Quarantine Creatives: Callum Smith

Callum Smith

Always having a foot in the door with hospitality, Callum Smith is no stranger to how a good manager operates. From starting work in his early teens, Callum has an engrained work ethic which has transferred through to his whole working journey and into his own catering business. Early work in pubs in the north sparked Callum’s dream to one day owning and running his own pub or business.

From his cosy abode in Tooting, Callum’s northern charm was not a miss throughout our conversation. Born in York and raised in Leeds, Callum was educated in local schools and went to study Health, Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry at Leeds University. With healthcare and sport tunnelling through his education choices, his modules on nutrition sparked his desire to be involved in food and even had thoughts of becoming a dietician.

Being 1 of 6 growing up, Callum admitted he was quite a shy and not the “greatest waiter” in the world whilst working at his first pub job at The Whitehouse in Leeds. Following more and more exposure to different types of people and a chef who “looked after me”, Callum’s confidence continued to grow.

 “I was scared of the chefs!”

Indeed, Callum flipped his situation around and became an exemplary staff member, to the point where he recognised things weren’t quite right. As a young teen, Callum was only paid £3.48 an hour and was pretty much running the floor. He had his first taste of training other people and realised other staff members were being paid more than he was for doing less.  He decided to take it up with his managers and “made it so everyone was being paid the same”.

Following graduation at Leeds, Callum continued to keep his foot in the door within hospitality and fell in love with the industry. He became a supervisor of a restaurant in Towton and continued to move up the ranks as manger at The Beehive and then The Rockingham Arms. Gathering the skills and learning the ins and outs of hospitality by the age of 23 put Callum in good stead to eventually run his own business.

“I learnt from horrible managers how I don’t want to treat people”

After the umbrella company of the Beehive closed down, Callum was faced with an opportunity to work within that same pub, however, was bought by his partner’s family. Together (with his partner being a chef) they helped get the business off the ground and successful again and restored it with a new plan. From here Callum and his partner went travelling to the other side of the globe in New Zealand and Australia where he worked overseas within hospitality from September 2014- July 2015 when he returned to the UK.

During his time in New Zealand the conception of his brand, Fantail Catering and Management was inspired by the wildlife he’d encountered out there. On his return he went for a site operations job with Fortnum and Masons where he began his establishment as Fantail. Although it was one of the toughest jobs, he successfully ran one of the busiest lodges in Sommerset House in London. After his move to South London, Callum was inundated with jobs and has managed and catered for the Brits, Glastonbury and Wimbledon (just to name a few).

With sourcing his staff, Callum believes in his team getting full wages and being paid fairly for their time, which is why he doesn’t use agencies. Instead Callum looks out for staff when he visits his favourite coffee and food spots around London. Recognition of Callum’s success was what opened up a position or him at Levy UK, one of the biggest culinary champions in the UK.

With the current climate with Covid -19 it is no secret that extreme measures have been taken, including the Excel centre in London being turned into a hospital for over 4000 patients. Callum is on the team who now helps run site operation here and ensuring that NHS staff as well as patients are getting their food. With services like Callum’s being vital to not just weddings and monumental events, but to the running of operations with healthcare, it goes to show that with hard work and skill development you can be a part of something big.

“I’m experiencing things at a level that I never thought I would”

Travel Diary: Rajasthan, India

Travel Diary: Jaipur

With quarantine blanketing our daily lives, it seems a lifetime away since any holidays or trips. In the midst of Covid-19, a reflection of my trip to India is what seems to be taking over my mind and what better way to document that journey than to share it with you lovely lot.

Having not been to the motherland in over 10 years, my recent trip was my first visit back as an adult. Having travelled to Punjab and Rajasthan, I will be particularly reflecting on my time in Rajasthan, Jaipur. This was a trip with my parents and two aunties…

As we drove into Jaipur, I was under the impression that the ‘Pink City’ would not be so literally pink. It was magnificent! In the late 19th century, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur had the whole city painted pink in order to celebrate the arrival of Prince Albert. Every building and wall are still to this day maintained and thrives as a pink hub.

Our hotel was called the Golden Tulip. On arrival the entrance seemed grimy and I’m not going to lie I was a bit worried, however, once our driver passed through the car tunnel the actual hotel entrance was a calming contrast to the street on the other side (phew!). We were greeted by the politest staff and throughout the stay they were fantastic. The hospitality industry in India never fails to impress and the staff in Jaipur were no different- not many people would put up with the number of pictures I made these guys take of me!

CITY PALACE: hoping the Prince will stumble upon me being candid as hell

Our 4 days in Jaipur were overflowing in history and food and we were lucky enough to have a driver who bought the honesty of a true Punjabi to Jaipur. Following the 8-hour drive from Punjab to Jaipur, we went straight to the hotel restaurant which filled our bellies, ready for the epic sleep that would prepare us for the next day.

The overall feel of Jaipur magnified with each and every sight, from the historic buildings to the traditional jewellers that made you feel like you were in Jodha Akbar (which I actually visited the palace of- *squeals). We found a Hindi speaking tour guide – literally came up to us in the middle of the road – who showed us the beauts of Jaipur and thank god that one of my auntie’s had exceptional Hindi speaking skills – because I butcher that ish.

I did have the pleasure of going to an elephant sanctuary, however, on reflection I’m not sure how much of a sanctuary it was. I still let the tourist in me take over and went on a short elephant ride, but next time I would definitely ask more questions about the care of the animals.

The Top 5 sites that I would recommend in Jaipur, signed sealed and delivered by myself would be:

  1. Amber Palace – This old school architecture will seriously blow your socks off.  This palace was a military marvel as well as a representation of old Rajasthan.
  2. Hawa Mahal – Literally translates to Palace of Winds.  I would come here at night to see the many windows light up. Back in the day, princesses could sit in here and look at parades down below without people being able to look in (major stalker set up I reckon).
  3. City Palace – This is home to the royal family, even today, and is a chance for you to learn more about Rajasthani monarchy and India’s interactions with Britain at the time.
  4. Rajmahal Palace – this gorgeous palace was one of my favourites, and not just because Bollywood movies were filmed here… The intricate designs and grandeur of this foundation made me feel separated from the built up word outside. Like I was inside a story, cringe I know, but it’s true.
  5. Jal Mahal – This palace floats in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake and because of the rising water level is not yet open to the public. It is rumoured that renovation means that the public may soon be able to visit inside in the next few years. For our trip, we gazed at the structure from the river side. I saw Jal Mahal at sunset and it was amazing, next time I would go at night when the Mahal is lit up.

Jaipur is definitely a must if you’re visiting India, and was a great first trip for to the state of Rajasthan. Can’t wait to go back and explore the rest of the state and, indeed, even more of India.

If you dare to dream of a post Covid-19 holiday:

Golden Tulip Hotel: https://jaipur.goldentulip.com/en-us?arrival=2020-03-29T00:00:00&departure=2020-03-30T00:00:00&rooms[0][adult]=1&rooms[0][child]=0&location=

Wannabe Foodie #11:Beijing Dumpling, London Chinatown

When it comes to dumplings, peoples’ experiences can often be hit or miss, but with this little gem in Chinatown you will be satisfied with these hand made bundles of joy.

Beijing Dumpling will probably catch your eye as you stroll through Chinatown because of the queue that is often seen outside the door and the window display that beholds the churning out of fresh dumplings. Once you are inside you will be seated quickly and given a paper menu on which you tick off what you want to try. The turnaround in here is pretty quick, so perfect for casual dinner.

Pork Dumplings

We went in as a group of four and decided on getting a range of starters (so we could try as many dumplings as possible) rather than mains, so we could try different bits and pieces.  In terms of dumplings we went for spicy pork and pork xialongbao (soup dumplings), sea food dim sum platter, pan fried pork dumplings and spicy chicken dumplings in soup. We accompanied this with crispy duck pancakes, hot and sour soup and tom yum soup.

With a focus on the dumplings themselves I would definitely go for the spicy pork xialongbao. With a light steamed pastry, juicy pork filling and broth inside, this dumpling is an absolute delight. If you prefer milder food then go for just the pork xialongbao for the same dumpling minus the spice.


Alongside this pork delight, the pan fried options are also great, served on a plate rather than a steamer basket, these are great if you prefer a crispier outside. The chicken dumplings in soup, has a steamed outside and are served floating in a broth. For me the soup itself wasn’t really anything to rave about, but the dumplings themselves were yummy.

The other starters that we chose (the duck and soups), we lovely, but very standard. I would definitely pay Beijing Dumpling a visit if  dumplings are going to be the centre of your meal. Although I can’t attest to the rest of the mains on offer, I cannot stress how foolish it would be to not try the dumplings.

Considering the reasonable price range, you would be surprised that Beijing Dumpling has been awarded a Michelin Star. Coming in at around £8 for a basket of the more expensive dumplings, split between a group you will not leave hungry.

Paired with an ice cold green tea, this is great place to grab a bite to eat and leave feeling satisfied and your wallet not taking the heat.

Price: ££

Check it out:


Wannabe Foodie #10: You Me Sushi, Grays Inn Road

With sushi being a fresh summer favourite for a lot of foodies, You Me Sushi is an affordable alternative to eating in a restaurant.  They offer high quality selection boxes as well as the option to put your own together. I went into the Grays Inn road store, but there are also seven other stores around London and delivery is offered too.

I went for the Tokyo Roll Speciality Box, which came with edame beans, a piece of chicken tempura and the sushi roll. Sushi rolls typically have nori (seaweed wrap) on the outside and rice in the middle, but the Tokyo Roll has the rice on the exterior and a nori inside. The filling of this roll contains fresh salmon, spicy mayo, cucumber, avocado, flying fish roe and finely chopped chives. This sushi box came with a free side of miso soup and came to £7.95. It was delicious and definitely worth it!

In general I am not a huge fan of miso soup, so this was mostly left, but the sushi was fantastic. I tended to alternate my bites between the wasabi and soy as well as the side of pickled cabbage. It was fresh and filled me up (which was surprising). For those of you who enjoy miso soup, that’s a tasty little treat you can indulge in too!

Tokyo Roll

The lunchtime service at You Me Sushi was great, it was quick and the staff were very polite. This, coupled with the price tag, you can’t really complain.

Price: ££/£££££

Check it Out: 180 Grays Inn Rd, Holborn, London WC1X 8EW

Millenial Food Preferences: Damn you Avo on Toast

Millennial Food Preference  

1954 brought about the official end to food rationing in Britain. With the 15-year ban lifted on meat and sugar purchase restrictions, the nation seemingly spiralled into food evolution. Indeed, the contrast is extreme compared to the eating habits of millennials today, which supposedly is the reason why we can’t afford houses. Damn you avocado on toast.

The British food rationing period was an extremity that needed to happen as food supplies were often sabotaged, so resourcefulness was key. This was highlighted in meals that achieved sustenance, for example Welsh Rarebit and Rice Pudding, and made rations go further. This has railed into the complete opposite in 2019, where habitual eating habits would’ve been considered lux in the past. Cue the avocado on toast.

Millennials are marking their dominance in the work force and account for a quarter of global population, so it’s no wonder that our food consumption habits are trending around Millennial preferences and their consumer choices. These preferences are reflected in large food manufacturers, such as Aria Foods and Associated British Foods plc. From ingredient sourcing and more sustainable packaging, to alternative dairy and vegan options, the food market and variety are vast and ever trending.

Perisha Brunching Away

A primary concern of trending food is prominent in the realm of ingredient sourcing and where things come from. Following the establishment of Fair Trade by the World Fair Trade Organisation, it seems the nation has upped the ante when it comes to where their food comes from and this has become particularly apparent amongst millennials.

A trending example of this are alternative milks (in this instance to dairy), particularly when it comes to beverage consumption. Viral videos and social media sources have circulated information about where our food comes from and has now become synonymous with being healthy. With the case of milk, the treatment of cows and the negative effects of dairy (skin issues and potential weight gain) are often the reasoning behind millennials switching to an alternative milk. Oat, Almond and Soy milk are popular choices, particularly when paired with coffee and cereal. This upholds the variety and choices that we have and that millennials are even willing to pay more for them.

Sustainable packaging has also become a large part as to how millennials consume food. With British Youtubers, such as Grackle and ClickforTaz promoting ‘zero waste’ challenges highlight the importance of not using single use plastic and food waste in the UK. This is almost reflective of the attitudes held in the fifties when resourcefulness was a necessity.

The range of food that millennials are exposed to and associated with are down to a change in lifestyle and are vaster than ever. The International Food Information Council’s 2017 Food and Health survey identified that convenience is a primary factor when purchasing food with millennials. This aligns with the ‘avocado on toast’ trend that is often a backlash of millennial food choices, because the tendency is to spend more on this. We love to go out and enjoy food which is reflective of the convenience and contrasts with the limited choices that previous generations had. We are exposed to different types of food and our kitchen staples are ever growing.

 In summation, the food consumption patterns and choices amongst millennials today are not only more varied, but influenced by expanding food knowledge. It seems, millennials are exposed to more information than ever and can use this to make educated food choices as well as experimenting with foods.

Wannabe Foodie #7: Dishoom, Carnaby

Having never seen this spot without a waiting list, I had to give Dishoom’s delights a try. I decided to opt for the Carnaby branch and it was not a disappointment!

As there was a lunchtime waiting list, we headed to the bar to try some of the infamous bottomless House Chai (until 5pm). The flavours of spice blend and warmth of was a perfect way to save us from the rain outside. We were seated fairly quickly and were seated under the skylight, on the lounge sofas. This spot is great for a lunchtime catch up and if you don’t mind a relaxed eating area, this is perfect!

We decided to order a selection of things so we could share and try different things. We went for:

Far Far is a crispy snack, that has the texture of a prawn cracker and salty too. This a a great way to start off the meal if you’re starving because they come out so quick, but if I was to skip something off the menu it would definitely be this. Compared to the rest of the menu this is not the most exciting.

Chilli Cheese Toast is exactly what is says on the tin. Delicious, melted cheddar cheese on a thick slice of white bloomer with the kick of chilli. This was a delight and a no brainer for veggies!

Paneer Tikka, is, straight up, the way to show that you cannot have enough cheese. Paneer is a milk curd used a lot in Indian cooking. It bears resemblance to the texture of tofu, but with subtle flavour. At Dishoom it is marinated and charred and served with green peppers. Delight!

Okra Fries in the house!! Taking lady’s fingers and turning them into a deep fried delight. Truly a display of finger food and how Dishoom make vegetables amazing. Try these dipped in the selection of sauces and chutneys that they give you.

Gunpowder Potatoes, I think were my favourite in this veggie feast. Taking the humble potato and grilling them with seeds, spices and fresh herbs, this is a gem. I could eat a whole plate of this on it’s own, and the heat of the aloo (potato) goes well with cooling raita.

Pau Bhaji continues to showcase the versatility of the aloo and is true that carbs are the one! Pau Bhaji is a bowl of mashed, spiced veg served with a hot, buttery roll, homemade of course. Great accompaniment with tea and if you want to nip in for a quick snack.

Although, you might be questioning the absence of meat, this vegetarian feast was fabulous and, being a meat eater myself, I did not feel its absence. Indian food is renowned for it’s flavour and flair with simple ingredients and Dishoom elevates that!

The service here was fabulous! Not only were we constantly topped up on out bottomless chai, but we were always checked on. The waiter was great at explaining what each dish was and recommended complimentary dishes.

Price: ££

Check it out: http://www.dishoom.com/

Wannabe Foodie #4: Honest Burgers

Honest Burgers, on this particular day, was a life saver! I was starving and on the hunt for a good quality cure. I strolled into Honest Burgers whilst roaming the streets of Covent Garden and was more than pleasantly surprised.

Considering it was a Friday night, I was seated immediately, which was a bonus, and was greeted with a cozy walkway and friendly staff. Immediately the music put you at ease, playing remixes and reggae. Once we were seated we got started with drinks and the beauty about Honest Burger was the small, quality menu.

I went for the classic Honest Burger which came with Rosemary Fries. The burger consisted of a beef patty, red onion relish, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. This was served on a classic brioche bun. It was lovely. The patty was served medium rare and you can’t really go wrong with a burger and chips around the £10 mark.

Honest Burger with Rosemary Fries and a likkle bit of mayo

London which I’m sure will offer the same delightful experience.

Price: ££

Check it out here:  https://www.honestburgers.co.uk/

Wannabe Foodie #3: Brother’s Cafe

Leather Lane is abundant in  great food finds, so I decided to venture into Brothers Cafe which sits at the beginning of the street. There was no particular reason I was drawn to this place, aside from the fact that it had been recommended to me as a satisfying lunch spot.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with the food. I went for the small lamb wrap (and I’ve gotta say, it was not minuscule in any way) and a halloumi roll (halloumi wrapped in semi sweet pastry and deep fried). This all came to less than a fiver (take cash, unless you plan on spending more than that). Brothers also offers chicken, falafel, halloumi and salads too.

The Lamb Wrap was fab, served in a warm flatbread, the lamb was grilled on a skewer and served fresh after cooking. I had all the salad, hummus and chilli sauce to accompany my salad and I can confirm it was a good choice. Brothers offers a range of salad and you can choose exactly what you want. The halloumi roll on the other hand was good, but it was reheated in the microwave. The pastry was very similar to that of a samosa so goes a tad soggy when re heated in the microwave. I can imagine that straight out of the fryer, this side is an absolute delight!

Lamb and Salad Wrap

The shop front would not lead you to believe that the quality of wrap is as good as it is. It looks very old and the seating area is very basic. At the front of the cafe there is buffet of hot food and then at the front is where you can order your wraps. The service here seems very friendly as is very quick paced during lunch so try and have your payment ready to keep the line moving.

Don’t let the decor fool you, the wraps here are top notch!

Price: £

Check it out:

99 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7TS

Wannabe Foodie #2: Hakkasan

Wowwwiieeeeee. Ya girl went to Hakkasan.

As a group of three, we headed to the Hanway Place branch to get our dim sum on. There seems to be a recurring theme here, but I promise I do eat other foods!


Hakkasan is a contemporary Chinese restaurant and is not for those who are living the London broke life. However if you go before 18:30 you can enjoy a set menu for £38. So I guess that’s something… As we were going for dinner, we went for the after 18:30 menu that was £65 and we added extras on too. If you’re a total baller and going for A La Carte be prepared, as there are some dishes that you can pay up to 300 quid for.

With two London locations, Hakkasan offers contemporary Chinese cuisine. From delightful duck to stunning sea bass, Hakkasan provides the best Chinese flavors in a refined manner. I had the pleasure of dining in Hakkasan, Hanway PlaceT

Our meal began with a Dim Sum selection and this was delicious. With a prawn and chive filling, scallop and pork and prawn these mouthfuls were delightful. Following this I had a starter of hot and sour soup and chicken and sweetcorn. Hot and Sour was Peng! The chicken and sweetcorn seem pretty standard to me, you could probably pick this up for a fraction of the price in Chinatown and it would be fine.


For my main, I had Spicy Prawns (with lilly bulb and almond), Peking Duck and Pancake, Sweet and Sour Pork and this was accompanied by rice and noodles. In comparison to the starters that we tried, the mains did disappoint. Although they were still tasty, next time I would happily exchange my main dishes with more dim sum or another starter. The meat was tender, however the noodles tasted like something I could probably remodel at home.

Finally, the dessert offered a different take on Asian desserts. Until my visit to Hakkasan I have never been impressed with Chinese desserts. We ended the meal with the Matcha Apple Custard Bun and the Jivara Bomb (milk chocolate and praline desert). These were a delight, they were not too rich and encompassed eastern flavours with a subtle sweetness. The Matcha bun requires an acquired taste, but I loved it. The pastry was lovely, and if you like green tea this will be a delight.


So the food ranged from delicious to standard, but I must say the service was notably mediocre. Considering the price tag of eating here, you would expect the service to be on point. Because of this we decided to remove the service charge ( which I don’t often do) and this caused all sorts of drama which cemented why we took it off in the first place.

Hakkasan is definitely worth going to and is perfect for a special occasion or date night as the atmosphere welcomes occasion, but better service would have made me more tempted to come back here. There are more places around London where you could have equally tasty dim sum.

TIP: Don’t over order (as there is no option to take away any remaining food). Order as and how you want more food. They bring it out quite quick and it’s better than wasting money.

Wannabe Foodie #1: London Cookery School

I love food and I’m sure people with a hearty soul do as well. It brings memories to people and brings them together. I myself try to eat as much food as I can as much and as many different types. I just wish I could cook as good as I eat!

This year, I had the privilege of being taken to learn to make Dim Sum and it was fantastic! I went to the London Cookery School in Holborn in London.

With Dim Sum being one of my ultimate go tos, what better way to indulge in these bite size delights than learning how to make them. With Chef Will at the helm, the class got to work.

Dim Sum translates as small heart, which refers to the bite size nature of these Chinese delights. From light fried pastries to steamed dumplings, dim sum is (as referred to in class) in a way Chinese Tapas. The techniques used to make dim sum have been around forever!

I attended this class on a rainy April morning, and I hadn’t even waltzed in yet and I was already starving! I walked into the class and was greeted with a selection of Chinese teas, including Oolong and Green, alongside a recipe booklet. This was a great way to ease you into the class and get you ready for lunchtime.

Once the class was settled, with their tea, Chef told us about the type of dumplings we were going to be making and the etiquette of dim sum. The dim sum we were making were steamed, but there are of course fried ones too. Chef proceeded to demonstrate each dumpling and then we weighed out our ingredients and got to work.

We were taught how to make three dim sum:

Pork Sui Mai: Open top pork dumplings

Har Gow (prawn dumplings)

Chiu Chow Fun Gwor (Steamed dumplings)

Once we had gone through each recipe, they were steamed and we could dig in! We were given chopsticks, dipping vinegar and soy sauce. As it happens, dim sum are not actually supposed to be eaten with soy sauce as the Chinese believe that each individual ingredient should be tasted for what it is. This style resonates throughout Chinese cooking, particularly with dim sum, the natural flavours of the meats and veg is what shines through! If you notice, it is not the done thing to cover Chinese food in lashings and lashings of sauce.

I’m trying!

Overall I would highly rate this experience, and Chef was fantastic. Not only did he show us step by step demonstration, but he came round and offered solo help to let us know we were doing OK. Chef highlighted the best accompaniments, dim sum eateries and facts about Chinese cooking as we went along.  He was personable and a great teacher!

Check it out: