a favourite cultural place in London?

The British Museum is a special place. There’s a Peruvian exhibition on at the moment. We collaborated with a catering company and our head chef did the kick off for the exhibition. The Tate is also a very cool place and is one we keep going back too.  

What makes London special to you?

I think it’s the most cosmopolitan international city anywhere in the world. That multiculturalism, it’s so open so you feel really welcome wherever you come from. You can really make your way – it’s such a welcoming city and the dynamic is always changing. You really feel like things are progressing in the city. I honestly think it’s the best city in the world.  

Do you have any unique or whacky things which you like to do in London?

In the summer I find that Hampstead Heath and the lagoons are amazing. You really feel like you are outside of the city. It is also so interesting how every place has it’s own little quirk, high street and life. Every area has its own thing.  

Do you have any green spaces which you love?

Regents Park, Hampstead Heath, there’s so many green areas which is something I love about this city.  

Do you have a favourite tube line?

The overground? It’s kind of comfortable and wide…. it’s one of the nicest ones.

Street & Conversation with… Mandy Sherliker

Accomplished in the world of design, Mandy’s expertise is demonstrated through her creative eye. Mandy works with restaurateurs, hoteliers and brands to create eye catching branding, content and interior design.  

What’s your favourite secret place in London?

GF Smith’s Paper Showroom. It showcases the simple beauty of paper and the unlimited possibility of things you can do with it. It’s really quite spectacular.  

What’s your favourite place to eat out?

There’s too many to choose from. I could be here all day. But I have to say, Bellanger in Islington, Turkish Cafe Mangal 1 in Hackney Downs and Dishoom are up there in my top 3.  

What’s your favourite tube line and why?

Well Victoria seems the obvious one to me – it’s the closest to home so I take it every day.  

What’s your London guilty pleasure?

I do love a Mister Whippy, you can’t go wrong with Ice Cream.  

What’s your favourite London building?

The Michelin Building is wonderful. The building was historically occupied by the Michelin tyre company and the art-deco nature of the building is so playful with windows based on Michelin character and advertisements.  

What’s the best place for a date in London?

It depends who you are with, but if you are looking to impress someone I’d take them to The Wolseley. It’s a European restaurant in Mayfair that serves amazing seasonal dishes.  

Who’s your favourite Londoner?

There’s a few but my number one is my son CY Sherliker. Pat Newland from Poppies is also a true Londoner, born and bred in the East End and he is fantastic.  

East, West, North or South? And why?

I have lived in all of them but the North is my favourite. I feel at home in Islington and it’s so accessible with Kings Cross and Hackney close by.  

Finally… sum up London in three words!

Energetic, Dynamic, Diverse  

Street & Conversation with… Pat “Pop” Newland

With a lifetime of experience dishing up fish and chips to the masses, Pops is not new to the trade.  At the young age of 11, the East End born owner started in the fish and chips business completely by chance. 70 years later, he has 3 of London’s favourite fish and chip shops to his name: Spitalfields, Camden and Soho. Today, he still cycles down to his Spitalfields shop each morning, and helps with the day to day work – sweeping the street, preparing the fryers and chatting to his regulars.  

What’s your favourite secret place in London?

All Hallows by the Tower at Tower Hill. It is a church that has a crypt underneath, probably where people like Anne Boleyn and that prayed. I go there quite often and do some praying in there myself. It really takes you back to what it was. It is a great place and I feel spiritual there.   

What’s your favourite place to eat out?

Poppies. Other than that…. there are a couple of curry houses on Brick Lane that I have been going to for ages. I know the people down there so well.   

What’s your favourite tube line and why?

I haven’t been on the tube in 50 years and I have no intention of going on it.   I cycle to get where I need to go.   

What’s your favourite London building?

Tower of London. It is a beautiful building, the stones, it is so right. That is my place of peace. That is where I want my wife to throw my ashes… without anyone seeing.   

What’s the best place for a date in London? 

Trafalgar Square. You get all the lovers walking in Trafalgar Square. When I used to work in ice cream I used to pull up on Embankment at 1 in the morning, and when all the lovers walked past I used to serve them. I used to say to my boss then, “I am going to be back late”. He would say, “Where are you going?”. I would tell him, “Look I am going to come back and pay you a lot of money, don’t ask”. Otherwise everyone would have taken my spot!   

Who’s your favourite Londoner?

Barbara Windsor. Although there is a lot of others. I am quite well known. Well… before the internet, I was well known. I had lots of shops and was a local man. But Barbara, she mixed with the East End, although she was a great star she sat with the gangsters, she said herself that she slept with Ronny Kray. I have the paintings by Ronny Kray in there, he isn’t a very good artist, but I wouldn’t tell him that myself.   

East, West, North or South? And why?

Definitely the East. I come from here and I am going to go from here in a box.

Street & Conversation with…Daniele Pino at La Nonna

Born in the outskirts of Rome, Dani formed La Nonna to bring carefully executed, refreshed versions of much-loved Roman pasta dishes to the fast movers of London. Championing the depths of his culinary heritage, La Nonna is his expression of years of perfecting the Italian cooking style, shaped by the flavours and recipes of his grandmother’s Roman kitchen.  

Describe London in three words

Fast-paced. “Foodcentric”. Buzzing.   

What’s your favourite secret place in London?

The cocktail bar Nightjar in Shoreditch. It is a speakeasy in Old Street and everyone inside is dressed like the 70s – really old-school, really cool. It is inside a little arch where no one can see you, it is very secret. They also do every single cocktail in the book! And the vessels they are served in are super interesting. Different every time.   

What’s your favourite place to eat out?

I actually don’t have a favourite place in London as I don’t tend to go in the same restaurant more than once. I like to try everything London has to offer – as the cuisine is so diverse, and there are so many options! Four or five years ago I would have immediately said a Michelin-starred restaurant. But now, I try everything. Perhaps The Wolseley if I wanted to go to a high-end establishment.   

What’s your favourite London building?

The Sky Garden. It is so cool. It is really incredible to see.   

What’s the best place for a date in London?

I actually did a trial at a restaurant that was considered the most romantic in the UK. It is Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden and it is so romantic. There are so many flowers inside, it is really cool. Even though it has an Italian name, the food is French. It is really cool.   

East, West, North or South? And why?

South, for sure. As I have always lived here and I love it. It is super special, so many hidden things to see and try. Really great community-feel. If not South, I would definitely pick East. But I haven’t explored there nearly enough. 

Street & Conversation with…George at Pilau

Street food hub Pilau is a quintessentially London phenomenon – an unselfconsciously cool blending of Indian and British flavours, all packaged quickly and efficiently for London’s ever-changing, ever-demanding, high speed food scene.  Owner George got the idea for Pilau on a trip to India and it’s spawned an entire franchise, with venues in both London and Dubai. We caught up at the Fitzrovia branch to find out more.   

Hi George! What’s the story behind Pilau?

It started back in 2015. I’ve been working in the restaurant industry since I was 14, washing dishes. Then my brother and I went to India and fell in love with the cuisine, the culture, the people. We went to a religious festival called Ganpati, and we were on the beach looking at what was going on. A family pulled us in and said “you look out of place – come and join the celebration.” We ended up staying with them for four days. They didn’t let us pay for anything, they fed us, we danced every night. The mum became my surrogate mother out there, and she’s come over here two or three times since. She knew nothing about us, and she took us in and welcomed us. Basically we came back and we were blown away. We also had the realisation that Indian food is the nation’s favourite – had been for about ten years – but there was no well-known Indian brand in the grab and go sector. With Mexican food you’ve got things like Chipotle, Chilango…there are loads of sushi places too, burger places…but no-one doing Indian food. Dishoom and Kricket are smashing it in the sit-down market, so we wanted to start something for the lunchtime, grab and go workers. So that’s how it was born. We looked at how we could change people’s perceptions of Indian food as just being an evening meal, and what we could do to make it more lunchtime. So we reduced the size of our menu, played two-step garage and old-school hip hop, and we try to make the food light, healthy, fresh and easy to carry away. It’s all fresh, with healthy vegan and vegetarian ingredients.   

You’re partnered with a charity aren’t you?

Yeah, so at the same time as setting up Pilau, we set up a charity called “Feed Yourself, Feed A Child.” So every time someone eats at one of our restaurants, we feed a child in India. We’ve fed close to 200,000 children to date.   

What do you think is the British perception of Indian food right now?

I think it’s improving. Obviously the chicken tikka was invented in Britain…we want to get away from some of the negative connotations of British curry – that the same gravy is used for all of them, that it might upset your belly, that you might need a nap after. I think a lot of the perception of Indian food is probably wrong. We live in a country where people have curry sauce on chips. Which I’m not against, to be fair. But I think with the likes of Dishoom, people are understanding that Indian food is more than that. It’s delicious, and comes in so many different forms. It’s not just tikka masala and rice. It has come on in leaps and bounds.   

How would you describe the food at Pilau?

We’ve drawn inspiration from all over and put our own stamp on it. It’s not your traditional Indian, it’s a slight variation of it. But it’s all fresh and original and tasty. It’s Westernised grab and go Indian food. Soho meets Mumbai.  

What’s your favourite go-to restaurant in London?

I’m at Quo Vadis quite a lot. Rochelle Canteen in Hackney. Studio Kitchen in Haggerston. Max’s Sandwich Shop in Crouch End is great as well.  Not to forget 10 Greek St, a personal favourite of mine.   

What’s a great secret place in London?

Hampstead Ponds. Probably not that secret, but I love it. I have meetings there, swimming about and talking business. It’s a really nice way to do it.   

Finally… describe London in three words.

It’s my home.

Street & Conversation with…Kathryn at Kathryn Sargent Bespoke Tailoring

Based on Brook Street, just off Savile Row, Savile Row’s first ever female head cutter Kathryn Sargent has her atelier where she meets and greets clients from all over the world and makes unique garments for both men and women. Kathryn trained on Savile Row at Gieves & Hawkes which she left in 2012 to establish her own business, Kathryn Sargent Bespoke Tailoring, which she has been running ever since.   

How long have you been in London?

I moved to London when I started work in 1996. That’s when I first started at Gieves & Hawkes but before then I was studying at Epsom for 3 years doing fashion design. London feels like home to me. I am from the north of England but the Mayfair area is where I have really trained and established myself and my career. It’s very much where I feel I have become the person that I am now.  

Describe London in 3 words:

Diverse, inspiring and creative.   

What is your favourite place in London?

I love the contrast of the parks with the old neighbourhoods of London like historical Mayfair and St James’, and then just a short walk from there you have St James’ park which is a beautiful park with lots of history. You feel like you can get away from the city and get your headspace. Also Hyde Park, I have been walking through Hyde Park every day since going back to work. I think when you’re not in a rural location and you’re in a city, you need those spaces with such a rich history and interesting things going on. I like the parks and I also like the older buildings and architecture of London. I like walking around and feeling inspired, and the community feeling that you are contributing to and being part of bringing the city life.  

Favourite place to eat out in London?

There are too many! I think there are some fantastic places to go for every budget and every cuisine. For a really special occasion I love a restaurant in Chelsea called Elystan Street, yet somewhere like the Mayfair Chippy is a fun place to go if you want some good fish and chips in central London. There’s a great pub called The Windmill at the top of Savile Row which serves a fantastic pie.  

What is your London guilty pleasure?

Something that many of my clients do, and something that I don’t get to do that often when I am working, is to indulge in fine art and fine food. Therefore at the weekend, I like to go to galleries across London. I also really love live theatre so i’m always keeping an eye out for new plays. Matinee, art gallery and a meal in one day. It feels very indulgent.  

What is your favourite London building?

I love the Royal Academy of Art. It is really a beautiful space for art and just the building itself, the figures on it and the columns outside. It’s statuesque and as grand as its contents. I’ve walked past it every day of my working career. You don’t often look up at buildings but it’s one of those where you really can appreciate the architecture of it.  

What’s the best place for a date in London?

A boat trip up the Thames followed by a river walk and mini pub crawl, finished off with a gallery or a nice meal.  

Do you prefer the east west north of south, why?

I am a West End girl. I live in the west and I work in the west end. It’s my home. I know the other parts of London as I have lived all over but where I have settled is where I prefer to be.

Street & Conversation with… Jay at Rasa Sayang

Rasa Sayang is one of London’s few Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants, and is treasured by Londoners, travellers and the city’s considerable population of expats from East Asia. Specialising in food from two countries known for their culinary diversity, Rasa Sayang offers everything from Malaysian classics like Laksa and Nasi Lemak, to Singaporean street food staples like their crispy and indulgent prawn paste fried chicken. The restaurant pays homage to its rich heritage, while also catering to London’s fast-paced and demanding palate. We spoke to marketing manager Jay to find out more.  

Hi Jay! Tell us a bit about Singaporean cuisine.

It’s a bit of a mish-mash. We’re made up of immigrants from India, the indigenous people who are Malays, immigrants from China…we were colonised for a long time. So all those play a part in the cuisine. It’s the best of South East Asia. The spicy stuff from the Indians and the Malays, you’ve got all the different soups and stews from China…it’s eclectic.  

What’s your favourite place to eat out in London?

I’m a sucker for steaks! I like Hawksmoor. They serve awesome steaks. Every time I go there I get into a food coma.  

What’s a great undiscovered restaurant gem in London?

There’s a tucked away place I love in Deptford. It’s a Vietnamese restaurant called Eat Vietnam, and it’s by far the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had in London. It’s family run and they serve stuff that people eat locally in Vietnam. It’s really authentic. Deptford has great Vietnamese food because there’s a big Vietnamese community there.  

What do you make of the London food scene?

Since I arrived around 2007/2008, it has evolved so much. Soho back then was nothing. It was a bunch of bars…and I liked Soho when it was seedy! It had its charms. But now it’s become an explosion of restaurants. But who would’ve thought, eleven years ago, that the scene would evolve so much. Back then, people took pictures of our shop front because they were fascinated by the fact that we were hanging ducks in the window. And back then, we didn’t serve an entire fish with the head on it…because people weren’t ready for it.  

Do you think Londoners are a bit more used to East Asian food now?

Yes. And I think Londoners are looking for more authenticity now. Back then, the perception of Asian food was the cookiecutter stuff that you find at buffets. But now in Chinatown, there’s all sorts of cuisines. It’s very exciting.  

What’s your favourite traditional London dish?

Jellied eels! I can’t get enough. I love the ones at Poppies.  

Finally…sum up London in three words!

Drink all day. I like the fact that people don’t judge you when you’re having a beer on Monday afternoon.   Find Rasa Sayang at 15 Frith Street, W1D 4RE. For menus and bookings, head to their website.