Joe Allen and Aaron Thomas, the chefs behind pop-up restaurant KityCow, are hoping to to open a permanent restaurant elsewhere in London when their residency at Hush in Mayfair ends on 31 May.
The former My Million Pound Menu contestants, who have been running their Indian Nepalese-inspired pop-up within Jamie Barber’s restaurant since the beginning of February, are currently seeking investors to help them realise their dream of opening a permanent site in the capital.
Since operating their pop-up at Hush, Allen and Thomas have received high praise for their food, which draws inspiration from Thomas’s Indian heritage (his parents were born in Kolcata) and Allen’s personal ties to Nepal (his wife is Nepalese).
The Westminster Kingsway College graduates said the residency has allowed them to ‘tweak’ dishes such as pani puri, Chicken Korma, ‘Pakku’ pork chop, and their take on Bombay aloo – grilled Jersey Royal potatoes, Bombay aloo sauce and curried potato spaghetti – as well as experiment with serving formats.
“It’s been like a development kitchen in some respects where we could trial dishes and learn what works and what doesn’t work,” said Allen.
Thomas added: “When we started we ran an a la carte and a tasting menu alongside each other and we found that the tasting menu had more uptake. Not many were choosing from the a la carte, so what we’ve done now is put a few snacks and small plates, then some larger plates on the menu, so there’s more of a sharing ethos. That’s the style we are looking to go down now and will work better for us in the long-run.”
The chefs, who travelled to Australia together and worked in London before coming up with the idea for their own restaurant, say their business’s ideal location would be in one of London’s neighbourhoods, where their food would feel more at home.
Allen said: “When Mayfair came up we jumped at it, but didn’t realise we’d be on the first floor within a restaurant and it has been tough getting people to realise we’re here at times.”
Until their dream becomes a reality, the pair plan to return to full-time work while continuing to operate KityCow as a pop-up.
Although they were weren’t successful in winning investment through the BBC 2 series My Million Pound Menu, they are grateful that their aspiring restaurant venture – then named XXVI – captured the attention of chef and investor Atul Kochhar and Barber, who decided to offer them the first-floor space at Hush to trial their concept with the public.
“We never really thought anything would come of My Million Pound Menu,” said Allen, “although we were told that things would come along. We just invited Jamie and Atul to our last pop-up and then when Jamie turned around and said ‘I’ve got this space in Hush, do you want it’, we knew it was a great opportunity from the beginning.”
Article by Emma Eversham