London's food scene has a talent for turning disused and under-appreciated spaces into something special. Whether it's like Flat Iron Square (a desolate space under some railway archways that's been transformed into a new drinking and dining destination) or a diverse market like Pop Brixton (known to you and I as a trendy stack of shipping containers in a once-derelict car park, but known to the Lambeth Council as the food market and business incubator that generated a handsome £9m for the local economy in 2016 alone) these clever lot really have a knack for it. And now one once-rundown arcade-turned-buzzing culinary hub is taking things a step further.
Last month Brixton Village announced the launch of Brixton Kitchen, a programme designed to find the next big name in food. The competition is set to offer two lucky winners the chance to take on a six-month residency in Brixton Market. It's open to both amateurs and experienced entrepreneurs who have the passion and drive to succeed.
But here's the best bit: the shortlisted entrants will get to present their pitches to some of the biggest names in London food. The judging panel counts James Cochran, this year's Great British Menu 'Champion of Champions' and co-founder of Islington's 1251; acclaimed restaurateur and St Leonards chef Jackson Boxer; and Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes, the East London baker who made headlines last year for making Harry and Meghan Royal Wedding cake.
It's a pretty impressive line-up for a pretty impressive concept. And as exciting as all the big-name restaurants coming in from overseas are, you really can't fault an initiative that's designed to keep money in the local community by fostering home-grown talent and championing culinary creatives. I for one can't wait to see who comes out on top. If they're anything like their soon-to-be neighbours, it's worth getting excited about.
The deadline for entries is 17 February 2019. For more information, visit brixton-kitchen.com