Local residents Suzy and Hugh Lynch are putting the community at the heart of their new foodie project, The Shop NW10, and it’s going down a treat
Crab tacos have to be one of the tastiest foods to have ever been put on this planet. OK, so that’s a personal opinion, but the crab tacos that Suzy and Hugh Lynch are creating within the four walls of their pop-up project at The Shop NW10 in Kensal Rise are quite simply divine. And it’s all part of a wider project designed to offer great food and bring people together.
Having set up their company, Slow Down Food, in 2014, the couple are keen to invest in the local community and this passion has seen them getting involved in all sorts of projects, including the recent Fork to Fork food festival in aid of Ark Franklin Primary.
After working in the city for many years, Hugh made the decision to trade carbon for tacos and began running a series of supper clubs and kitchen residencies. Slow Down Food is taking over the kitchen at The Shop NW10 for a three month residency over the summer with ‘El Barrio’ Mexican street food.
Hugh is a New York City born, London raised slow-roasting chef who uses the best seasonal British produce to create sophisticated street food and, as Suzy points out, ‘it’s all slow cooked with love, of course’. Hugh’s American roots, time spent in Texas with family and travels in Central America inspired their latest Mexican ‘El Barrio’ menu.
Suzy, though, is a born and bred north west Londoner – perhaps the reason that their love for the community shines through in everything they do. As they explain to me their reasons and the excitement of getting involved in the local festival, it is clear that they are committed to serving the local area. ‘That’s why we called it El Barrio – it’s our barrio, community, and the village is at the heart of it all,’ enthuses Hugh.
They knew it had to be a social project, to fit in with the heart and soul of Kensal Rise – particularly of Chamberlayne Road
They knew it had to be a social project, to fit in with the heart and soul of Kensal Rise – particularly of Chamberlayne Road. ‘I’ve seen the huge changes that have happened here over the years, and since growing up I would say that this expression of community is summed up here now,’ says Suzy. ‘There’s a huge network of people and more and more people arriving – we really wanted to reflect this in The Shop. We’ve got regulars in the shop, but also people walking around with guidebooks of London now too.’
So how did it all actually come about? ‘In my year out, I started working at Leith’s restaurant because I absolutely love working in the kitchens and all the way through university I would always cook in my leisure time as it’s what relaxes me most,’ explains Hugh.
‘I had a chance to get out of the city, and since then we’ve had a baby, moved house and started little pop-up kitchens doing supper clubs in the house and then this is a sort of residency that has come from that. It came about by knowing people and socialising in the little village of Kensal Rise – it is all born from the people. The Shop is the definition of the pop-up concept.’
I said immediately that this place screamed tacos. I thought they would go really well with cocktails because they are a good social food for hanging out with friends
This idea of sharing something new and the concept of food bringing people together oozes from The Shop. ‘I said immediately that this place screamed tacos and not fine dining, and I thought they would go really well with cocktails because they are a good social food for hanging out with friends,’ says Hugh. ‘You can pop in, grab a taco and run away. People even buy them as a little snack before they have guests over for dinner a little bit later on in the evening.’
Not only is their business growing, but it is growing organically and completely immersed within the community. It is fair to say that they are dictated in many ways by the people around them and the changing needs and wants of society, and this is exactly the way that they want it to stay. And The Shop isn’t the only site that benefits from their pop-up.
‘We’ve got a sister pop-up site at the brand new Union Canal Deli just off Ladbroke Grove and we do both sites on a Thursday night,’ says Suzy. ‘With that and some of the food markets that we do, we are trying to maximise how much we can get out there and show our faces while still staying close to the epicentre of Kensal Rise.’ Right, back to those tacos…
See more at theshopnw10.com