Franco Fubini set up his own transparent supply chain after finding it more and more difficult to access good quality seasonal produce. Read our interview with him to find out how Natoora was born, and why he chose to use Falcon Enamelware in his first ever cafe in West London.
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F: Can you tell us about how Natoora came about?
FF. It started with an idea in my head a long time ago when I was cooking for friends in New York and realised that it was becoming more and more difficult to get hold of good quality, seasonal produce. I built Natoora out of a desire to transform the way our food system works and get better quality food into consumers’ hands. I realised that the most effective way to do this was by starting with flavour and by working direct with farmers who put flavour first. Fast forward fifteen years and Natoora is totally revolutionising the food system, encouraging consumers to demand more from their food - from flavour to traceability - and feeding that need right back so that the system begins to correct itself. Our radically seasonal produce is now shaping the way chefs cook in over a thousand kitchens across London, Paris and New York. Through our own five Natoora stores and relationships with Ocado, Waitrose and Wholefoods, we are actively engaging consumers in a complete food system revolution.
F: What made you decide to open your first cafe?
FF. We are determined to create a better future of food and want to take everyone with us on that journey, from diners to chefs to growers. Natoora Counter brings to life our vision for a revolutionised food system and makes it more accessible. We were already sourcing incredible produce but a finished dish is more instantly relatable - sadly not many people know how to cook with in season produce anymore. Every ingredient on the menu is sourced through our own transparent supply chain and selected for sustainability, seasonality and flavour. The aim was to encourage our customers to know where their food is coming from and to realise the impact they can have on the way food is being farmed and supplied. By eating a radically seasonal bowl of Oscar Zerbinati’s Delica pumpkin, quinoa from Suffolk and kale from our own farm in Cornwall, we’re not only serving up incredible tasting food but also creating greater demand for real transparency in our food system.
F: You use Falcon enamelware in the Natoora Counter. What’s your favourite product and what do you use it for?
FF. We relied on Falcon long before Natoora Counter - it’s what we use for lunch in our team kitchen in Bermondsey, so it felt very natural to introduce it into our cafe. It’s how we eat day to day and what we use for our recipe testing; it's approachable and timeless and we didn't want to overthink it. Our favourite product would have to be the salad bowls, which we use at Counter to serve up a lot of our toasts and salads.
F: Can you describe or give any tips on the best places to eat, drink, source ingredients in your local area?
FF. Natoora sits in a railway arch in Bermondsey, one in a long line of dedicated food and drink producers. As part of Spa Terminus we have Neal’s Yard Dairy, Ancestrel Wines, Kernel Brewery, Ice Cream Union and Little Bread Pedlar (to name a few) as neighbours. We’re lucky to be surrounded by incredible food and producers who share our ethos. Every Saturday our community opens its doors to the public for a weekly market, allowing the public to shop directly from our arches - combining produce from everyone in Spa Terminus has got to be one of the best ways to eat.
F. Do you have any unusual food combinations you can recommend?
FF. Most people think of seasonality as four seasons, but by dividing produce like this, you actually miss out on lots of amazing flavour combinations that happen naturally in the overlap between the seasons. At Natoora we split our produce into Early, Peak and Late and recognise that every day is a new season: in reality, subtle shifts in flavour happen every day. At the moment we’re combining the last of the Reines Claudes greengages with new season hazelnuts from PIedmont for example, and will be serving porridge with peak season White Williams pears and early green mandarin zest.
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