You’ve pretty much made it when your client list reads names such as Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Cara Delevingne and Eddie Redmayne, but Tart founders Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones weren’t going to stop there.
After fuelling the A-list with their catering company Tart, the duo went on to write a book, nab a weekly column in ES Magazine and last year, launch their own bricks and mortar restaurant, Wild By Tart, an impressive 9,000 sq. ft, former power station and coal store that now plays host to a restaurant, bar, deli and kiosk, retail store, events space, and photography studio.
If you’ve yet to try their food, do. Aside from it being seasonal, British where possible and relatively healthy, it’s utterly brilliant. Each dish a burst of texture, flavour and colour; Instagram-pretty but unpretentious, the duo make food we all wished we could cook at home.
We sat down with one half of the business, Lucy, to find out how they’ve coped with the most stressful year to hit the restaurant business ever and hear all about their plans for the future.
We’re finally seeing some light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. What was the experience like for you?
It was devastating having to close the doors of Wild by Tart. Looking on the bright
side, we’ve learnt a lot during this time and we’re pleased to see things slowly picking back
The hospitality industry has been hit really hard. How have you coped?
It has been hit hard and we, like many others, have tried to innovate and come up with ways
to keep the business going whilst our doors were closed.
We launched Tart at Home, our online shop selling; freshly prepared meals, fruit, veg and groceries from some of our favourite suppliers.
The online shop is still open for delivery and we are also introducing lots of these products to our Deli, which is now also reopen.
Has it affected the way your business will run in the future?
For now, yes. We have reopened with a pop-up restaurant for now, before reopening the whole venue later this summer. It will take time before people feel confident again and whilst it’s beginning to look better there are still a number of government guidelines to follow in order to make it safe place for people to visit and work.
What changes have you had to make?
Our pop-up is open Wednesday to Sunday outdoors in Eccleston Yards and we are running a smaller menu serving food from the grills and wood-oven. Guests now order by scanning a QR code on their phone, in order to reduce contact time with our staff. The pop-up, which is moved indoors when the weather is bad, operates with the one-metre social distancing policy in place.
Do you think there was enough support for small businesses and particularly restaurants?
The UK has been lucky with the furlough scheme, it’s terrifying to think about what would have happened had this not been created. However, a lot of restaurant staff’s salaries are made up with Tronc (from service charge) and the government furlough scheme only accounted for their basic wage not the full wage.
What did it feel like when you heard Boris make the announcements?
It was a sad moment but also, a slight relief. In the lead up to that moment, there was so much speculation and no real answers as to what to we were meant to do. At least, when the announcement was made, we were left with no choice.
What did lockdown look like for you?
Lockdown has been different for both of us. Jemima is currently on maternity leave with her new daughter and family and I spent some time at home in Northumerland with my family – it was a very full house so lots of fun but also quite loud. Then I came back to London to launch Tart at Home, our online shop and work on our reopening plans.
What has been the best thing you’ll look back on this time with fond memories of?
That extended period of time spent with family, which is often so hard to come by, especially when everyone is usually so busy.
What was the most challenging?
Navigating our way through this strange time. We only opened our doors towards the end of last year and so to have to close them so early on was a horrible thing to have to do.
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Jemima at home during lockdown.
Did you indulge in any of the typical lockdown clichés – Zoom calls or banana bread baking?
There were a few Zoom calls to manage matters for Wild by Tart and we do have a killer tahini banana bread recipe! As the designated cooks at home, a lot of time was spent in the kitchen.
How are you staying calm?
It’s made a huge difference to have re-opened with our pop-up, it’s allowed us to bring back more members of our team. Before it was pretty full on, but now with an amazing team, I feel I can take a step back once in a while.
I managed to get some me-time in too. When I was in Northumberland it was amazing to go riding over the hills – there’s nothing better to clear your head. That said, given I am getting married soon, I probably should have been doing more exercise!
Tart is all about Instagram-pretty but unpretentious dishes - the kind of food we all wished we could cook at home.
Let’s talk food. What have you been cooking?
The wonderful thing about this time of year is being outdoors, foraging and getting ingredients from the garden. We’ve been cooking outside a lot over the grills, BBQ and fire pit and this has really influenced our pop-up menu.
What was the best thing you ate during lockdown?
We took a trip to our local fishmonger and sadly the boats weren’t able to go out, but one fisherman had been out so we had two fresh crab with homemade aioli and crab bisque.
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You both love to grow produce – what have you been growing and eating?
Our pop-up is focusing on Tamworth pork from Jemima’s farm in Somerset and a big seller on our online shop has been honeycomb from our farm in Northumberland.
At home, we are both very lucky to have access to amazing produce so we used a lot of wild garlic, rhubarb, fresh peas.
Did you make any at-home cocktails?
Yes! We love a spicy margarita and lots of bellinis, using fresh pureed fruit topped up with Prosecco.
What did you watch, read or listen to to keep you sane?
The Third Plate by Dan Barber is fascinating. At the moment I’m reading American Dirt and before that, Where the Crawdads Sing, which I loved.
How did you spend the weekends in isolation?
On a Friday night at home with my family – we transformed our greenhouse into a pub. My brother was the bartender and we’d all spend our Friday evenings there.
What are the three things you will remember most about lockdown?
Long walks with my family in the countryside, having some time to cook for ourselves again rather than for work and overall having time to reset.
What are you most looking forward to once we come out the other side?
Seeing our space busy again, with the amazing atmosphere created by our customers and team.
Wild By Tart, 3-4 Eccleston Yards, Belgravia, London SW1W 9AZ