We recently caught up with Padraic Hayden, owner of Camden Kitchen to see what is new….
How has business been since re-opening. Has there been any discernible changes in terms of customer expectations?
We’re slowly getting back to normal and the main thing is for our customers to feel confident and comfortable with the measures we’ve introduced. It’s been very much like a new opening, as exciting as it is daunting.
What’s on the menu for autumn/winter? What ingredients and flavour combinations are exciting you?
We love the autumn and winter season and are really happy to reconnect with our game supplier.
Pumpkins and root vegetables are playing a bigger role on our menus, along with venison and slow-cooked dishes like ox cheek and duck.
How important has re-establishing relations with neighbourhood regulars been? How have you approached attracting new clientele?
Our blueprint 11 years ago was to open a neighbourhood restaurant that was welcoming and casual but one which offered value, serving top quality ingredients and consistency. The locals have supported us every step of the way and were first in the doors when we did finally manage to reopen. It’s great to have that kind of support and it’s not taken for granted – it’s a great area of the city.
A major talking point has been issues of staffing in the industry at the moment, what are your thoughts on this and has it affected you?
The staffing crisis has been steadily brewing for years. The Covid situation has intensified the problem but the root causes and failure to attract and retain young talent is still the same. We still have our pre-Covid team and are lucky in that respect, but long term the industry needs to make changes and the government needs to step in with sufficient training programs and support.
Have you reappraised your business approach in light of the pandemic? Has it brought a renewed sense of vigour and purpose?
We had a long time to assess what we are about. We’ve always been driven by a desire to deliver a great dining experience. Our focus on seasonality, flavour and hospitality has been rejuvenated and we’re excited to get back to what we love doing and trying to improve.
Is there one restaurant abroad you are most looking forward to visiting when you get to travel again?
I’m really looking forward to travelling again and Paris is one of my absolute favourite cities to visit. Two favourite spots in Paris are Septime and Chez L’Ami Jean.
3A, Camden Market