Street food venue KERB is stepping up its game with KERB Crates – a four-week series of open-air, quick-fire events every Thursday. This week, we quiz co-founder of pizza restaurant Franco Manca, Bridget Hugo, ahead of her turn on the ‘crate’.

“Offering lots of choice may seem more ‘democratic’ – but democracy often tastes awful.”

Where did the inspiration come from for the small but perfectly formed Franco Manca menu?

We had two main things in mind: health and flavour – so this determined decisions like excluding coke and cappuccino, and inventing a ‘secret syrup’ for our fresh lemonade instead. Offering lots of choice may seem more ‘democratic’ – but democracy often tastes awful. It can undermine the efficiency of your service. We simply introduced two seasonal pizzas to the four stone classics, and added a salad.

What was the key lesson you learnt from your travels around Italy and the most-loved ingredient or method that you brought back?

Making good espresso is a huge challenge, and when it is good it is so good that you simply wish it could always be that way. We are very happy with our coffee supplier (Frasi) from Verona – and we put a lot of training into this. But I should really say the mozzarella process – I spent a lot of time documenting it and took English cheese makers over to Molise and vice versa. Basically we brought the correct method back so we could have fresh English-made mozzarella instead of importing it.

Franco Manca

Bridget Hugo, co-founder of Franco Manca and founder of BreadBread

Why did you pick Brixton as the initial spot to set up Franco Manca?

Giuseppe (co-founder) and I both live in Brixton. I was offered a space in the market where Eco Pizza was vacating, and felt we should stay on home turf – especially if the area was losing a half-decent pizzeria already. Plus Franco‘s pizzeria had been there before that (and we know Franco). There was not much in Brixton, so it seemed there was plenty of room for improving the food scene – and keeping the pizza site alive. It was a big risk though!

What’s the key to a fabulous sourdough pizza base?

Time.

Tell us a bit about the ingredients and methods used at your company BreadBread.

I have worked with a lot of different English and Italian flours, and nothing beats certain Italian pizza flours for making long fermentation bread – they really know how to blend it right. Having said that, I love the English flours I use and combine them in several different bread recipes. The rye flour you can get here is wonderful. I also make some 100% organic flour products. But much of my methodology in baking and cooking is Italian/Sicilian inspired.

Do you have a favourite loaf at BreadBread?

Yes, two! I believe my re-styled organic BLOOMER puts all other breads to bed when it comes to flavour. And the traditional Italian Cafone is the best textured bread on the planet – a real chef’s favourite.

And your favourite sourdough topping?

Smashed eggs and poached avocado… I’m joking, but something trendy and brunchy always works. Actually one of my favourite toppings is a whole roast chicken – dripping toast made with sourdough is a heavenly thing.

What will we find BreadBread serving up at London markets?

I have recently made a sweet cinnamon bun recipe for the markets, which is a naughty but very nice complement to all the savoury loaves for sale… and I will do a potato focaccia next, because it makes a simple and very satisfying snack as-is, plus it can go with lots of other goodies you might buy in the market.

“The city offers you the unexpected, in a way that a sleepy town or quiet village is much less likely to do. It is a challenging environment – and we challenge it back.”

Can you share a little about how you’ll answer the question: “What is a city for?” at the KERB Crates event?

The city offers you the unexpected, in a way that a sleepy town or quiet village is much less likely to do. It is a challenging environment – and we challenge it back. It is soft and malleable in a way, and let’s us determine what it is for. We experiment and come up with all sorts of surprising outcomes in a city. I love about it as a place of expression.

And finally, what’s your favourite foodie spot in London?

That is a naughty question because there are so many good spots. But my favourite has not changed for a while actually – it is still Yauatcha, in Soho. It is a haven of sensual extravagance that really calms me down.

KERB Crates | Bridget Hugo speaks on: Cities are for… Surprises | 12.45pm Thursday 9 June | King’s Boulevard | King’s Cross N1C

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