My West London Life

Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters

May
2

Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters, founders of all-vegan and alcohol-free Redemption Bar - which has just crowdfunded over £300k for further expansion - talk ethical business, female leadership, and the wonder of urban green spaces like Hyde Park

What was the inspiration behind the launch of Redemption Bar?

It’s brilliant that so many people are choosing to lead healthier lifestyles, not just for themselves but for the planet. The younger generation are becoming more conscious, turning away from alcohol and consuming fewer animal products.

This is a global trend which we started to notice in 2012 and it’s here to stay. We thought there was a gap in the market to cater to these trends—we asked the question, ‘why should socialising always be at the expense of your health?’

What is important to you about your all-vegan, alcohol-free ethos?

The restaurant industry is really competitive and it’s hard to stand out, especially with so many ‘healthy’ claims being made. We took the brave decision to go to the full extreme of removing all toxins and temptations so that we were able to say we are the healthiest restaurant in the world (!) and that you can spoil yourself without spoiling yourself, that you can’t make a bad decision once you walk though the door.

It would be far easier to make money by serving some alcohol, or making desserts with sugar and wheat, or giving people the option of cow’s milk in their coffee. But as time has gone on, we are really pleased that we don’t buy anything like milk or eggs, hipsters under 35 love us, and the alcohol-free drinks industry has also really taken off with cool products like Fitbeer.

Do you think other restaurants have a responsibility now to start thinking about the sources of their food and sustainability when they come up with their menus?

We wanted to create an ethical business that, at its core, was beneficial to humans, animals and the planet. Maybe it sounds hippy, but maybe we are just hippies!

We find it difficult when we meet other people in our industry who don’t even think about, for example, the welfare of the cows, when they are churning out burgers all day long. We don’t want to preach but it’s shocking how blinkered some people are—they think the role of business is solely to create profit, whereas we think all of us have a responsibility to be way more holistic than that.

Redemption Bar - credit to Claire Menary (6)

What are your favourite aspects of each of your jobs, and what are the most challenging elements of them?

Andrea: I love being in the kitchen and the pressure and camaraderie of a busy shift. I also love researching new menu ideas and coming up with new recipes. I work almost all the time, but it doesn’t feel like it because I love it so much.

Catherine: I’m more of a general business person so I’ve had to learn the trade—fast—from Andrea and Lisa (Inglis, our Operations Manager). Andrea laughs at me if I try to do anything with a knife in the kitchen. I’m useless. But hopefully I’m good at the big picture: steering the company in the right direction, setting the right tone of respect for our team and our customers, taking the company to stability and growth.

The worst part of the business is if something goes wrong with a customer and you get a vicious 1* review. I think people don’t realise that a restaurant is like an iceberg, with so many thousands of things to get right behind the scenes, in order to deliver an amazing experience. It’s quite high pressure because in our society now, if you drop the ball or make a mistake then everyone hears about it.

What and who inspires you?

It probably sounds a bit obvious but we are both inspired by our strong, independent mums and grandmothers. We realised the other day that our company is almost entirely led by women, but we don’t pay much attention to gender so we hadn’t really thought about it before. But we know 100% there will be no #metoo moments at Redemption.

How did you come up with the name Redemption Bar?

Catherine: I came up with it while on a run in Australia, it just came to me in a flash. When I got back home I checked all the trademark registrations around the world and I couldn’t believe it hadn’t already been trademarked.

Redemption Bar Shoreditch (17)

What has been your proudest moment?

Because of our ethical credentials, we just got named in the Top 15 Most Influential Women in Food, alongside greats like Angela Hartnett. That was pretty cool.

What are your top tips for west London; what would your ideal day out here involve?

Portobello Market is still excellent—you can still find things there that you can’t find anywhere else. Go on a Friday so you have more space to wander. Go further up to Golborne Road and check out the gorgeous interiors shops.

Obviously come to Redemption and take your pick of our best-selling dishes like sweetcorn pancakes with guacamole, buff burger made with mushrooms and walnuts, or lime cheesecake.

Go to Hyde Park and marvel at the beautiful nature in the middle of the city, and try to figure out how much that real estate is worth, and be grateful we are living in a country which understands the value in protecting it.

What else do you enjoy outside work?

Outside work? What is that? Sleeping?!

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Well, we must both love London the most because this is where we have lived for 20-30 years. We both love Australia, New Zealand, Ibiza, and Southeast Asia.

What’s next for Redemption Bar?

We would love to combine our passion for Redemption with our passion for travelling. We think Redemption Bar would work really well in lots of big cities around the world. We are hoping to set up deals in the Middle East and USA first, and then it would be great if we could open in Australia, so Andrea would be able to see her family more regularly in New Zealand.

www.redemptionbar.co.uk

Paola Langella

September
18

Originally from Naples, Paola Langella is a former dancer, but took up teaching Pilates after she suffered a neck injury and had to stop training. With gentle and holistic methods, she’s known to achieve amazing results. We catch up with Paola on her passion for Pilates and unravel some of those top health tips she swears by.

Can you tell us how your career in Pilates came about and what inspired you to make this your livelihood?

I approached the Pilates technique because I injured my neck during a dance show. I had two slipped discs at the cervical spine and I couldn’t move my left arm. All the doctors and osteopaths I… Read more →

Mrs J Mackay

September
3

Mrs J Mackay, head teacher at Hawkesdown House, on the education system, what it takes for a busy school head to unwind, and the recent change of becoming co-ed after a long history of all-boys prep schooling.

Hawkesdown House has historically been an all-boys prep, but we hear you’re becoming co-ed. What has sparked this change, and how do you think the school will change with it?

Hawkesdown is indeed becoming co-ed and at the same time extending its provision to 11. In my time as Headmistress here, I have… Read more →