NOTE – This feature was written by Angelica Malin and originally published on About Time Magazine.co.uk, January 2019.
Fiercely independent and proudly selling the best of British produce, The Camden Grocer is a wonderland fully stocked with artisan cheeses, meats and Great Taste award-winning products. We chatted to co-owner Scots Winston about the rise of UK food brands, competing with supermarket heavyweights and what’s next:
Tell us about The Camden Grocer – what’s the idea behind the store and cafe?
Camden Market has always been a creative destination for retail, with a global reach, and we saw an opportunity therefore, to develop a truly unique food retail environment for the market. We worked closely with the market owners over several months to develop an offer that would help draw in a new demographic, as well as creating a space that would still appeal to the existing customer base.
The Stables Yard at the North of Camden Market is fast becoming a foodie enclave with a cultivated offering of food vendors, and we knew that a significant point of difference would be for us to offer an edit of the very best cheese, charcuterie and grocery products from around the world.
What sort of products can be bought?
As a food store, we place great importance on championing Great Taste award-winning products. For example, the 2018 supreme champion; Mount Mayon Pili Nuts with Ecuadorian Cacao, which are unlike any nut you will have tried before!
We are also keen to support new-to-market brands such as Portobello Attic dairy-free cheesecake and Can-d Foods maple smoked salmon, which are both only available in a handful of shops around town. We want our shop to be a hotbed of the very latest products and food trends, as well as offering more established brands, but with a focus on taste.
What British food brands should everyone know about?
There are so many brands to shout about here, where to start! Some personal favorites right now include Darkwoods Coffee, No. 1 Rosemary Water, Capreolus British Charcuterie, Bermondsey Street Honey and Dorset Sea Salt.
How do you manage to compete with supermarket heavyweights?
We are working in different spaces, often appealing to the same customer, but our offers are fundamentally different. In many respects we can complement each other; rather than compete. We have a large supermarket in very close proximity to The Camden Grocer, and we see this as a great opportunity for those customers to visit us and top-up their weekly shop with products that you won’t find in the supermarket aisles.
What Great Taste Products are your favourites?
Where to start! Akesson’s Madagascar Bejofo Estate 75% Criollo Cocoa (3-star) is a firm favorite. Produced from a limited harvest of beans this fine chocolate has a very expressive aroma with subtle fruity-sweet tartness.
Darwoods Under Milkwood Blend (3 star), this blend is designed to ‘melt’ into milk to give a sweet caramel flavor, it is utterly incredible.
What condiment can’t you live without?
MIMO Alioli and Salsa Brava – these go on almost everything that I eat! MIMO is a collection of artisan food products sourced from small producers across Spain, based in the gastronomic heaven that is San Sebastian.
What do you think is going to be the next big trend in terms of artisan food produce in 2019?
I think there are a few key trends that will be prominent this year, including:
Healthy Aging will see consumers looking for lifestyle products that will help prepare them for a longer, healthier lifespan. Brands such as No1 Rosemary Water are already working in this space and receiving.
Plant-based and conscious eating has already firmly ingrained itself in the British culture but we will certainly see this continue to grow in popularity.
Zero packaging will become more accessible with an increased number of ‘plug-and-play’ options for retailers becoming available – check out ‘Unpackaged’ by the incomparable Catherine Conway, which will launch in The Camden Grocer during January.
What’s next for you guys?
Watch this space! We have a number of projects in the pipeline… However, our business model going forwards is to build exciting and dynamic food destinations that complement the environments they occupy. As a team we will fall back on our broad experience to ensure each opening is relevant, fresh and new.
Favourite place for coffee in London is:
Outside of The Camden Grocer, I’m going to go with The Gentleman Baristas in Southwark, great space, amazing coffee and awesome people
Favourite restaurant in London is:
This is just too divisive to answer, but one of the many great things about London is the sheer density and variety of amazing places to eat across the city. Three restaurants that currently stick in my mind are XU, Temper and The River Café.
North Yard, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH
Photo Credit: Adrian Lourie