Over 350 years, London’s Old Spitalfields Market has gone from being a fruit, veg and produce wholesaler to a famous, open seven-days-a-week, covered market in a Grade II listed building with a wealth of restaurants, shops selling antiques to eyewear and an arts and crafts market.
Retaining its old charm, the market in Tower Hamlets is also a champion of great street food. Even businesses that have become tourist attractions in themselves, however, must evolve.
Teaming up with Ten Ten, a creative venture between Taberna do Mercado founder Nuno Mendes and hospitality expert Stephen Macintosh, the mission was on to create a high-end street food offering that complemented, not detracted from, the existing traders on-site.
Designed by Foster+Partners, the result was The Kitchens, a distinctive hub of 10 units selling everything from Laowai and Swedish fare to nose-to-tail comfort food and to-die-for desserts.
Handpicked by Nuno and Stephen, each trader within the hub is, crucially, an East London chef restaurateur, the line-up comprising Berber & Q, Breddos Tacos, Flank, Monty’s Deli, Yum Bun, Sood Family, Jaiba, Thousand Knives, Dumpling Shack and Happy Endings.
One challenge with the hub was sourcing equipment that was ultra-compact to maximise space in the four 11.25m2 corner units and six 9.85m2 units. With dinky dimensions of just 55cm wide, but offering exceptional capacity, the SpaceCombi MagicPilot – 6 x 2/3 GN Junior model – from MKN was the oven of choice for Hallmark Kitchens, which fitted out the hub.
Featuring MKN’s MagicPilot touch screen and chemical-free WaveClean automatic cleaning system, the energy-saving SpaceCombi is a highly flexible combination oven for manual and automatic cooking, arming chefs with a choice of functions with convection and pressureless fresh steam, either separately, one after the other or combined with moist or dry heat.
“The oven is very flexible, quick and easy to use,” said Miguel Cordova, chef de partie at Thousand Knives, which sells Japanese small plates. “We use it for making our hot and spicy ramen and miso soup, roasting chicken bones for our yakitori tare sauce, cooking marinated pork shoulder and vegetables for our spring rolls and warming through sushi steamed rolls.”
At the other end of the spectrum, retro desserts aficionado Happy Endings uses the combi to make madeleines, fondant tarts using dry heat and steamed chocolate puddings. “I haven’t used all the features yet, but it’s a very good piece of equipment,” said chef Mark Sole.