Jack speaks with Lucy Hambro, the woman with the very good idea that is Wiggies, a pork centric, London based popup restaurant which brings a very new take on using the humble pig as an ingredient in well…just about everything.
Jack asks Lucy about the Ghostbusters, culinary philosophy and sustainable agriculture. Turns out that she started Wiggies for very good reasons (and we’re not just talking about making people’s tastebuds confused and happy at the same time…)
As always, he asks her some sensible questions and some not sensible questions…
Could you give us a little backstory on why, how and when Wiggies was founded and what it’s all about? Why’d pork? How did you get into pop up food and drink anyhow?
I wanted to raise awareness of the massive food waste problem in the UK and the importance of nose to tail eating. I thought that if I put the issue into context of a pop up restaurant it would get great exposure and would take a serious issue and help to raise its profile in an exciting way.
The Pig is the only animal that you can eat the entire thing so we try and put as many different cuts on our ever changing menu. I have worked in Restaurant Marketing in the past and so I thought I could use this experience to create a strong online community for the Restaurant through social media.
What your favourite pork recipe? Of all of Wiggies’ delicious offerings, which would you recommend that people tried, if they had to have just one?
I enjoy serving the ‘less often’ used cuts such as the tails and trotters, people are surprised by how delicious they can be and I love seeing the conversation around the food within a group. People often share these dishes and I think all food should be shared and celebrated.
Our menu changes constantly but the Black Pudding scotch eggs and our famous Pig Mac, pulled pork shoulder have proved very popular.
What’s your culinary philosophy, in a sentence?
To know where your meat has come from and in what condition it has been reared, if we ate less meat, we could then afford to buy meat that has been reared in the correct conditions and support British Farmers.
How do you ‘become’ a food entrepreneur? What would you like to pass on to aspiring foodies looking to start their own businesses in the food sector?
To become a food entrepreneur you must have not only the love of food but a love of hospitality and the excitement of the interaction between you and your customer. Be willing to put in the long hours! It’s certainly no easy ride but the love of seeing people eat your food should drive you.
What’s a ‘day in your life’ like? Could you give us an insight into the restaurant/food and drink industry that you’re involved in?
Wiggies currently has two locations so my days are usually front of house at our location in St Pauls and then over to Soho to see how everyone there is getting on. I have a great team who I ask a lot of, especially as we are stretched between the two. It has been the most challenging thing, finding a great team of people that you can heavily rely on.
What does the great British public need to know about pork and Wiggies? What one thing would you tell them, if you had a megaphone and the entire country’s ear?
Demand questions of where your meat has come from, demand good quality from your supermarkets or butchers and support the welfare of our British pig farmers rather than buying cheap imported pork. If we ate less meat, we could afford to do this. We routinely eat too much meat.
How did you discover your head chef and how did you get her aboard? When I was there I noticed definite Indian influence on the food. It was great.
Our head Chef came over from India to help me, She is an old friend who has lived and worked there for the past three years. The Indian influences have come from her experiences.
If you weren’t doing this, what’d you be doing instead?
Devoting more time to Sustainability committees that I am part of and helping promote the serious ethical questions in a fun and contemporary way through marketing and communications. Capturing a young and active audience is the best way and social media is brilliant for that.
What’s the hardest part of the whole experience been, and what have you learnt from it?
Hiring reliable staff, you demand alot of them and there are long hours so I am grateful that they have stuck by me! Its certainly a team effort, everyone has their role to play and I have learnt from everyone who has helped.
When I visited you, you were based at The Rising Sun near Farringdon – where do you go next and how does it work with you finding new ‘residencies’ etc?
We are still at the Rising Sun, St Pauls and have expanded for two months to Soho for a short summer pop up there. We will be at FEAST this weekend and Street Feast over the Winter too.
What’s next for you and Wiggies?
Due to the popularity of The Pig Mac, we have created the Pig Mac Shack which is heading to the Street and will be selling at food markets for the coming year.
We always ask two customary ridiculous questions…
If you had to employ a member of The Ghostbusters to work at Wiggies, who would you choose?
I have NO idea who any of the Ghostbusters are sorry! Never watched it!