The founder of Wahaca talks to Jessica Jonzen about juggling motherhood with business and the Fork to Fork Food Festival
AS WELL AS RUNNING WAHACA, HAVING THREE DAUGHTERS, WRITING COLUMNS AND BOOKS, AND SUPPORTING NUMEROUS CHARITIES, YOU’VE CO- FOUNDED THE FORK TO FORK FOOD FESTIVAL.TELL US MORE…
Back in 2013, my local school in Kensal Rise was failing and had a terrible reputation, but it had this very beautiful but unused land. The school got taken over by Ark and I was very concerned about saving the garden. School children run around outside less than prisoners in this country – it’s a really awful statistic and I feel strongly about the importance of children having time in the fresh air and seeing how their food grows. I thought that if we built a really inspirational garden in the school then they’d be less likely to sell it. I hosted an auction dinner to raise the first chunk of money to turn the land around.
At around the same time, I met Laura Harper-Hinton, the founder of Caravan. Her cousin, the chef Margot Henderson, runs the Soho Food Feast and she thought we could do the same at Ark Franklin. It’s now our third year and we have chefs including Skye Gyngell, Margot Henderson, Yotam Ottolenghi, Jeremy Lee, Jose Pizarro, Brett Graham and more.
YOU’VE GOT SO MANY AMAZING CHEFS INVOLVED IN THE FORK TO FORK FESTIVAL. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT CHEFS THAT GIVES THEM THIS GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT?
I think people who cook really care about this stuff because we all eat very well, we all love eating and trying to reinvigorate the food culture in this country has become a crusade – almost a religion with chefs, I would say.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT COULD BE DOING DIFFERENTLY TO TACKLE CHILDHOOD OBESITY?
One in 10 children start primary school obese and when they leave it goes up to one in five. It doubles while they’re at primary school. Ofsted only started looking at food in their assessments of schools last September. Up until then, what children were eating had absolutely no relation to how good their school was deemed to be and yet we know that when kids are fed bad food they can’t concentrate. This year, the Fork to Fork Food Festival is not only raising money to further develop the blueprint in this school, but it is also donating some of the proceeds to both the Chefs in Schools and Flavour School charities to get children eating better. Eating, whether alone or with others, should always be a nourishing experience.
Fork to Fork food festival 2018 will be held on Saturday 16 June at ARK Franklin Primary Academy in Kensal Rise from 12pm–6pm; franklinforktofork.com