Meet the Makers: George Williams

When lockdown hit, George Williams @fedbygeorge had just landed his dream job working at one of London’s top Michelin-starred restaurants – River Cafe. But like most this past year, he was confined to his flat with every desire to cook but no mouths to feed. 
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A few posts on Instagram later, he was setting off in his tiny Toyota with his flatmates delivering brown bags full of homemade goodies to friends and family in isolation. What started in George’s flat as a self-funded free service to a handful of people quickly became a London-wide delivery service with over 1000 people receiving a food parcel. With time, George was able to use all proceeds to feed the frontline workers. A cause that is near and dear to his family.

We sat down with George to discuss how this amazing initiative has impacted his life and style of cooking.

What inspired you to become a chef?
From a young age, I had always been obsessed with food (particularly the eating part) and often said I wanted to be a chef when I grew up. But after going through school and university there seemed to be a more corporate path laid out for me. I pursued a career in digital marketing for a few years – there were many enjoyable things about it but I never felt totally fulfilled… so I took quite a big leap and decided to go to cookery school, and started all over again. I didn’t have much of a plan but I just knew that food was something that made me happy and that I could spend hours on effortlessly. Ever since taking the leap, it’s just felt more and more like the right decision and I’ve become totally consumed by the kitchen environment. 

What is your favourite restaurant in London and why?
NOT including where I work..?!

– Trishna for curry
– Bright, for an East London spot, where every bite is delicious
– Al Boccon Di Vino for family-owned and authentic
– Roganic for Michelin modern British food at its beautiful best
– Marksman for a Sunday roast 

What is the end goal as a chef?
Currently, I’m still very new to it so I’m just focusing on learning as much as possible but I hope I’ll be able to cook for more and more and more people, and much more of the time (but mostly for them to like it…)

If there was one restaurant in the world that you would like to work for, which restaurant would it be?
I LOVE where I’m working now but if I had to move somewhere in the UK I’d love to work under Simon Rogan at L’enclume or Gareth Ward at Ynyshir. It would be amazing to be out of London in a more rural setting at a destination restaurant.

What is your favourite style of cooking and why?
I consider myself an eater first and foremost, before thinking of myself as a chef or cook. So whenever I cook I’m always imagining the experience people are having while eating. I think the Italian way of eating just can’t be beaten. It’s based on generosity and making the best out of wonderful ingredients.

What is your go-to midweek supper recipe?
I change what I eat in the week a lot because shifts at work are unpredictable and you’re often snacking hard throughout service. The one thing I find that always hits the spot for me is kimchi. It’s a great thing to have in the fridge to throw on some rice, in a salad or even have with eggs. It’s delicious, good for you, and also provides a welcome contrast to the kilos of pasta I consume at work. (Full recipe below)

If you could offer one cooking tip – what would that be?
TASTE EVERYTHING. I once attended a spice masterclass where we spent about an hour tasting spices – everything from cinnamon to chilli powder to mustard seeds – we had them dry, toasted, whole, crushed, fresh, aged. Definitely a weird experience but it opened my eyes to how important tasting is. Every time you taste you’re not just making sure your dish is right and is well seasoned you’re improving your palate, getting to know specific ingredients and understanding how flavours can change over time when different cooking methods are applied to them.

What is your favourite cookbook and why?
My copy of Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian cooking is the most stained and battered on the shelf for sure- probably first on the list in the culinary canon. Beyond that, “The Indian Cookery Course” by Monisha Bharadwaj is totally brilliant – perfect recipes with great historical and anecdotal context.

Fed by George has been such a success over the past year – how has that impacted your life?
I’m not sure really! It has been pretty wild. Started off delivering a few food bags to friends and family and a year later was feeding hundreds of people a week while managing a team of chefs and drivers. So in terms of a learning experience, it was amazing, and I got to work with and meet so many amazing people along the way. I guess going forward I can take the confidence that it was the right decision to become a chef..!

 

Fed by George Kimchi recipe:

Kimchi is definitely one of my desert island foods. It totally transforms the blandest of meals while doing wonders for your gut. The only drawback to kimchi is how hilariously expensive it is in supermarkets…so here’s a recipe to make your own:

Ingredients

1 large jar (around 5l)

Large container for brining

2kg Chinese leaf cabbage

200g salt

125-175g Gochugaru – Korean chilli powder. Add more or less depending on your spice taste.

200g spring onions

20 cloves of garlic

50g ginger

75ml fish sauce

125ml tbsp soy sauce

Method

  1. Cut your Chinese cabbages into quarters and put them cut side up into your large container.
  2. Cover the cabbages in salt (it seems like a lot but trust me) then fill the container with water so that the cabbages are completely submerged. Leave overnight. This brining process is essential for flavour and tenderness.
  3. After your cabbages have sat in the brine for 24 hours, blitz all remaining ingredients together and let them sit for 30 mins.) Drain the cabbage, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and pat dry.
  4. Now for the messy part, you want to take each quarter of cabbage one by one and cover it as thoroughly as possible in the paste. Get it right up in all those nooks and crannies. Then roll it up into a ball and squeeze it down to the bottom of the jar. Repeat this with all cabbage quarters, every time pushing the cabbage hard into the jar to make sure there are no air pockets.
  5. Once all cabbage is in, put a small jar or something similar on the top of it and apply downward pressure. It should be difficult to close the lid as you want as little air as possible to encourage fermentation.
  6. And now you wait, keeping the jar at room temperature. The kimchi will be great after 10 days but feel free to tuck in earlier. At this point transfer it to the fridge. Expect a gassy jar that may expel smell and liquid so store appropriately.
  7. Slice for serving or putting in smaller jars. Ideally don’t cut all up at once as it stores better whole.

Website – www.getfedby.com
Instagram – @fedbygeorge

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