4th July - the Hospitality Industry starts to reopen the doors but instead of rushing back to 'celebrate' what are we actually celebrating? In these new times there's more urgency than ever to re-address the meaning of 'Hospitality' (in which Priya Basil's Be My Guest is essential reading); in which we respect the heartbeats on the pavement like Velly's Ading's Kitchen 🇵🇭❗and the idea of eating something and not exchanging a story with the person who's laboured it is no longer sustainable. A shift where 'eating out' is not to fill a hole but to open one; an exploration not escape or indulgence, led by a 'rampant curiosity' to connect with who's behind it and an urgency to understand our 'right to wanderlust' with RESPECT for the routes taken by the owners who have fought to be here and serve it.
The media is dominated by people who have NOT shared the hospitality sector's lived-in experience or reflect their racial identity; instead of handing out £500 government spending packs for hospitality we need to go deeper and perpetuate the 'the right to wanderlust', unlearn and uncover how to explore the crannies and learn things, use our feet and define our values of where we shop for longer term changes by supporting the places that never stop giving and in London, it's actually harder to avoid them then hit the mass giants like Starbucks or Sainsbury's. The intricate, unsung backstories of the older diaspora generations DO need to be heard and aid our learning, because, with a domino effect of rising rent costs, gentrification, Brexit then COVID-19, whatever way we look at it, they are fading.
"Now is the time to ask questions of the way stories are told"; what are we eating for? What are we writing for and to whom are we writing? If it doesn't feed back to the people feeding us in respect, appreciation, emotional as well as financial value then we are not feeding into the sacred spaces we need to protect in this industry that are the always bending but not breaking, that are 'essential' fibres that flavour this city.
Food businesses of the diaspora, the people connecting communities and cultures through food and and their genuine love for 'hospitality', it is their stories we need to listen to. They have fought harder than anyone to grow their restaurants against the grain, communicate new foods to the UK (more often then not, when finally become popular are snatched and appropriated), who relied on their communities during covid not governement advice and 'rescue' packages. The very hybrid agile melting pot spaces they have created are beautiful and testament to their resilience. tried to sum up / give back to in bitter sweet ode to some of these businesses who otherwise are not being voiced, who are run by the older, migrant generation and are fading (and will hopefully turn into a series), in which we revalue the meaning of hospitality.
imp of the moment
Velly set up shop 7yrs ago after her girls left home. "It was my mission to get more people knowing about filipino food", and she loves interacting with people. The food is cooked by Velly and Chef Rodel: father of 2, who used to be a Second Wing Seaman in the Philippines for 21yrs. He wanted to be an engineer but had to stop to support his siblings, then moved to London when his wife came to work as a nurse in 2006. He started his way up as a porter in the kitchens. Rodel's favourite dish to cook is black pudding dinuguen
Velly came over 30+ yrs ago as a travel agent, met her husband and never left. She got into cooking when she was nannying and they asked her to cook 'Filipino noodles', using knowledge she learnt from family growing up in the Philippines. "Everything was cooked fresh as we didnt have any freezers" - why their dumplings and blue pea flour jackfruit #sapinsapin will blow your mind a bit. Velly tries to employ Filipino staff who've lost work due to Covid. Changes from lockdown? stayed open as takeaway only but was hard with delivery companies taking 40% cut. Without family help, might not have been able to keep going. Cooked for the #NHStaff at St Georges - had lots of friends in the Filipino community - big toll on mental health, especially after recent refurb cost and constant pressure to appeal to the changing crowds🍹. Few metres up - new wrap place Beyroots launch party is buzzing. But the shutters are down opposite Ading's (pic #3) run by a single mum who couldnt get support from the landlords/system.