Can you tell us more about how Hackney Essentials was born during the Pandemic?
We opened Hackney Essentials spontaneously the day of the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020 in my partner Emrah’s former pub in Hackney. With a busy pub kitchen, he already had an incredible network of suppliers for fruit and vegetables, for eggs, for good quality bread, so we decided to set up a temporary essential food supplies store, hence our name, Hackney Essentials.
During that period, Hackney Essentials was accessed by people who wanted to shop in their neighbourhood, who couldn’t get a supermarket slot, or who were isolating and needed their food delivered locally. Friends who suddenly found themselves out of work acted as delivery drivers.
Through the shop, we were also able to support small producers who had also had their businesses derailed. We stocked Howl coffee, Today Bread, London Borough of Jam and many other incredible East London small producers.
Our initial relationships with local producers sowed the seeds for the ethos of working with small, local brands that we continue today, along with introducing high quality and ethically produced products from around the world. We certainly can’t claim to sell only essentials these days, but we are very fond of our name.
What are your kitchen essentials?
What we stock in the shop echoes what we have in our home. I love beautiful objects but they have to be functional. Staples at home include Leach pottery prepping bowls, Dor and Tan mugs and beakers, and the aprons and tea towels we produce in East London under our own brand. A food essential would be one of the range of sauces we stock by brands such as Nina Parker’s Saucy, they can elevate even the simplest dish.
Do you have a favourite Falcon product that you stock?
The most popular Falcon product with customers is the three pint jug. They come in great colours and are versatile in use. Personally, I like the tumblers and mini tumblers. Easily transportable, we take them on picnics and use them for wine or cocktails.
What do you love most about London in the Winter time?
The other day I was standing by the shop on Columbia Road. It was bright and crisp and every single cyclist that wheeled past me had a big grin on their face. I could see how much they were enjoying the city. It’s moments like that that I love London the most.
I also love Christmas Wednesdays on Columbia Road: four evenings of collective carol singing led by the local vicar stood atop a piano on wheels, mulled wine, and as the night wears on, a descent into general chaos.
Are there any local companies you'd like to shoutabout? Where do you usually eat, drink, and source ingredients in your local area?
We have a lovely community in and around Columbia Road, and lots of solidarity and support between businesses. I love Colenimo clothing design studio and shop, Grace & Thorne for flowers, and the weekend vintage market stalls where we pick up Sheffield steel cutlery. Campania is a great southern Italian restaurant on nearby Ezra Street, and for his legendary pistachio crema-filled croissants we go to Mauro’s Speciality Cafetiere on Hackney Road.