Food writer Rachel de Thample talks jam, Heston Blumenthal and the 'Bermuda Triangle' of Crystal Palace (From News Shopper)
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Food writer Rachel de Thample talks jam, Heston Blumenthal and the 'Bermuda Triangle' of Crystal Palace
Writer, forager and jam-maker Rachel de Thample has lived in Crystal Palace for eight years. She talks to HELOISE WOOD about cooking for Heston Blumenthal and how preserves are powering the next foodie revolution.
RACHEL de Thample is evangelical about food waste.
When she set herself a task to “grow” her own Christmas dinner, she realised how massive quantities are being thrown away.
It encouraged her to forage everywhere she could – including nearby estates – and help set up Crystal Palace Food Market in Haynes Lane along with other proactive residents.
She explains how she came to live south of the river and what drove her to rummage in neglected hedgerows.
The writer of More Veg, Less Meat says: “I trained as a broadcast journalist in Emerson College, Boston, and moved to London at 22 but it was hard to work in broadcast so I did some print work and ended up specialising in food.
“I decided to get some experience and so I worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Peter Gordon and Heston Blumenthal.
“In one of the kitchens, I was the only girl and the only one with a degree which made it difficult but being in Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen was magical. He has given me a lot of time and advice over the years.”
Rachel, who now writes for organic food delivery company Abel and Cole, reveals she was not keen on south London when she first moved to the city.
“After working as a chef, I wrote for Waitrose Food Illustrated and a colleague was due to review Joanna’s restaurant in Westow Hill.
“I had to go instead – I was living in Marylebone and I remember thinking, it’s so far away, I don’t want to get a train there.
“But when I got there and I saw the views and the great restaurants and the beautiful Victorian properties and we decided we wanted to live there.”
Since living in Crystal Palace, Rachel has grown more interested in sourcing local food.
The 37-year-old explains: “I decided to grow my own Christmas dinner and it was the most delicious meal I’ve ever had.
“It occurred to me there are all foods going to waste and I started foraging everywhere – even the estate opposite me has this amazing Oregan Grape.
“I started to realise how much food gets wasted so I helped form the Crystal Palace Market.
“I like the amazing community spirit here which you can see in the market and the village feel – people call it the Bermuda triangle because you don’t want to leave.”
Rachel has explored the sticky world of jam in her latest venture.
She says: “A few years ago I started asking my granny about her recipes.
“When we started selling the jams at the market, they sold out surprisingly quickly and people who bought them had to keep quiet because the demand was so strong.
"Now a range of nearby places stock them including Casa Cuba in Church Road and the Grape and Grain pub in Anerley Hill.
“In September we’re going to be doing actual ‘jamming’ sessions at the pub teaching people how to make preseves alongside the 16-piece jazz orchestra.
“I always thought jam-making was really complicated and was intimidated by it but it’s actually really easy – you just throw everything in.”
For more information, visit @dethample on Twitter.
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