You may remember back in January this year I reviewed a wonderful hidden gem of a cafe come shop in South Ken called Brompton Food Market – well I wanted to dig a little deeper… and find out what it feels like to be a parent on the front line, behind such an exciting food business.
You launched Brompton Food Market, what was the inspiration behind the brand?
D: Traditional food markets and old fashioned grocery shops. Places where you could touch, squeeze, smell and taste fresh produce before you bought it. By allowing people to do this you give them to chance to judge what they’re buying before they get home, rather than opening a sealed packet and running the risk of being disappointed.
FFK: I love your approach, it’s a great way to teach children how to look for ripe (or less ripe depending on when they are to be eaten) fruit and veg. Shopping should be a sensory experience to.
How important is sourcing your ingredients? Can you tell our readers a little more about the process to help create these healthy and tasty snacks?
D: As anyone running a food shop will tell you, sourcing is crucial. In fact it’s everything. My business partner and I spent six months travelling all over the UK and Ireland visiting the smokehouses, farms, orchards, harbours, creameries, breweries and cheese producers whose products we wanted. It was a real eye opener seeing what some people are making in their back yard. Tiny operations producing the most amazing things. It wasn’t all as fun as it sounds though – we crossed the Irish Sea in gale force 10 seas watching waves crash against the windows of the ferry while groups of Irish woman sat behind us in constant prayer for the duration of the 6 hour crossing. All in the name of finding good smoked salmon!
FFK: WOW sounds scary! I know this is really important to you from our previous chat. I love coming to your shop for particularly this reason. It’s also a great way to build up good relations with your suppliers as well as your customers.
What is your ethos behind the brand?
To offer exceptional quality and ever-changing food experiences. We want our customers to see something new every time they come into the shop; whether it’s produce or ways of cooking it – that way we’ll never stand still.
Can you tell us any exciting projects you may be working on?
D: We recognise the current trend for quick, great tasting recipes so we’re working on some take home ‘meal bags’ which contain all the ingredients for straightforward, delicious recipes developed by our chef (and my business partner) Luke Mackay for people to cook themselves. It means much less wastage for those who like to buy dinner on a whim depending what they feel like at that moment.
FFK: Great idea!
Can you share any of your favourite rain day activities with the kids?
D: I have three boys of 3, 6 and 4mths so any rainy day is a challenge due to high energy levels! I tend to bite the bullet and wrap them up in waterproofs and get out there to kick around a football, look for hidden paths in the woods or the like. It’s gritty but luckily the boys find most things an adventure whatever the weather. My wife is less keen on this approach!
FFK: You and your wife absolutely have your hands full!
Any top tips on how to juggle being a working dad?
D: Firstly I’m lucky to have a very tolerant and capable wife who puts up with the odd hours I end up working. And secondly I suppose it’s making sure that when you have time with your children you focus entirely on them rather than playing with Lego in one hand and checking your phone in the other (which I’ve been guilty of). Children notice these things.
FFK: I think we are all guilty of the phone in one hand…. great advice.
What top food and nutritional tips would you give mums who aren’t confident in the kitchen?
D: Keep it simple because that’s what most kids like. Straightforward flavours are easy to create and are less likely to be rejected. Think homemade potato fishcakes shaped and described as fishfingers – very easy to make and very satisfying for the cook if eaten up. Also, I’m hiding A LOT of chopped spinach in my very fussy 3yr old’s pasta pesto at the moment!
FFK: Sounds delicious!
Can you give our readers any favourite family friendly haunts from across the UK?
D: Cotswold Wildlife Park is a favourite of ours. Even on the busiest of weekends you can have a picnic in an uncrowded space whilst a rhino grazes in front you with a stunning country house in the background. Surreal almost. Or make a dash for the beach whenever you see sun – it’s always worth the effort.
When you’re not busy working and on daddy-duty, what do you like to do to unwind and relax?
D: My hobbies are very family unfriendly – golf, cricket, tennis or watching any live sport – so as a result I don’t get much of an opportunity to indulge. I’m playing the long game though; with three boys the sporting days will come back I’m sure!
FFK: Ha ha yes I’m sure your turn will come
What advice would you give our readers who want to start their own business?
D: Believe all the clichés. Whatever you read other small business owners saying about never being able to stop thinking about their work, getting sucked into the little things rather than focussing on big projects, wanting to be involved in every decision being made etc etc – it’s all true. Don’t get frustrated by it, just be conscious of it and, when you start getting better at running your business, trust others to look after the little things.
Do you have a motto?
D: I was talking about the business with the father of a friend of mine and he said “dal i fynd”. It’s a welsh expression which basically means “just keep going”. It doesn’t sound hugely inspiring I know but I like the notion – you’re doing things well, the business is going in the right direction, so just keep going and doing what you believe in.
Thank you for your time David – I know you are super busy. It’s so inspiring to hear how you successfully drive your business with all the commitments and demands of young children.
Brompton is all about good people who love food and enjoy it.
Open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-7pm and Sunday 10am-6pm