Lauren Everet and Soup Kitchen London attempt for meals safety and social equality – The Upcoming

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Spotlight: Lauren Everet and Soup Kitchen London strive for food security and social equality

February 27, 2021

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With the aim of promoting a sustainable and diverse food industry, The Upcoming has launched a new series of Spotlights, a monthly feature that often gives room to unsung people who change things for hospitality.

Lauren Everet is the chef at Soup Kitchen London – a non-profit that is tackling the homeless crisis in London with food, clothing and mental health support. Their preeminent role has helped feed vulnerable people and even adjust the entire system to allow the global pandemic to continue. She oversees the culinary service with a team of volunteers at her charity on Tottenham Court Road. We spoke to the young cook about her journey on this project, the effects of Covid-19 and the importance of providing good food for everyone regardless of the circumstances.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Can you tell us about Soup Kitchen London, how it started and what it stands for?

Soup Kitchen London is an organization that has existed since 1986. We feed and clothe vulnerable and homeless people regardless of their background, no judgment or the like, and I am responsible for providing the food.

When did you join the project?

About a year and a half ago in January 2020.

You have worked in some of the best and most exclusive restaurants in London such as Core by Clare Smith and the Clove Club. What made you change the direction in your life?

I interned in these restaurants and previously worked as a private chef on superyachts. My training there consisted of expanding my repertoire: it was an incredible experience. After quitting sailing, I worked in a house here in London – again for high net worth individuals – and felt like I wanted to do something more meaningful. So I volunteered at the soup kitchen a couple of times and they had a cook job while I was between jobs. The rest is history!

Would you eat well again?

No, definitely not.

Massimo Bottura’s Food for Soul, one of the most famous soup kitchens in the world, is represented in London with Refettorio Felix at St. Cuthbert’s. Have you ever worked with them?

No, I never worked there but I have his book and I was very inspired by the idea of ​​using high quality products to serve food to people who would normally not have access to them. I think it’s very important to me regardless of income, class or background. I really like the idea that they serve a three course meal and I definitely took a leaf out of their book and am inspired by what it has inspired around the world.

Photos: Anna Cornish

Should gastronomy work more closely with soup kitchens?

I think the restaurant industry is having it as tough as it is, so it’s hard to tell what people to do, but we get people to help and send excess ingredients through partner charities.

What kind of training did you do as a chef?

I studied at the International Culinary Center in New York. I did a culinary arts program there, then learned a lot on the job, and I was self-taught. I studied sushi in Japan for three months and took courses “here and there” whenever I had free time: pastries, chocolate work … those were my formal training periods.

In gastronomy, we know that female chefs are a minority. Is that different in the world of soup kitchens?

This is the only soup kitchen I’ve worked in so I don’t know if I can answer this question, but I know that I’m one of the few women who worked in the kitchen there.

What do you think is the most important thing the government should do to support women and equality in this sector?

Personally, I think that education matters. I believe there are a lot of things that can be involved in changing people’s minds from a very young age. To instill a greater respect that everyone is the same regardless of race, gender, or anything. I think we are all responsible for helping each other be better people. It’s not just up to any particular person, organization, or government. We all have to rise!

Michelin has just announced two new restaurants with three Michelin stars (Hélène Darroze at The Connaught and Core by Clare Smith) – both run by women. What was your reaction

Yes! I find it amazing, but it’s sad that we have to celebrate the fact that women get stars for being incredible chefs regardless of their gender. But I think it’s unbelievable and the time has come: it shouldn’t have taken so long.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic that has had a devastating impact on the hospitality industry. How did this affect your job and the lives of the homeless?

We saw an increase in the number almost immediately, we were walking from around 80-100 people a day … I think 165 was actually our highest number. We weren’t prepared for this and also had to change the way we served and put in a take-away system overnight so we could enforce social distancing. We lost a lot of volunteers because people stayed home to follow the guidelines. So we went from a big team to a small team with more people and fewer resources. It was a bit hectic at first, but we’ve now resolved all of those issues.

Can you tell us the three highlights of your career as a chef? Maybe a reaction from someone you cooked for or a compliment from a chef who was especially important to you?

I’ve always had such great guests, and I think it’s very, very nice and thoughtful for your guests to be called and received applause. I won a cooking competition in 2018 and it showed me more than anyone that I did a good job. And some of our guests always pass on their thanks, they say that they can see that the food is made with love, made with love and served with love, and that has always stuck with me and was the best. If I can try to change someone who is having a tough day, that means the most to me too.

Where do you see Lauren’s future?

Definitely working for charity in the third sector. I hope I can raise funds to make a meaningful impact behind the scenes. Seeing firsthand what people need gives me a solid reputation for helping more in the future. It is very important to me to be able to provide food security where food banks and soup kitchens are no longer needed. Everyone should have access to good food across the board. I’m really excited about it, that’s my mission.

Thank you for speaking to me today

Ezelle Alblas

For more information, visit the Soup Kitchen London website here.