Postcode Pop-Ups: Chapter 2
21 September 2018
There aren’t many acts that are more caring or loving than the act of feeding people. When you spend hours mixing stews to build flavour and looking high and low just to source the very best ingredients; you’re explaining to the people you’re serving it to, that they are worth your time. When you cook for others, you’re essentially telling them that they matter.
London has a number of chefs who believe that feeding people is about more than just providing nourishment—it’s a way to connect and to build relationships with the community. For this installation of Post Code Pop-Up, we highlight the pop-ups who are using food to give back to their local communities. Speaking to their founders about how they are sharing their own cultures and food memories with the people of London and beyond. In conversation with these pop-up connoisseurs, we talk about the importance of their  neighbourhoods and how these tight-knit local communities have paved the way for their success — regardless of what post-code that may be in!
Damascus Chef – Catford 

When Abdullah Alawayed and his wife Fabienne decided to bring home-cooked Syrian cuisine to London with Damascus Chef, they were out to change minds and opinions. Alawayed shares, “The agricultural basis of our society and our diverse historical traditions—with dishes rooted in Persian, Turkish, Armenian, Caucasian, Bedioun, and Mediterranean cuisines—really means that food is a serious, joyous, and very refined matter in Syria.” He talks about the tough period Syria is currently going through and how he’d rather celebrate the soulful aspects of their culture. “For some reason, a lot of Londoners still perceive Syrian food as being greasy, meat-based, or not much more than a simple kebab. We are constantly working change that perception for every one our guests,” he says.
Alawayed says that getting support for his projects (which now include Syrian music and film nights) managing the cost of rent, and sourcing the proper ingredients are his biggest challenges. Despite this, he has grown a small fan base in and around South London. With people raving about his ability to balance traditional Syrian cuisine with new twists he’s learned from his time in Amman and the UK.
Regeneration works for Catford have been in the pipeline for a while, and the neighbourhood have already been dotted with independent cafés, bars, and new street markets. According to Alawayed, “Catford is an optimistic place to be. We like the blend of a laid back neighbourly South London community with quirky urbanite rule breakers. People really spend time in the area and learn to respect its idiosyncrasies, rather than jetting off somewhere else every weekend. Catford has a very rich history, it has seen mixed fortunes—as well as social conflict. There's a lot of willingness to celebrate the peaceful and harmonious outcomes of that in the community.” 
Damascus Chef pops up on Friday evenings at Archibald’s (SE6) and Saturday evenings at Rhubarb & Custard (SE12). Every Sunday they peddle the day’s hot dishes to homes in South East London.
Holy Schn!t—Kentish Town

Holy Schn!t is the self-proclaimed “dirtiest, most delicious schnitzel pop-up around.” Created by Australian schnitzel lover Beth de Leon, who calls herself the Head Schnit-head; Beth tells us that the pop-up started as a project for the chefs of her Scandinavian pub in Crouch Hill called, Kjöt + Elder. 
“We wanted to come up with an idea that would combine my Aussie heritage and my Scandi chefs’ expertise, so we came up with the hybrid Aussie Schnitty burger—a must for any proper Aussie seeking a decent lunch. It’s a seeded brioche bun, topped with awesome sauces, a spicy slaw, and hand-hammered chicken or aged beef schnitzel!  Served with an Aussie classic—fries with chicken salt,” says Beth.
Kentish Town, (or K-Town to the locals) has an eclectic mix of elements that give it a discrete sense of cool. Aside from a number of award-winning pubs, its own brewery, a retro lido, and historic music venue, De Leon shares that there is a large sense of community in the area, which has made it perfect for their launch. “We work hard feeding all the local football, badminton, and pub quiz teams during our evenings at the Rose and Crown–we give them extra love!”  she says. 
Holy Schn!t wrapped up their time in Kentish Town in mid-September and will be serving up their silly delicious burgers in a new East London location.
The Jam Shed Supper Club – South Bank

Do you believe in giving people second chances? If they’re the types of folks who’d serve us Herefordshire brisket, slow-roasted porchetta, or coconut date and amaretto brulée, then that’s a definite yes from us!  The Jam Shed Supper Club is a pop-up on the South Bank hosted by a team of cooks who competed for the coveted title of MasterChef, but didn’t quite make it to the very end. The chefs teamed up with event caterers, Clement Worrall, to win diners over with six different menus created by each one of the former contestants.
Known as London’s cultural district, the South Bank welcomes artists of all shapes and forms—be they the performers at the brutalist-designed National Theatre, the graffiti artists who bring colour to the Leake Street tunnel, or the mixology geniuses creating some of the best cocktails in the city. 
“We have an amazing venue, great food, brilliant chefs and personalities…The Southbank Centre is an art organisation, and one we feel is really worthwhile to support,” says Dougie Murphy of Clement Worrall. The team have converted the rooftop of the Royal Festival Hall into a fun and spirited dining area filled with communal tables, wine-based cocktails, and fun tunes. Guests can enjoy the party whilst getting a sweeping view of the Thames.
The chefs may not have won the MasterChef competition, but they’re grateful for the platform the show has given them, and have made it their mission to give back to the local community. “We sponsor the Springboard charity by giving young people a helping hand on to the career ladder,” explains Murphy. The Springboard Charity  supports disadvantaged and underprivileged people by providing them with jobs within the hospitality, leisure, and tourism industries. Guests will be able to interact with Springboard trainees as they serve them at front of the house, and will also get to taste some of the delicious food they helped prepare in the kitchen. 
The Jam Shed Supper Club have finished their stay in SouthBank on September 8th and have booked in a winter supper club from the 24th of November until the 21st of December. 
~
Words by Ina Yulo 

Want more Pop-ups? Check out Chapter 1

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