Trader of the day
I started on this market when I was five years old on my grandmother’s stall, selling caulis for a shilling each. My dad was the last man to go to Spitalfields market on a horse and carriage. That was about 25 years ago. That means I’ve been here for 37 years. This was my first home.
I enjoy every single day on the market because every day is different. You never have two days the same. I like the people. It makes my day. I don’t like the rain though. I’m not a greengrocer that likes the rain.
We haven’t had a Ridley’s get together for ages. But we used to. We used to get a coach, about thirty of us and go out. We’d go to Southend.
I cook up something from my stall every night. My favourite is spring greens. I’d chop it up and cook it in a little bit of garlic. That’s my recipe for you.
I’m Tomás Valle, Tommi for most friends, born (1980) and raised in Porto, Portugal. I grew up in the typical portuguese environment of permanent contact with food and family cooking, the norm of getting together while eating. Social contact here revolves around food!
My formation is in graphic design (dropped out of architecture), but I now work as a multitask for the restaurant Canastra Azul, in the historical center of Porto. I manage, clean, cook, socialize and also push forward the development of a cultural agenda and creative hub (mostly) for local artists. We work with a different concept of restaurant, our food is based around the amazing canned food artisan industry we have around us. We also differ because of the ever changing decoration and menu.
I think Ridley’s is a wonderful idea, something that should evolve to a more permanent concept, maybe even expanding to all the markets. There is an urgent need across the western world to reconnect ourselves with the old ways, to comprehend the importance of a sustainable local environment in which the markets play a very important part. The industrialization of food is destroying everything traditional, the food is becoming tasteless, wrapped in layers of plastic and cardboard, cloned to look beautiful instead of just being imperfect and tasteful. Being able to go to a market, to know the origin of the products, to socialize with the sellers, to find local farmers and local species of crops, that should be a part of everyday life.
By mixing together the concept of the market and the restaurant, people easily can get attracted to what the market has to offer to your senses, to inspire you to replicate dishes and ideas at home, to talk about it with friends and family and eventually developing a relationship with the market and its people in which not only you buy but you also learn and get inspired.
When Mariana Pestana (from The Decorators) talked to me about it I had to convince her I was up to the challenge. Now it is time for Londoners to evaluate if I’m up to the job!
Canastra Azul : www.facebook.com/canastraazul
Logic is Overrated (my videographer project): www.vimeo.com/logicisoverrated
Steve Wilson (People’s Kitchen) and Duncan O’Brien (Sustain: Ethical Eats)
Steve and Duncan met as chefs in a dubious pub kitchen in 2009, and now work together on unique food projects, as colleagues and friends, alongside some of London’s most exciting chefs. Last year Steve founded The Peoples Kitchen – a weekly (Sunday) community event in Dalston bringing volunteers together to cook using food surplus from nearby businesses. Duncan works for Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming where he promotes and supports London food businesses in adapting towards sustainability. Their menu will highlight the issue of food waste by rescuing some of Ridley Road Market’s end-of-day ‘waste’ and putting it on the menu. They want to encourage diners to think of ways to tackle the problem. Steve and Duncan are interested in the social, cultural and environmental impact of food production, as well as the more obvious and perhaps most important curiosity of taste.