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Freddie Janssen has her finger in many pies. Since moving from Holland to London seven years ago, she has been at work lighting up the food circuit with supperclubs and chef residencies. The city, she tells us, opened her eyes to food. “I was overwhelmed by the variety of stuff there was to eat. I was trying so many new things. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to work in food here. I haven’t regretted it once.”
Five days a week, she handles the PR and marketing at Lyle’s, the celebrated Shoreditch restaurant headed by chef James Lowe. “I was working at s small advertising agency, but had my eye on Lyle’s,” she explains. “I’d always joked to James that I would come and work with him the second he opened a restaurant!” Lyle’s pays homage to British cuisine, and has already achieved status as one of London’s best restaurants from several publications (Observer, Time Out).
I just always want to try new things, I’m always looking for the next exciting thing to eat.
“The reason people love it is pretty simple. James is just an incredible chef, and the food is delicious,” she says. “It’s just honest and simple. It is, obviously, my favourite place to eat in London. There’s this huge misconception around British food. We have access to so much amazing produce in England, and Lyle’s really celebrates that.”
In 2009 Freddie founded F.A.T, a pop-up café and purveyor of pickles, kimchi and sauces, all made by her. The company was originally birthed alongside jewellery designer and artist Alice Waese and the writer-editor Terence Teh; hence the name ‘F.A.T’.
Last year, she set up her ‘F.A.T by Freddie’ sandwich counter at Sharp’s barbershop in Fitzrovia, while coffee masterminds Dunnefrankowski headed a coffee shop at the front of house. F.A.T by Freddie, named by Town Daily as ‘London’s Best Sandwich’ included a menu of inventive sandwiches bursting with ingredients from her close culinary circles. These included Neal’s Yard cheeses, The Boilermaker chillies, Bread Ahead sourdough and ketchup from James Lowe. “I’m very embarrassed if anyone ever refers to me as a chef!” Freddie tells us, “I’m just someone who loves cooking and trying new things. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they definitely don’t!”
Once a month, you’ll find Freddie downstairs at Rita’s, the Hackney diner where she runs a pop-up snack bar. You may have heard of her mind-blowing ‘hurricane popcorn’: kettle corn, bacon, shiso, sesame seeds and pineapple, amongst other things…
With her ice-blonde bob and handful of rings, pint-sized Freddie is one of those people that can command a room with little to no effort. With her combined passion for food and marketing knowledge, she has one foot steadily ahead of London’s newest culinary movements. We visited Freddie during an afternoon break at Lyle’s, where we found her outside waiting for a box of cuttlefish to be delivered. There, she began telling us about plans for her forthcoming pop-up, which will be inspired by Dutch fast food. “I love everything to do with food,” she tells us. “I just always want to try new things, I’m always looking for the next exciting thing to eat.”
The most exciting food Freddie’s tried in London recently? “It has to be Bao. That place is the best hangover cure in the city. It’s so beautiful and clean in there, and the food is amazing,” she says.
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