Around the kitchen table with Kate Pumphrey,
founder of The Hot Breakfast
Kate is a corporate lawyer, who quit the world of City law after deciding that her life could be better lived! She set up the Hot Breakfast at the end of 2013 with the intention of "inspiring and encouraging people in what they do" by bringing small groups of like-minded Londoners together over a big, hearty, wholesome breakfast for informal conversation and the exchange of ideas.
The premise behind the Hot Breakfast is that everyone can change the world provided they have the moral support and motivation to do so, and the organisation seeks to evoke that spirit. The Hot Breakfast was partly inspired by the rich, animated conversations that Kate had with her father, which always left her feeling invigorated and enthused. Kate also felt that there was a market for people to forge new friendships and business relationships based on their shared interests and passions and that it was also useful to have a safe forum in which to discuss challenges and opportunities and learn from others' experiences - not to mention eat a delicious breakfast!
The Hot Breakfast currently runs as a pop-up from Kate's home in Battersea, but is being rolled out across the capital using central London restaurants, cafes and members' clubs as venues.
What makes a great Hot Breakfast?
A great Hot Breakfast is one that is full of rich, entertaining and perhaps surprising conversation, where I feel that people have been left buzzing and inspired! It's really therefore all about the interactions between the guests - and the trick is to induce the best interactions possible. That's where the menu and set-up comes in: a beautiful table, comfortable surroundings and delicious food will help to get people relaxed and happy, which in turn will hopefully bring out the best in them.
How would you sum up your typical Hot Breakfast?
There's no typical Hot Breakfast in terms of people, as so many different characters come along each week: artists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, designers, writers, musicians, scientists, meditation gurus - you name it: they've been!
Food-wise I try to keep things seasonal and to support local businesses as much as possible. There are normally three courses. The first comprises people helping themselves to big bowls of homemade granola, fruit salad, yoghurt and (in winter) pinhead porridge. The second course is more elaborate: perhaps a shakshuka, or poached eggs with rosti and smoked salmon, or blueberry and banana pancakes, or kedgeree - it depends on the time of year and the guests' dietary requirements. And to end there is usually something sweet, like a banana bread or fruity scones. Needless to say there is plenty of tea (Jade Tips and Ceylon from Good & Proper Tea) and top-notch organic coffee.
What style do you like to go for when hosting?
It's always very informal and relaxed as that's my style and I want people to feel like they can open up. People come dressed in whatever they need to wear for the next stage in their day, whether that's a suit, jeans or their cycling gear - anything goes and I've noticed that the more variety in dress there is around the table, the better the breakfast tends to be! It's always good to introduce people to those they wouldn't normally encounter.
What would be the first thing you’d do when preparing for a Hot Breakfast?
The first step in any Hot Breakfast is always to prepare a list of people to be invited, which is drawn from those who have registered for the Hot Breakfast (registration form available via the website). A maximum of eight people is invited to each event, and I always try to ensure that guests are introduced to new people each time they come and - critically - that those attending share similar interests and passions, albeit with differing perspectives and backgrounds.
Is there a best dinner party menu you like to use?
I love to experiment but you always need something safe and reliable too! That's why the first course is nearly always the same: it's tried and tested, and I can sleep easy the night before, knowing that even if the second course is a disaster, people will at least have had something edible! There are also certain things that I can't make because I don't want to spend too long in the kitchen away from the table, as it's my responsibility to be there as a host. So I can't scramble eggs, for example, or do anything that requires a lot of fiddly, last-minute preparation. Ottolenghi, Bill Granger and the Green Kitchen all have great breakfast recipes.
Is there a magic number around how many guests to invite?
I limit each table to eight people, as it's small enough to hold a group discussion and for everyone to have an opportunity to talk about what they get up to. And I deliberately try to ensure that people are meeting new folk because that's where the magic lies: in sparking new thinking and ideas.
What would be your 3 top tips?
- As ever with hosting, be militarily organised! I order and buy food several days in advance, lay the table two evenings ahead of any breakfast, and cook the bulk of the food the night before, all of which helps to stagger the workload and takes the stress out of entertaining.
- Small details, such as clear placements (I write people's names in chalk on the slate tableware), can help guests feel secure and relaxed. A carefully laid table also makes people realise the effort that has gone into each event, which in turn encourages them to contribute and value the event.
- In a homemade granola, pecans are your friend and walnuts the foe! Life-changing tip, that one.
by: Kate Pumphrey @thehotbreakfast