Loved by top fashion brands and celebrities like Kate Moss, Penélope Cruz, Sienna Miller, Cara Delevingne, and Gisele Bündchen, Tart London specialises in healthy on-site cooking for fashion and film shoots from a pop-up kitchen.
Ran by Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones, Tart London has been in demand for its wholesome, fresh food that makes eating well fun since its launch in 2012. And in 2019, anyone can have a taste of what they cook up, with the opening of their debut restaurant.
Here, Lucy and Jemima chat about their new venture, the key to good health and the most famous person they’ve catered for.
We met … in our early 20s while living in New York through a mutual friend. Lucy was studying photography at the School of Visual Arts and Jemima was interning at Vanity Fair. We bonded over a love of good food and fantastic NY restaurants.
Once we returned to England … we started cooking for photo shoots. We were both working in the industry and it was really fun. We wanted to cook healthy,delicious, unpretentious food – always on-site. We would set up a little kitchen and cook away. After a few months the ball started rolling and it has never stopped.
Our first few jobs … were cooking in a wonderful house in Northumberland called Eglingham Hall. It was run by an old friend of Lucy’s, April Potts, who is an amazing cook. Lucy used to assist her on shoots – cooking real, home-cooked food for the fashion lot. It was about good quality ingredients, all being cooked fresh in the kitchen that morning. It was a far cry from the piles of sandwiches or over-cooked chicken breasts that would be delivered to shoots in London. We loved this way of cooking. For us, it’s all about adding rather than taking away. We have never told people not to eat particular types of food, instead we try and make dishes that everyone can eat and add zingy dressings or a roasted nut crunch.
Since setting up our catering company Tart London in 2012 … the response has been very positive. We have worked with some of the most talented and creative people which has been incredibly inspiring and has pushed us to always try our hardest and do the best job that we can. I think people see that. We are lucky that people have been so kind and supportive because its been tough at times.
Tart London’s ethos is all about … enjoying a well-balanced life.
Seasonality and sustainability are … the basis of our cooking. What is in season tastes better and is full of nutrients, so why wouldn’t you cook that way?
Growing up … on a farm, we learnt the importance of sustainability and how it all works. When we were first starting out people rarely knew what sustainable farming was – it’s refreshing that now most people have a good understanding. We have a few very good suppliers … our fruit and vegetables come from a shop in Camden called Parkway Greens which has the most fantastic variety of fresh foods. It’s a beautiful colourful shop. We get our meat either from our own farms [Lucy’s family own Hedgeley Farms in Northumberland and Jemima and her husband, Ben Goldsmith, own Cannwood Farm in Somerset] or a local butcher. Our fish comes from a good fishmongers and we also shop at Queen’s Park farmers’ market on a Sunday.
We look for foodie inspiration … everywhere! We are so lucky to live in an amazing city with some of the most incredibly inspiring restaurants – pop-ups, markets, demos – it’s all going on. Further afield it’s New York, LA and Melbourne. Instagram can also be inspiring too, what we like about it is you find out about little neighbourhood spots that otherwise you might miss.
This year we released … our first cookbook: A Love of Eating. We had been working on it for a while, compiling our recipes and stories while working on shoots over the years. We had been offered a contract by a few publishers in the past – but it didn’t feel right. They all had ideas for what the book should be about. When Penguin came knocking on the door and said that they wanted us to do an honest book with no other angle it felt right. They have been really supportive. It was just the right time and we could really throw ourselves into it.
The book is full of … our favourite recipes, dishes that we cook everyday at home and for our families as well as on catering jobs. Our top favs include the smoked haddock with fennel; tarragon and crispy sage; the pork and fennel ragu; the saffron roasted peppers and tomatoes; crispy chickpeas and buckwheat with labneh; Goan baked eggs and the peanut butter cups.
It is so important to … eat wholesome and nourishing food because it gives you energy and superpowers for the day.
We are opening … our debut venue Wild By Tart at the start of 2019. It’s something that we have been talking about doing for years now. It’s taken a long time to find the right space. We have spent our time going into other people’s studios and cooking so why not open our own studio with an all-day dining restaurant, grab-and-go deli, bar, homeware retail area and photography and events studio?
We had our first pop-up … three years ago and although it was hard work we loved every second of it and knew that having our own place was going to be the next step for us. We wanted to make somewhere that felt creative, unpretentious and easy. We are teaming up with Wild at Heart who are going to fill the space with trees and plants turning it into an oasis, an escape from the crazy city outside.
We were inspired by … a furniture and lifestyle shop in Mallorca that also had a very good restaurant. We loved that you could buy everything from the glassware to the tables. So we thought, “let’s design our own ranges,’ and it’s been so fun. We have suppliers dotted all over the place – we have designed our main range with a potter in the south – and also from Puglia, Mallorca and Morocco.
The food on offer at the restaurant … is small sharing dishes. It’s just food that we love, and the grab-and-go deli is a reflection of this. Good quality ingredients is the basis, and the dishes themselves are inspired from our travels. We have a wood-burning oven and charcoal grill where we will be grilling fresh fish stuffed with Sri Lanken spices, or little bubbling cheesy numbers, or big hunks of meat from our farms charred with maybe a fresh Mexican salsa. All the dishes will be fresh and exciting.
At the Tart Juice Bar … you have the ability to create juice based on how you feel or want to feel. By simply answering a few questions, our accomplished assistant will be able to make a tailored recommendation from the apothecary which stocks adaptogenic herbs, spices, bush flowers and nootropics.
The key to good health … is rooted in recognising the concept of bio-individuality. Although we all need a consistent supply of micronutrients as a foundation, our personal needs vary depending on a multitude of both innate and environmental factors from genetics to the amount of sleep we get.
We are recipe testing at the moment … for the restaurant, deli and events and we have just brought onboard an excellent head chef who will be running the kitchen. Once Wild By Tart is up and running, we will be splitting our time between being in the kitchen and running the business.
If we gave you £10 to spend on food or drink, what would you buy?
Wine and cheese! We would each spend our £10 on either a good bottle of white and the other on a chunk of something delicious from La Fromagerie. If it was Friday, we would get the truffle Brie.
What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Chilli as there are so many different kinds – we love the different tastes, depths and heat.
Who is the most famous person you’ve catered for?
Years ago we cooked for Penélope Cruz which was pretty much the dream. She was so cool and nice.
What has been your favourite job to cater for so far?
The ones on location in the summer – cooking outside with the sun rising, away from hectic London. Heaven!
READ MORE: We share two recipes from Tart London’s cookbook – a delicious Buffalo Mozzarella and Roasted Black Grape Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Smoked Sea Salt and an indulgent White Chocolate, Cardamom and Raspberry Tart with a Pecan and Hazelnut Base
Main image © Bella Howard