June 10, 2015
Geetie Singh’s Gastropub in London
Meet the UK's first organic gastropub owner...
After witnessing how much food goes to waste in the average commercial kitchen, Geetie Singh decided to combine her love for food and the environment and opened the Duke of Cambridge. It’s kind of a big deal, after all, it’s the UK’s first organic gastropub! Geetie hopes to bring organic food to her customers while educating them on the importance of sustainable living. Our UK editors, Hemsley + Hemsley chat with Geeetie below and later we share Geetie’s recipe for her amazing beetroot salad!
Hey Geetie! So tell us, how did you get started?
Having quit training to be a classical singer at age 19, I started working in restaurants, and quite soon I discovered how much I loved it much more than singing. I grew up in a commune that was politically driven and I was shocked by the lack of ethics in restaurants. I wanted to prove that a restaurant could be run sustainably and profitably: That food could be delicious and have a positive effect on the environment and society.
What was your first job?
Cleaning Victorian bricks for my Mom. She was single-handedly (other than me!) restoring our derelict home with reclaimed building materials. I also put up all the guttering and mixed wheelbarrows full of cement by hand!
Now that is manual labor with a capital M! Where are you speaking to us from, by the by?
Today I’m at home in Totnes looking out at the roof tops of the town
Lovely! So how would you describe what you do?
I’m a publican, landlady, restaurateur, and ethical entrepreneur
What’s your daily uniform:
People Tree, which is vintage or ethically produced clothes. Every penny we spend effects the planet and the lives of others. I don’t want to eat food that poisons the planet. I apply the same philosophy to clothes.
What do you swear by in the kitchen?
Chili. Any dish can be livened up with a good chili sauce!
Taste you can’t live without:
All things bitter. I just love bitter. Dandelion, radicchio, chicory.. I live on salad leaves too. But with some bitter.. then add a first press walnut oil and I’m in utter heaven.
If you could cook for anyone, who would you cook for?
I would cook for me! Isn’t that awful? I don’t like cooking that much, I love eating! Which was a BIG motive in wanting to own my own restaurant. Cooking for myself is always the best, because I can do it just how I like it—something with loads of chili and salad with bitter leaves and walnut dressing
Where is somewhere you are dying to go to?
Noma! And I’ll be going there for my honeymoon in a couple of weeks. And to the River Café for lunch with our best friends the day before our wedding. I also can’t wait for our wedding lunch: six courses of delicious food cooked by Benoit and the team at the Duke. It’s all about food..
Congratulations! Sounds like it’s going to be a delicious wedding! Name your top 5 meals:
1. The first time I ate salad dressed with walnut oil in France. I was in my early teens and I loved it so much I had it for pudding too.
2. A meal in the hills in Crete with my family. The boiled goat risotto. It was SO simple and incredible.
3. A chef who worked for me many years ago did the very best spaghetti vongole—I still dream of it
4. A lunch at a Agriturismo in Italy. Guy and I stumbled across it, they were serving a set lunch to a large booking. They squashed us in in a corner and gave us the same food. One simple veg dish after another. It was simply divine. And all the better for no pretense at all.
What is your motto?
If you don’t like it don’t eat it! And, never compromise on quality or ethics of food. Never waste food, buy less of it and eat better.
Photography by Nick Hooper