StrEAT Food Awards interview

We talk to Robbie Lorraine, founder of Only Food and Courses - which has been receving rave review since it opened in Pop Brixton recently...

What does your job typically entail?  
My role is quite broad, so the answer to that question really depends on when you ask me. As the chef of our restaurant, my main role is obviously preparing and cooking all of our food; but beyond that, I also oversee the day-to-day running of the business.

How did you get into the industry?  
I started out by doing NVQs in catering and hospitality at Westminster Kingsway College and working part-time in local restaurants. Once I completed my NVQs, I secured a one-day college release with the caterer Aramark Food Services UK and it went from there.

What’s your favourite part of your working day?  
Definitely when service starts. There’s nothing like the buzz you get from a busy restaurant. That’s something I missed a lot during lockdown, but it’s great to see things slowly starting to get back to normal. 

And your least favourite?  
Probably the end of the night when service is over and it’s time to wash up! But it’s got to be done. 

What’s your favourite food and beverage? 
I love a good hotpot. It’s one of those hassle-free dishes that you can start in the morning in the oven, and when you come back to it later it still tastes perfect. For me, there’s nothing better than the smell of meat and potatoes coming from the kitchen. It’s a classic combination with a comforting heartiness and it really reminds me of home. Plus slow cooking generates that intense flavour that’s hard to beat. 

And your least favourite?  
That would have to be mustard, since I’m allergic to it! Okra is definitely up there as well as being one of my least favourite foods. It seems to be used a lot more by chefs in London now, but I can’t understand why. That slimy texture and bitter taste does nothing for me. 
Drink-wise, it would have to be rootbeer. It’s just wrong in my opinion. Does anyone actually like the stuff? 

What is the biggest factor currently affecting the industry?  
Covid is the obvious answer, but it’s hard to stay what the aftermath is going to look like at this stage. Restrictions are still a big factor for the majority of us, with many restaurants operating at a fraction of their capacity. It definitely feels like we still have a long way to go.

That being said, the support we’ve received from our guests has been fantastic. It seems like a lot more people are keen to get back to dining out, so fingers crossed it will only be positive from here on out. 

What one piece of advice would you offer someone working in the industry?  
Get your head down and be prepared to work your socks off and you will achieve your goals. It goes without saying that now is a tough time to be in hospitality but stick with it. The sky is the limit!

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