craved | david voxlin
Words by Fiona Symington. Photos courtesy of Craved.
The idea behind Craved is a simple one: an online marketplace retailing London’s small batch food and drink. Since launching in June 2014, founder David Voxlin has brought together some of London’s best producers from England Preserves through to relative newcomers Anspach & Hobday.
Proudly showcasing small batch produce, Craved is as much a statement about London as a food city as Voxlin’s own ingenuity. With a vision to create a “hub of exploration and discovery”, Craved offers a way to buy local produce online as well as learn more about what’s new in London. It was our great pleasure to talk to David Voxlin. We were inspired by his commitment to small batch producers and creating connections between the food we eat and those that make it. By the end of our interview, we were craving for more.
What’s the story behind Craved?
London food is fantastic but it is getting more and more local, more experiential and more fragmented. So Craved is designed to support these producers using online distribution to promote a connection with local food and the people who make it. We have already seen GrubHub and London Pop-ups as online platforms for sharing information, but on a distribution level, I found there wasn’t really anything that allowed me to discover and access everything made in the city. Craved was created to fill that gap.
You feature a unique mix of producers from Amelia Rope to Cobble Lane Cured. How did you select them?
First of all I have done a lot of tasting! I’ve selected producers who are passionate and committed to the quality of what they produce. All of them are small business owners who source ingredients responsibly and are finding new and innovative ways to reinvent food traditions. A lot of them are in their twenties like me and have never had a traditional job. Anspach & Hobday are probably the youngest producers that I deal with and one of the newest. They opened their doors in April this year near Maltby Street. There’s also Ed and Robyn at Square Root London in Hackney who with a business loan have set up a small batch soft drink company.
Is there something distinctly London about these producers or is it simply geography?
Beer and gin are the most representative of the connection these producers have to London. So for example, JensenGin has brought back the old tom gin and Anspach & Hobday, smoked brown ale. Both are based on old London recipes. But what is even more important to me is that everyone I work with reflects what London is today in an unashamed way — it is a global city. It is a mix of all different cultures and it is a hub of innovation. Nearly all of my producers are small business owners and entrepreneurs and they are making products that are competing with the world’s best.
In the time that you have lived in London how has it changed as a food city?
As a food city, things have become more local, smaller and more experimental. And what’s really great about that is there are new communities growing around these producers. One of the producers that I work with is Crate Breweryin Hackney Wick. When they started their brewery, there was very little in the area, now it has a really strong local community around it. The down side of this fragmentation is that it is difficult to know what is on offer. I still find new things every day.
Why is supporting small batch and local producers important to London as a city?
What is really important to me is having a relationship with the person that made the food, the way that it was made, what’s in it. It’s not a naïve ideal – I do not believe that London is ever going to be self-sufficient. It is rather that food is an excellent way of bringing people together and is such a successful way of growing communities. Phillip fromWildes Cheeses was saying the other day that there are now two local markets in Tottenham, which is completely different from where they were two years ago when the London riots occurred.
My London food secret
One of my favourite discoveries in the last six months or so is London Borough of Jam, Lillie O’Brien’s shop off Chatsworth Road. Her jams vary week to week depending on the season and what she is able to source. She also features local Hackney producers in her shop which is a concept close to what I am pursuing with Craved.
Perfect day out in London
I love Spa Terminus and Maltby Street. So I’d start my day with a coffee at Coleman Coffee Roasters and a pastry from The Little Bread Pedlar before walking to Maltby Street stopping at Monty’s Deli for a Reuben sandwich. I’d then continue along Southbank through the Borough Market area before dropping in at the Tate Modern. That’s as good as it gets in terms of a Saturday in London.
My UK food hero
Keith Floyd for his nonsense approach to food. I was really inspired by him as a teenage boy growing up in Sweden. I think he has made some of the best food television. I’m currently re-watching one of his earlier series in France. It has aged in certain ways but his passion for discovering new things still inspires me.
You can order from Craved here as well as follow it on Twitter. Craved offers same day delivery across London.
Fiona Symington-Mitchell is an Australian freelance writer living in London. She has published with Modern Farmer, Remedy Quarterly, Countlan magazine, Food& and de Groot Media Australia across its food guide publications.