The borough is famous for its independent traders, so we took a trip to Chapel Market to meet the faces behind your lunch.
Shanti Gimenez, owner of Real Paella, is originally from Murcia in Spain and is passionate about pork. “The paella from my home town has pork-loin and pork sausage in it. Similar to chorizo but the taste isn’t quite as strong.”
Smokin’ Aces serves authentic Deep South American barbecue, and owner Toby has run the business for two-and-a-half years. “It’s non-stop work. I cook all night then get up at 7 to smoke the BBQ. Mornings are quiet, then the office lunch break means about 150 lunches in two-and-a-half hours.”
The Little Viet Kitchen is the market version of the restaurant that opened on Chapel Market in 2015. Owner, Thuy, and her husband sold their house to open it. “One day I was sitting on the train, tired and miserable. I don’t think I loved my job enough. I just wanted to cook.” Her mum is her biggest culinary inspiration. “It’s very inspiring to watch her show her love through food. When I eat these dishes I feel like my whole family is here.”
Arnulfo, of Pintas Mexican Food, is more of a smiler than a talker. The best thing about his five months in Chapel Market is the other stall-holders. “They’re very fun” he says, chuckling.
“There’s never a dull day,” says Amber, who runs the King Spud baked potato stand, owned by her uncle. “Everyone always gets along, never any arguments…well almost.” She’s only been here for three weeks but her funniest moment to date was when Shanti from Real Paella came into work but forgot his rice…he had to close for the day.
Image credit: Bill Boaden