1. What was your first job in hospitality
Chris: Breddos Tacos?
Nud: Taco shack manager?
Chris: No actually saying that I used to work in a kitchen when I was a kid and I worked in various bars. I used to be a little prep monkey in the kitchen.
Nud: In fact I did work experience in a hotel as a bus boy. That was horrible, I am not surprised I ended up in a kitchen after that.
2. What is your favourite cuisine to eat – preferably not the one you work in?
N: Don’t lie now Chris! Basically Chris is going to lie, but come on you have to be honest. Say what your favourite place is to eat….
C: There is a difference between my favourite place and a place I eat at a lot.
N: For me it does vary quite a lot but currently it’s Japanese that I tend to revert to. Japanese or Thai. But I am basically eating in between, Koya, Som Saa and Tonkotsu.
C: Nud wants me to say McDonalds. But its not. I do eat McDonalds a lot, I think a double cheeseburger is a great burger. But yeah I guess I would say British breakfast and I am a really big fan of Lyle’s and what they do. Everything is brilliant there, so that sort of thing I would say is my favourite.
N: I would say that is quite a big contrast McDonalds to Lyle’s?
C: You’ve got to know the bad before you can appreciate the good
3. Which dish do you most associate with childhood?
N: Don’t lie Chris
C: I actually cooked it for my girlfriend
N: Full English Breakfast?
C: No it was strangely, faggots, peas and mash.
N: Nice. Old school. I grew up in Zambia so it would be a braai with T-Bone steaks on the BBQ and with something called milly meal which is like a rice, a milled rice, actually I don’t know if it’s rice. It’s a thing you boil and it turns a bit like mashed potato. No it’s maze meal! It's made from corn, what am I on about! Basically everyone in Zambia has it, from rich to poor and you dip it in gravy and it's great. Sort of a poverty dish but it’s very nice. That contrasted with T-bone steak is a bit different.
4. What’s the soundtrack to your first love?
C: I can actually tell you a song. I was in Beijing walking through the slums. I flew over there to see the first girl that I properly fell in love with and I worked really hard making cider in this factory so I could fly half way across the world and she dumped me on the basis that she couldn’t dump me in a letter or on the phone. I was like ‘it’s a bit different as you’re in China. You could have saved me a fortune.’ But I remember the album was Massive Attack, Protection, but the song was Slide. I remember I had my headphones in and just walking through this slum and all these Chinese people shouting at me and I was like…
N: Crying? Looking for McDonalds?
C: Yeah looking for McDonalds. But yeah for a first love, that is a very vivid memory.
N: Mine is nowhere near as elaborate as Chris’s or as thoughtful but, um to be honest, I know this is a really horrible thing to say but I don’t have one. I was trying to think of me crying over a girl to a song, but no I’ve never done it. The closest is with the girl I am with now, when I was travelling and I was missing her. It was Beth Orton, some like weird Beth Orton. Trailer Park, that album was quite like whiney and it was post travelling and I thought I was a hippy for a while.
5. What do you crave after a long shift?
N: Yeah, havoc, mayhem, naughtiness. I normally go straight for a boilermaker – so a shot of rye and a beer and then normally another one and onto a Penicillin or something like that.
C: It’s intense though isn’t it?
N: Weirdly you never feel like eating
C: No, no, straight for the bar isn’t it. I am a sucker for a whiskey sour. So 5 or 6 of those.
6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – what do you have?
N: Chris has a mushroom and bacon roll quite often from Euro Café on Kingsland Road or we go to Shoreditch House for a Full English Breakfast, which is pretty brilliant. I am always trying to get to Dishoom to have a bacon naan because they are great. I have actually had to go on my own because Chris never wants to go there.
C: That’s not entirely correct, you said Shoreditch house, you dangled the Full English in front of me and then you changed your mind, you can’t do that.
N: We basically just argue about where we are going to eat everyday.
7. What is your favourite word?
N: I knew you were going to say that!
C: Or fulcrum, I’m quite a fan of fulcrum as well.
N: This is something we have talked about on many occasions and zenith is a great word, fulcrum I am not really that fond of.
C: Yeah zenith is the zenith.
N: Infinite is quite a nice word. Something about it.
8. If you could go on a culinary extravaganza-eating holiday – where would you choose to do so?
N: Hah – we just did. Weirdly you know what, most people probably say Copenhagen or something like that, but we just got back from L.A. and I would just go back to L.A.
C: Yeah I would say exactly the same thing.
N: We didn’t have a bad meal there, we had loads in New York but none in L.A. Or Mexico City, that was really banging. But LA, I am itching to go back there. We really only touched the tip of the iceberg, there seems to be a really really energetic scene there at the moment. Especially in our cuisine, what people are doing with Mexican and Latin American food, I would say is probably the most progressive in America, for that cuisine.
C: I’d have to concur.
9. All at the same time or coursed out?
N: I quite like coursed meals personally. Although we serve our food ready to rock.
C: I'm quite an all at the same time guy.
10. What is the one area of working in a restaurant you wish you knew more of?
N: How to make more money. We are terrible at making money.
C: I would actually say front of house. You know you get masters of the trade who know how to work a room, who understand the toing’s and the froing’s and it’s a real art form. So yeah, I would like to know more about that.
11. What is the best cure for a hangover?
C: More booze.
N: I’d have to agree.
C: Although a bacon naan I can imagine would be quite good.
N: Oh come on don’t start with that now!
12. You’re allowed one shift drink – what is it?
N: I’ll have a shot of rye.
C: I’d have to go back to my old friend the whiskey sour.
13. What is the one thing which guests do that drives you mad?
C: Looking over the pass.
N: Yeah for me too, but that is a very street food thing. People just want to see what you’re doing and because the pass is open, people sort of lean their heads in and you have to sort of push their heads back because they are getting in the way of you actually being able to see and create their dish.
C: In our environment, I don't like when you get people who maybe sort of don’t like or get what you are trying to do. You are trying to do something interesting and then someone comes and puts ketchup on their dish.
N: Yeah someone did it the other night and put ketchup on their taco! Or we serve oysters and someone put mignonette on their tacos and I was like ‘mate what are you doing?’ I think people just see shit and think ‘oh yeah that’s for this’ and don’t think about it.
14. Do you have any rituals during a shift?
C: An argument before we start.
N: Yeah that’s always a good place to start I always try and nab the best apron and the thickest tea towels and hide them in the oven before anyone else gets them.
C: We have these denim aprons which were made for us, and we have 2 with our logo embroidered and if you can ever find them, they are in Nud’s bag.
15. What’s the last film you saw?
N: Magnolia. Yeah it took my two days to watch it but, yeah it was good.
C: Hmm what did I watch?
N: Don’t lie Chris.
C: No I’m not, because I love it so much and we probably watch it like once a week at the moment, it was Guardians of the Galaxy. I love it. And fact, it has one of the best soundtracks of any film post Pulp Fiction, I think it can punch up there with that.
N: Silver Linings Playbook – that’s a good soundtrack.
C: Yeah I’m sure it is but it’s just not Guardians of the Galaxy.
16. Best thing that has ever happened to you in a restaurant?
N: You know what mine was probably when I went to Noma and Rene Redzepi was there and we had a conversation about tacos. That was a pretty interesting chat talking about margins and tacos. Rene was like ‘Hey guys these guys make like 70% margins on their tacos, we should be doing that’ and last year he announced he’s opening a taqueria, so I feel like I have a role in that.
But that was pretty cool just to chat to him about food, to have been given an experience of a lifetime and then to meet the creator of that experience was pretty rewarding.
C: Nothing really comes to mind, I think good things happen all the time in restaurants.
N: You’ve probably had sex in a bathroom of a restaurant, that’s a pretty good thing to happen in a restaurant.
C: Yeah, I probably have.
17. What’s your tagline/motto
N: ‘We’re not Mexican’ or ‘Two Breddos, one shack, one dream.’ We have been fighting this thing where people always ask us if we’re Mexican and the answer is obviously no (laughing) so it sort of became this thing that we were the anti-authentic and that we take the ingredients and make something new with them rather than being something we are not.
18. Photography while eating – yay or nay?
C: Oh god! The amount of times I get told off because I eat the food.
N: He always eats the food before I can take a photograph of it. We went on this taco trail and a friend of ours is a video editor and he said to take a photograph of everything we eat and we’ll turn it into a stop motion film for our website. I was looking at the pictures the other night and all of them are a perfect meal with a corner taken out because Chris had gone in with a fork.
I use it more, but it’s also a reference for what I eat. Like our meal with Junya Yamasaki at Koya was 12 courses and I can barely remember the first one. A photograph allows me to remember what it was, not only on the menu but what it looked like. And when you are going for these crazy meals at Noma with 28 courses, it’s nice to go back. It also pushes people to your brand, like Gizzi Erskine for example will come and eat a tuna tostada on a Friday night and share sit with 60-70k people, and all of the sudden we have 100 customers the following week wanting to taste that tostada. It’s helping people to understand what is going on and educating people on what is going on in the food world.
C: It’s such a sensory-based thing, and to see pretty pictures of things I think works to tell people about what you’re making.
19. Rank the following in order of priority: wine, food, sex
N: Oh yeah, that’s a tough one. I think regardless of how good anything is, sex trumps it. For me anyway. Food is ultimately something you get a lot of pleasure from but you can’t procreate, so I think sex would probably go first.
C: I was going to say wine next.
N: They all link together.
C: Yeah I think one leads to the other – food, wine, sex.
N: It’s a vicious circle.
C: But I think sex, wine, food. Purely because food can be quite solipsistic in a way, kind of a solo thing, where as wine, no wait......
N: Yeah but food is social!
C: I am just saying how it works in my head!
N: We’ve agreed on sex being the first thing and then I would say food, wine. And you can go with sex, wine, food.
20. What would be your last meal – drinks included?
N: There are so many good things to eat! But I am really into sea urchins at the moment, so definitely have one of them somewhere. There is also something about a roasted chicken.
C: Your last meal you want a roasted chicken?
N: Yeah the other day we had one and I don’t know, it was really nice – good gravy. Or do you know what, a whole crab would be good. It’s so hard to say there is so much! It wouldn’t be in any type of cuisine for me, I think it would be more of a list. But yeah, at the moment that is what I really want to eat, chicken and crab.
C: For me just great ingredients cooked in any way, I don’t know maybe steak? And some beautiful glass of French wine. Simple. Maybe some Bordeaux or something.
21. What makes you happy?
N: The Sea always makes me very happy. I like being near water and that’s why I live in London.
C: Yeah the sea also.
N: And wearing shorts.
C: Um yeah obviously the sea is ace. Lets see what else?
N: Roll neck jumpers?
C: Yeah they do make me happy. But I think laughing, just being surrounded by fun.
N: Laughing makes you happy (laughing)
C: But it does though! You can be really pissed off and then someone will make you laugh and you’ll feel a bit better. The more you laugh the happier you are.
22. How do you relax?
C: A glass of wine and the stereo – just listening to music.
N: I like reading, so usually reading or going out for dinner with my fiancé.
23. What is the background on your phone?
N: A picture of my son with a thing behind him saying ‘Stay Rad’
C: Mine is a painted woman from Empellon Cocina in NYC, it just struck me as an amazing image. It’s just so life like and I loved it.
24. Favourite Instagram accounts to follow
@little_meg_siu_meg – ‘she’s good, she was at a restaurant the other day called Holy Phuc and I think she had no idea why that was funny.’
25. What is the best thing about working in hospitality?
N: From a culinary perspective, seeing peoples faces when you give them there food. Bringing joy to peoples lives is probably an overstatement, but as a person who goes and eats out a lot the pleasure you get from food, being able to give that to someone, there are not many industry’s you can have that relationship with people in. Finishing a shift and hearing from people that they have absolutely loved the food and they’ve had a great experience and the atmosphere and the vibes, like we actually did something. It’s why we go back for more.
C: Just generally the people. That connection, that close proximity to the person and their reaction to the product. Like Apple, I am sure Steve Jobs felt pretty pleased with himself when he made the IPhone but he probably wasn’t there that often when people got it out of the box.
N: I think there is something about the whole journey you go through. From the sourcing to the prep, the cooking, the delivery, it’s a circle and it’s got such a long chain.
26. Which restaurant are you ashamed to NOT have eaten at?
N: Probably Gavroche, The Ledbury and Royal Hospital Road.
C: I’d probably say Fat Duck.
27. Who is the person you most respect in the industry?
N: There are only certain people we have been exposed to and for me the most respect comes from people you are exposed to and that you get to know more. You hear about people and their reputation and what they have created and the way in which they have created it. Like for example Sam and Eddie Hart and what they have done with Barrefina and Fino and Quo Vadis, and obviously they know how to make really popular and successful restaurants. But I don’t know them. Ultimately there is one guy who I have the most respect for and that’s just because he’s nurtured us from a little pop-up shack to where we are now, and that’s Jonathan Downey. He really has been a massive conduit to everything and without him we wouldn’t be looking at our first site.
C: Yeah I have a lot of respect for him. But for more the chef kind of people as well is probably Nuno Mendes.
N: Yeah! I imagine from his position it must be really hard being the most personable and happy approachable person. I see him on Broadway Market and he always comes over and shakes my hand and asks about what we are doing and collaborating and all sorts of stuff.
28. What is your go to party trick?
C: I can make like an origami bird –that’s a trick? I don’t know how party it is but it’s a trick.
N: I don’t have one – that’s my trick.
29. Finish this sentence; I eat everything except ...