In London, a public relations specialist is bringing together the country’s most irreverent chefs under the umbrella of an unusual food club and a yearly festival open to the most curious foodies.
Alexa Perrin is the owner of APR Consultancy and the founder of London’s Experimental Food Society, a club that brings together Britain’s most talented and pioneering gourmet artists. Every year her society of butter sculptors, food landscape artists, food magicians, cake artists, food futurologists, conceptual food artists and food model-makers, reunite to excite the masses with their Spectacular Exhibition, an initiative made of talks, tastings and workshops that this year consisted into a “British Icon” themed banquet at the Cook Book Café of the Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel and a talk about British Food Artistry at the V&A museum.
We cached up with Alexa just after her yearly appointment, to know more about experimenting with food in London and how she got involved with the world of food.
What was your professional background before APR consulting and how did you end up working with food?
I grew up in a family of foodies. My uncle was one of the first people to bring Thai restaurants to the UK in the early 80’s and I spent much time in his restaurants buying exotic food stuffs, helping in the kitchen and sampling different foods. My mother used to bake cakes for local businesses and I would sometimes also help her. My interest in food and drink has simply developed over the years.
I also head up the New Business & PR department at ‘i-am’ associates, an international brand experience agency which works across various sectors such as international banking and education to name a few but in terms of the restaurant sector has worked across brands such as Itsu, Chilango’s, Comptoir Libernais and VQ. So my worth with food is fairly broad and diverse. A variety of situations and reasons led me to setting up the Experimental Food Society in late 2009 but at the forefront was a desire to revive and champion the food arts in the UK, offer a platform to the incredible talent here, inspire others to follow a career path in this area and to excite everyone with some truly exciting happenings in the food industry.
This sounds really cross-boarder. Which is your favorite food culture?
British food culture because I love the diversity, the passion, the rich heritage and the eccentricity. Also the British desire to pioneer and innovate. Earlier you mentioned that your family has always worked with food. What is the first taste you remember? Peas. My grandma used to live by a pea field in Norfolk, which as a toddler I would wander into and shell and eat peas. I was perfectly content.
Is food in general having a special moment nowadays?
It is a special long-term relationship, not a moment. Food and our relationship with it is constantly evolving. This has been aided and abetted by experimentation and pioneering work – from early man to today. From the discovery of using fire to cook food about a million years ago to the creation of cookbooks, which can be traced back to the 1st century, and all the way to the introduction of novel foods, our experience and understanding of food is a journey of experimental discovery and a thoroughly exciting one at that. It maps our culinary future from the crucial matter of survival to our appetite for pleasure. Obviously the revival of food artistry in the UK is a moment that fills me with great pleasure. It is one that I hope continues to develop.
What is the most interesting thing about how people and artists see food today?
People are far more knowledgable about food than they once were and real developments are being made into the multi sensory experience of eating and dining which opens up all sorts of exciting avenues.