September - the summer wanes, the rain hits the pavement and then just has you’ve accepted the need for jumpers and umbrellas, days of sun. September, decide who you want to be and just go with it, you’re playing with my emotions, my wardrobe choices and my sensibilities.
But that’s the beauty of the first days of autumn. Leaves turn orange as late morning sun shines through their delicate foliage - September is the month where anything and everything can happen, in one day.
This September has been no different.
It’s been a year since Dan and I sat down and devised the Chefs of Tomorrow plan, and now we have a new, bigger, more adventurous idea for the CoT (details soon, as soon as we know…!). It’s exciting to see how one thing, one idea, on one Sunday in September has grown into this new vision of a project (now I’m just being mean cos I can’t tell you the plan). Which reminded me how wonderful it is to work with people who are big thinkers, supportive and enthusiastic. You need to have people around you to bounce idea off, and also people who will listen to your ideas.
For ideas to grow you need to be open to listen to ideas, to not have an ego about always having the winning, the right, the best idea. To grow a business and a project you need to be able to listen and support and encourage other people’s thinking. This is very much the working relationship I have with Dan and indeed all those involved with Chefs of Tomorrow. You can always tone down an idea, you can always work out what isn’t practical, but if you don’t dream big you might not necessarily know where you can get to.
Luckily I also have these listeners in all aspects of my life, who let me bounce ideas off them about where I see myself in one year, two, three, five, ten years. People who push and ask how and why. My friend Natalie, who lives in Berlin (her personal blog is amazing, about how to optimize things), constantly shares ideas, images and her personal thoughts with me – a little image on instagram that makes me think about a problem in a completely different way. My friends Vera, Selena and Ming send me almost daily quotes or articles from people who are thinkers, writers, artists.... The kindness and generosity of people that see something, and think it might inspire me is life changing.
These acts are what make dreams come true. These are moments that expand your mind so that you can see a problem and idea in a whole new way.
London is this glorious place where you need to build your own family. You need to build your own village. I have just come from lunch at Som Saa, which is a wonderful long-term pop-up in Climpson’s Arch, right by my studio. It is a glorious sunny Saturday, I sat outside, drank prosecco, ate sticky rice and delicious spicy food. I saw my friend John, who was one of the CoT chefs, who cooks there, saw Tom, FOH master, who I’ve got to know from always popping in – all these points of contact make for a feeling of neighbourhood, in an otherwise built up, semi-industrial part of London. It creates a feeling of belonging; and when you feel like you belong somewhere, you want to invest in that place, in the people that also belong to that place, and you are able to dream big – your dreaming somehow matters.
Another great thing that happened this September is Som Saa crowdfunded money to open a permeant space. Before I could even check out the details on how I could throw my hat in the ring, they had reached their target! All in three days. It is incredibly lovely to see a local place, with exceptional food and people dream big and achieve.
London has changed; we are well aware that we are in the midst of food affair, where the culinary cult is gaining apostles every day, but what is exciting is that it is still changing. Nothing is still. The landscape is shifting, growing and we are all hands out, minds open wanting to learn.
Other fun bits that happened this September:
Had lunch at the Marksman Pub, on Hackney Rd with my closest friends. Two had been my best friends since I was 13, one of which was visiting from HK, the other lives in London. There were babies and puppies, it was all very fun and grown up - and yet not, we were still teenagers. Gorgeous food!
I was on a crusade to get drunk, so dragged half the party to Sager + Wilde, drunk four bottles of red wine, and got my mind changed about Austalian Shiraz!! This is big news.