The third Friday of every month sees a cooking demonstration stall on Portobello Road, with cooks making delicious meals from ingredients bought at the market. Here & Now caught up with Robert Clarke, one of the demonstrators, to see what’s on the menu.
Opposite the pedestrian area where Tavistock Road meets Portobello Road, there is a handsome Victorian building featuring two distinctive arches at street level. Today it’s home to a penny arcade, but rewind a few decades and these arches were entrances for the Isaac Newton School for Boys.
“I grew up round here, on Acklam Road,” says Robert, “and now I find myself giving cooking demonstrations not 20 yards away from where I went to school. I’m properly born and bred here, I love the area.” It’s a small world but a long journey for Robert; after growing up in Portobello, he worked as a blocksman at Billingsgate fish market for a while before, inspired by his grandfather’s stories about India, he set off for the subcontinent.
He spent three years working his way around India, and it’s clearly a country that resonates with him still. It was on his return to London that he first catered for a large number of people, setting up and running a canteen for BAA workers at Heathrow, and it was here that he honed his skills for making wholesome, healthy, inexpensive food.
Now back living in the area, Robert uses these skills to give cooking demonstrations as part of the Road Food initiative. “It’s simple, tasty stuff,” he says. “Dishes like seafood chowder, sheared beef noodle, spicy Italian meatballs – food that’s delicious, good for you and doesn’t cost the Earth to make.”
Robert will be cooking at the ‘Road Food’ stall on Portobello Road (outside Office shoe shop) on Good Friday (18 April).