We love talking about food and talking to lovely people about their love of plant-based food. This week, we’re featuring eco-chef George Blower, a head of his much loved supper club, Blower’s Place. George delivers a stunning five course tasting menu that is vegan-by-default with a welcome cocktail, and all the good times!
Hopefully, you will also see why we have been such a big fan of his supper clubs!
I set up Blower’s Place after a career change in early 2019. I’d worked in food for the last six years, and dabbled as a chef on top of my day job with the likes of Tom Hunt, Nuno Mendes and Alex Helly-Hutchinson without fully committing to the craft. It wasn’t until late last year when I realised my role in food wasn’t behind a macbook in brand strategy, and was instead hands on with food.
My aim with Blower’s Place is to showcase dishes that are largely, what I like to call, vegan by default. This was born out of a frustration at family dinners or with friends being asked ‘so what do you eat as a vegan’ and the like. I want to show that there are dishes and flavour combinations that are naturally delicious and vegan, and how we don’t always need to rely on tofu, quinoa or cashews. More than that though, my work is underpinned by three core pillars that I want to encourage more people to think about when it comes to food. They inform everything I do, and help curate the menus and experiences as a result. These are:
1 - Source seasonally. Let nature dictate what we eat, and really champion produce as it comes into season. Celebrate it with all kinds of different recipes and enjoy it while it lasts, before bidding it farewell and welcoming in the next set of seasonal stars. I strongly believe that when we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, things get boring and we become complacent. This is exactly the case with food.
2 - As sustainably as possible. This means not only buying seasonal produce, but ensuring it comes from within the UK, and if you can, from farmers that follow organic practices. It is very important to be aware of what we are buying and from where. I’d like to highlight though, that when it comes to sustainability for me it’s really about doing the best that you can. Everything we do is bad or has some kind of affect on our environment, so I believe it’s about choosing the level of bad we’re happy with, and always trying to better it.
3 - Minimal waste. My aim is to be totally zero waste, but right now that’s a work in progress. For me this is about using up bi-products of ingredients and cooking root to fruit. I find it incredibly empowering to be able to use the whole part of the ingredients I buy, and produce dishes that are really tasty, and not just using them up for the sake of it.
Most definitely. Not a complete reversal, but there needs to be a change on a global scale. It’s fantastic to see more and more people reducing their meat intake and eating more plants. I believe there is a place for meat, fish and dairy within our diets, just drastically less than what it is now. More than that, it’s reared in a way that benefits the environment, rather than taking away from it.
The language we use has a large part to play in it. I love plant-based products and substitutes such as chickpea tofu, nutritional yeast flakes and the like, but I feel that these can be intimidating to the would-be plant eater. In my cooking and supper clubs I aim to create dishes that even the most carnivorous of eaters (and I’ve served a fair few!) enjoy, and are made with ingredients that are more widely known.
Garlic. Confited it makes my favourite ever condiment. Steamed, roasted, minced and more, it brings so much to dishes.
Sea salt. Whether it’s taking heritage tomatoes to a whole new level with just a pinch, elevating my aquafaba chocolate mousse to something even more elegant, or using to encrust root vegetables for salt-baking, it’s so vital to plant-based cooking.
Miso. Or in fact any kind of umami boost. Sometimes I use Kombu from Cornwall, other times it’s a jar of organic miso.
A favourite of mine is a whole roasted cauliflower, taking to the point of heavy charring, and basted in a mix of cumin, coriander and mustard seeds. Reserving the leaves I roast these with fennel seeds also, then tumble it all together and season with salt and lemon. Into this goes some yellow sultanas for jammy sweetness, whatever herbs I have in the fridge (usually parsley or mint) and some diced preserved lemon. To make a complete meal, I pair this with butterbean hummus with plenty of tahini, and maybe some quick flatbreads with equal parts coconut yoghurt and flour.
If it’s veg focussed, and not all vegan, then the vegetarian set menu from Lyle’s is always amazing, as are the small plates at Towpath Cafe in East London. If it’s full vegan fare I’m after, then I’ll venture to Bristol to The Ethicurean. If I’m honest, I’m yet to find a fully vegan restaurant in London that has been the perfect balance of deliciousness and seasonality, and isn’t packed with quinoa and tofu.
2019 is a year of learning for me. I finished culinary school earlier this year to nail the fundamentals, and have simply been saying yes to all the opportunities that come my way. I currently work at Origin Coffee, in their flagship site in Southwark as Sous Chef. However in October I’ll be moving to Silo as they launch in Hackney. As for the future, it’s knuckling down at Silo and learning as much as I can, and trying to do the supper clubs on the side, if time permits! The dream? Maybe a small-plates place with natural wines and great ferments, or it’s a small-holding, or something completely different, who knows! It’ll definitely remain in food though, that’s for certain.
My next supper club is on 27th September, 19.00-22.30 at Origin in Southwark. There’ll be a welcome cocktail on arrival, five course tasting menu and tasty treats throughout. You can book by visiting this link