Issue 34

Launching Issue 34 at Quo Vadis

Launching the food issue with an evening in Soho

All Photography SAM SIMPSON

It was a delight to launch Port’s food issue on Wednesday night with friends and contributors at Quo Vadis with this issue’s guest editor, Jeremy Lee. Thanks to Engine gin and Penfolds for refreshments, and to Sam Simpson for wonderful photography. This feast of an issue features four more cover stars – Hari Nef, Ke Huy Quan, Brian Cox and Ben Whishaw, as well as reporting from the world of oranges, oysters, cutlery and so much more.

In case you haven’t had a chance to look inside the issue, we’ll leave it to Jeremy to give you a taste.

There is a rich history of food in magazines and journals stretching back to a time when newspapers only offered cooking tips and recipes in small inserts, and good house keeping was the lot of the housewife. How things have changed.


Often found in old books are snippings of cherished recipes, hidden to be found again by cooks such as this one, when turning the pages of Mum’s cookery books, or a fair few bought secondhand.

So, when asked to guest-edit an issue of Port dedicated to food, I wondered what a cook might bring to a journal. I found that, by curious chance, I could look up at the shelves over my desk – in the eaves of Quo Vadis, by a window overlooking the rooftops of Soho – and draw on not just books old and new but much else gathered over time. Sticking out of books were gems, like those pioneering articles in Vogue by Elizabeth David, who wove travel, photography and food onto the page, paving a mighty path, inspiring new generations.


There was a wealth of writing, photography and illustration such as those of John Broadley that adorn our menus and those of Brian Ma Siy that illuminated the seminal menus at Alastair Little, just round the corner, where I had cooked so long ago.


First off there had to be lunch, laughter and chat and that with Fergus and Margot Henderson, dear friends who were at the forefront of bringing British food and cooking centre stage. Rochelle Canteen is an idyll in east London, set in the playground of a school always planted and tended beautifully. Founded by Margot and Melanie Arnold, not far from St John where Fergus garnered great acclaim for nose-to-tail eating, the canteen is a family affair. Hector Henderson (Fergus and Margot’s son) is in the kitchen cooking alongside his best friend Jake Farley, both of whom have cooked at Quo Vadis, and they set forth a cracking lunch.


On being asked who was joining them in the issue, we reminisced on the last time Port had dedicated an issue to food – when Fergus was guest editor, with a remarkable portrait of the back of his head gracing the cover. I remember the excitement still.


Mention was made of talking with Hato Press about food and film, of visiting Corin Mellor at the factory built in Sheffield by his dad, David. Being at home sifting through pots, bowls, cupboards and a few pestle and mortars. Talking with Joké Bakare, who had cooked a dinner at QV prior to opening her tremendous restaurant. There was breakfast in Bethnal Green at E Pellicci’s with Ray Winstone, both of whom need no introduction, and further afield, the food culture of Seoul discussed by Katie Chung, creative director of MCM. A visit to venerable and beloved Sweetings in the City of London, famed for, among much, a silver tankard of black velvet, made with Guinness and champagne. There is a perusing of the art on the walls of George in Mayfair, then wandering down the road to visit Ollie Dabbous at Hide on Piccadilly.

Food and cooking feed a fundamental need – not just of necessity, but also to please – and so it is unsurprising, really, to find food appearing in art, in film, theatre, in books, newspapers and of course, in a magazine. Talk over lunch continues amid laughter and wine and leads to mention of fashion, food and cooking, art, photography, the curious business of artlessness and style in what we prepare, wear, see and choose to look at, read, watch and take inspiration from. A great adventure.


‘Tis a very great joy and a very great honour to be here talking with you, and I hope you enjoy this issue of Port as much as I enjoyed wearing an editor cap for the first time.

Port issue 34 is out now. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here