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Innovative cooking academy inspired by Nuno Mendes set to launch in basement of Old Street office block

PUBLISHED: 12:08 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 11 October 2017

Nuno Mendes. Picture: Jamie Orlando Smith

Nuno Mendes. Picture: Jamie Orlando Smith

Archant

A cooking academy inspired by an innovative Portuguese chef is set to be launched in Old Street.

The basement of the White Collar Factory – an office building near the Old Street roundabout – is going to be transformed into a bustling marketplace of food stalls, training kitchens, small restaurants and even a 30-seater “taster room” for emerging chefs to master their craft and gain a footing in an increasingly competitive culinary world.

Inspiration comes from Nuno Mendes, head chef at celebrity hangout the Chiltern Firehouse, who was involved in the planning stages of the scheme.

Mendes is known for his banquet-style cuisine and penchant for tasting menus and street food.

The operators of the Old Street venture, The Long Table, want to replicate his methods by cooking on a grander scale, but with a heavy emphasis on training up young chefs.

In partnership with Islington Council, which will be providing its “iWork for business” recruitment service, there will be almost 100 full-time employment opportunities provided on site, as well as 74 chef positions available – they will be tasked with working towards cooking and serving their food at one of the 17 food outlets in place.

Town hall business boss Cllr Asima Shaikh said: “Right from the outset we worked with the developer and the Long Table to make sure our residents had a stake in the economic benefits of the project.

“In addition, we have secured two units there for 15 years at a peppercorn rent that will become an affordable workspace offering even 
more employment and training opportunities for residents.”

There will also be restaurant space in the basement and on the first floor of the building.

Another aspect of the scheme will see schoolkids offered work experience placements in one of the training kitchens, with Central Foundation Boys’ School and the old Mount Carmel School – now Highgate Hill School – both showing interest before plans were approved at a town hall planning meeting on Monday night.

Developers believe the training centre will give aspiring chefs the “support structure to start trading and showcasing their work” without the significant upfront costs that would normally be expected with opening and running a small restaurant in London.

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