Since we first named her London's 'Queen of Porridge' back in December, 26 Grains owner Alex Hely-Hutchinson has been hard at work scattering her grains even further across the city. She founded the company in 2014, making her mark on the pop-up scene with temporary residencies at cafés, coffee shops and wellness events, as well as a stint at Old Street Tube station. Alex celebrates the humble grain with a menu of seasonal, inventive flavour concoctions like porridge with beetroot, sour cream and walnut, or roasted plums with coconut yogurt and pistachio. Where possible, grains grown on English soil are used, as well as locally sourced fruit and vegetables. If your experience of porridge has so far been confined to the good old banana and honey combo, 26 Grains shows just what can be done with a bit of imagination.
There's a real confidence amongst females in this industry
In recent months, 26 Grains has continued storming the pop-up scene with office residencies at Vogue, Glamour and House & Garden, as well as filling the shelves of Ben's House and Psycle London. When we went to meet her she was fresh from catering an H&M press day in central London. "The brand's growing up!" she says. "I feel like working by yourself gives you a certain confidence to approach different people, and aim high."
As of June, Alex will be opening up shop for a year right in the heart of London's most whimsical square, Neal's Yard. "I feel so fortunate. It's an opportunity to test the market, it's where I've always dreamed of the business going," she tells us. "I think the whole of London is moving away from tailoring to tourism. People are more interested than ever in every day joys, and things that have been really considered. Especially in food. People are giving small business like mine a chance. I think this area is great for that, I'm really excited to be a part of it."
Amongst the patchwork of coloured doors and windows, the new 26 Grains store will serve granola, risotto, muesli and, of course, porridge. Alex will also use the site to host supperclubs and workshops with local businesses. "It finally feels like there's a real confidence amongst females in this industry. It's the perfect time for young women to start a venture of their own," Alex says.
Look out for 26 Grains' new home as of June. And if you haven't sampled one of Alex's grainy creations yet, be sure to get there quick. You wouldn't want to risk missing out on a bowl of blackberry, rosemary and almond butter porridge, would you now?
Alex's Top Breakfast Spots in London