Two intrepid caterers are launching a new venture in Pop Brixton at a time when the hospitality industry is facing an uncertain future.
Robbie Lorraine and Martyn Barrett will soon offer nostalgia-based food at Only Food and Courses in Pop, modelling their container on a traditional “greasy spoon”.
Lorraine was 2017 executive chef of the year in the FSM (now Contract Catering) Awards and won “meat-free street food dish of the year” at the Streat Food Awards in 2018.
“I learnt to cook with my nan, but I’m also using the skills through my classical training and the experiences I’ve gained through my years in the hospitality industry,” he says.
Their 28-seat start-up is planned to be the first of several units, including a London high-street site next summer.
While Peckham was home to the classic BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses, our neighbour’s loss could be Brixton’s gain.
Barrett says: “We’ve been looking for an opportunity to start something together, having worked with one another for over four years.”
Their menu will include crab scotch eggs, confit duck eclairs, and modernised takes on nostalgic British classics.
Both loved “the banter, passion, graft and strength of friendships” in Only Fools and Horses, the massive TV hit that starred David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as the Trotter brothers.
“It’s the best of British nostalgia and we want to tap into some of that feeling, especially when the world around needs a bit of positivity right now,” says Barrett.
The two have worked together for a number of years and say they have a relationship to rival that of Del Boy and Rodney.
Lorraine has catered for royalty and celebrities including Will Smith, who was promoting his 2008 film Seven Pounds on the luxury Thames cruiser Silver Sturgeon. He told Lorraine his chicken salad was the best he had ever had.
The Food and Courses container, Lorraine and Barrett say, will be set up with plenty of space to ensure social distancing for all diners.
Pop Brixton is classed as an outdoor venue, so they should be able to cater for groups of up to six people from multiple households as long as London remains in tier 2; masks are worn around the site; social distancing is maintained between groups; and the track and trace programme is in place.
“We have been able to implement long-term measures to ensure that we provide a safe environment for our customers,” says Barrett.
“All our tables are for two people – apart from just one for six – our menus are in the form of QR codes on the wall next to each table.
“The tables will be one metre apart, our staff have the relevant PPE and will be Covid-trained.
“We all have to adapt to this.”
The pair have this month tried out dishes at pop-up events in Kent.
Barrett says the lockdown actually gave them the opportunity “to really crystallise our thoughts and forge ahead”.
Only Food and Courses will be open from noon to 5pm for walk-in light menus, and offers a choice of a two, four or six course dinner from 6 to 10pm from Wednesday to Sunday.