Author Archive

Michel Roux Jr and The Balvenie Return With Online Series Which Celebrates Modern Day Artisans

Following the success of last year’s series, The Balvenie has launched the second installment of The Craftsmen’s Dinner, which tells the stories of four exceptionally skilled craftspeople in the UK through a series of short films, demonstrating that true craft is not about what you make, or where you make it, but how you make it.

This year, the online series, hosted once again by renowned Michelin starred chef, Michel Roux Jr., showcases the dedication to British craftsmanship by a group of specialists, each using traditional techniques to create their artisan products in the most unexpected of places, from a rooftop overlooking The Shard to a council estate in Tottenham.

“We are delighted to bring back The Craftsmen’s Dinner after the success of the first series. The Balvenie’s distinctive character as a whisky is created by the experience, skill and ambition of our own craftspeople.” – Asmita Singh, The Balvenie Senior Brand Manager.

The series follows urban cheese makers, Wildes Cheese; the family-owned car producer Morgan Motor Company, who embrace new technology whilst preserving tradition; artisan bakery Wooster’s, who restored the old family mill; and Bermondsey Street Bees, who champion food sustainability from a central London rooftop. The stories that emerge highlight the common values between the different craftspeople, Michel Roux Jr. and The Balvenie; who all share an intimate understanding of their trade and a desire to leave a mark through their produce, taking no shortcuts along the way.

The series concludes with the four-course ‘Craftsmen’s Dinner’ at the Langham curated by Michel Roux Jr. with dishes that showcase the exciting collaborations with each of the craftspeople. The delicious independent menu features spit-roast veal loin with sweet breads glazed in Bermondsey Street Bees’ honey, Wildes Cheese’s Roland cheese with Balvenie soaked prunes and Wooster’s sourdough ice cream.

“It’s been a pleasure to continue this partnership with The Balvenie, setting out once again to discover and learn from an immensely talented group of craftspeople, all united by the passion and dedication for what they do. This year I have been particularly inspired by how these experts go to great lengths, in this modern world, to preserve traditional craft methods, often in unexpected ways and places.” – Michel Roux Jr.

Series Two of The Craftsmen’s Dinner is now live on and features the following episodes:

  • Michel Roux Jr. meets Morgan Motor Company
  • Michel Roux Jr. meets Wooster’s Bakery
  • Michel Roux Jr. meets Bermondsey Street Bees
  • Michel Roux Jr. meets Wildes Cheese
  • The Craftsmen’s Dinner at the Langham

This is a fantastic initiative, highlighting grassroots artisans in the UK who rarely get the spotlight that they deserve. Make sure you subscribe and watch the new series!


How A Former Banker Launched The First App Dedicated To African and Caribbean Food in The UK

Vivian ChopstreetsVivian Ngwodo is part of a new generation of women, particularly women of African descent, who are using technology to take ownership of the entrepreneurial landscape. Born and raised in Nigeria, Vivian has always been a solutions provider, a problem solver and lover of food. In 2010, Vivian resigned from her Foreign Operations job in one of Nigeria’s major banks and embarked on a journey to Scotland to pursue a Master’s Degree and began her career journey in the U.K financial industry. She relocated to London in 2012 to start a new job and was excited at the fact that being in London also meant having more access to her beloved Nigerian food. However, Vivian soon discovered how difficult and frustrating it was to find Nigerian or other African restaurants in London. Even though she quickly adapted to British and Asian foods which were readily available, once in a while, she craved Nigerian food and wanted to introduce her friends to it as well.

When Vivian realized that there was very little visibility or recognition of African and Caribbean restaurants she was inspired to launch a restaurant blog and a super directory where she reviewed and listed African and Caribbean restaurants and food business from across London in 2014. By 2015 and 2016, there was a sudden rise in African Supper Clubs in London and Londoners were excitedly looking to try the exotic and diverse flavours from the African continent.  Whilst undertaking an internship with a digital media company, Vivian began developing a Location based app that would make it easier for people from all ethnicities to find & review African and Caribbean restaurants.

Chopstreets is an exciting new social app, the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to Afro-Caribbean food that finds and curates the best African and Caribbean restaurants, takeaways, pop-ups and supper clubs. With the social networking feature, users can eat their way around the African continent and taste the delicacies of The Caribbean. Now people can instantly see African and Caribbean food recommended by their friends and contacts and event share their own dining experiences.


‘African and Caribbean cuisines have been under-represented for far too long and I am on a mission to make them famous by using technology to provide a platform for people to discover Afro-Caribbean cuisine easily and also set a standard for the Afro-Caribbean food industry in the U.K. My vision for Chopstreets is that it becomes an active social network for both African and Non-Africans as I believe eating is a social activity and the best friendships are made over food.’ – Vivian Ngwodo, Founder of Chopstreets

Vivian’s innovative solution will make African and Caribbean Cuisine more accessible to the wider culinary world and change the way people view African and Caribbean cuisine forever.

Instagram: @chopstreets
Twitter: @chopstreets


Healthy Heritage Recipes from India and Sweet Inspirations from Pakistan

Review By Lola Agondogo Hegba

The chance to try new food and recipes is too good to be missed and so being sent two cookbooks which celebrate Indian and Pakistani cuisine is a true delight.

Indian food is an internationally popular cuisine, yet it is sometimes considered to be heavy, rich and indulgent. As more people turn to healthy home cooking as an alternative to eating out, there has never been a better time for a fresh and lighter take on Indian food – one that Mira Manek is creating with her vibrant and healthy cooking style in the Saffron Soul Cookbook. With this cookbook, Mira goes back to her roots to show how basic ingredients: the lentils, vegetables, grains and most importantly the spices, are all brimming with health benefits. Inspired by her mother and grandmother’s cooking, Mira’s style of food is a modern interpretation of Indian classics, creating utterly delicious and naturally healthy dishes. If you want to cook a Saffron & Lime Chia Pot, an Indian Summer Salad, a Thali, a Masala Almond Milk or a Mango Shrikhand Cheesecake, Mira’s recipes combine the best of the core elements of Indian cooking with original health-promoting twists. Here is just one recipe that I tried which was easy to make and understand from this well put together cookbook.

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt
Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt
This is a recipe that has true depth of flavour and such a wholesome taste! The spices work well with the chickpea, a real delight, it was excellent and super simple to do, with a family and a busy schedule this was particularly important for me. I think the next time I will make them, they will have the form of blinis accompanied with chilli yoghurt to add freshness to the dish and enjoy it in easy to eat mouthfuls. It would make the perfect aperitif. With this recipe my family and I made a beautiful discovery which we cannot wait to try again.

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

Saffron Soul by Mira Manek

Pudla Spinach pancakes with chilli yoghurt

The next cookbook I had the opportunity to review was Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani. In this cookbook the author shares the exotic cuisine of her native Pakistan, sharing the secrets of her home country’s incredible and varied desserts and sweets. The book is a modern take on recipes inspired by the cultural crossroads of Pakistan, in which she explores the unique significance of the country’s traditions and geography. The 70 authentic and family recipes travel from the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains in the north (where berries and fruits grow in abundance), via the fertile Punjab (with its rice- and grain-based desserts) to the Arabian sea in the south, where saffron- and cardamom-laced sweet recipes are a favourite. Just reading the synopsis made me hungry for more!

Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani

Hunza barove giyaling
I was initially surprised by the texture of these pancakes given how few ingredients were needed but it still turned out to be a very good recipe.
Be careful not to put too much water. I added a little more water than expected in the recipe because as I said above, the dough appeared too much thick to me. The pancakes were perfect, true happiness … a real treat!  I was pleasantly surprised two pancakes recipes without egg and without milk! Which makes them much more digestible and light, and very good, perfect healthy alternative particularly if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.

Hunza barove giyaling

Both cookbooks were sent as gifts to review.

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln, £20.00

Saffron Soul: Healthy, vegetarian heritage recipes from India by Mira Manek published by Jacqui Small £20.00