More recently, Michele gave her venture a more permanent home in London’s Battersea, with the opening of The Full English Kitchen at The Candlemaker. Celebrating the best of British comfort food, everything on the pub menu is made from scratch, using seasonal, local produce from small British family farms.
And Michele’s passion for local goes beyond the kitchen...She launched ‘Battersea MyStreet’, a social campaign to get locals buying well and locally, and her weekly in-house events are expanding to encompass street food markets on Fridays. Even her cocktails are sourced from ‘Herb Hospital’, Michele’s own garden of salvaged herbs.
Michele shares with us her passion for British produce, her tips for running a successful business, and gives us a glimpse into life as a Head Chef and entrepreneur…
Who/what inspired you to set up The Full English?
Greasy spoon Cafés! I love the atmosphere and mix of people, the simplicity of the service and the food. I thought there must be a way to take this concept, and improve it, using better ingredients from British farms, and cooking from scratch.
How has your location influenced your business?
A community spirit is crucial. We recently launched the Battersea MyStreet campaign to rejuvenate Battersea High Street and encourage people to shop locally. It is one of the original London street markets and we’re getting together with the community and Council to bring it back to its former glory.
How do you react to the changing marketplace?
I don’t! My ideas have evolved over time, but my goals and aims are constant – to support small British family farms and produce simple food well.
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing food service businesses today, and what are you doing to overcome this?
Spiralling costs in London is making it harder for the small business to survive, let alone thrive. That’s why I started out as a ‘pop-up’ – it gave me the chance to develop my business without the initial huge outlay.
Partnering with the Laines Pub group at The Candlemaker has been a fantastic opportunity for me. They are incredibly supportive and have an outstanding business model that they are constantly developing. The team’s work ethic is a big part of their success. Eventually, though, I will have to look toward crowdfunding platforms if I want to find a permanent home.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Having a vision is important, but so are numbers…Do the maths!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other chefs/entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the industry?
Don’t lose sight of your vision and ENJOY IT, if you’re not having fun you won’t give it your best!
What’s your signature dish?
Shredded lamb shepherd’s pie.
When you get the chance, where do you enjoy eating out?
Capitan Corelli on the Battersea Park Road have proper homemade Italian food and a great atmosphere and Flour to the People for one of the best breakfasts in London.
What would be your dream meal? (starter, main and dessert)
All made by my mother: Macaroni Alforno, Rabbit Casserole and her Gypsy Tart is sublime!
Which five people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
What are the three food items you’d take to a desert island?
Onions, garlic, pasta.
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you couldn’t live without?
A good knife.