My West London Life

Ron Kastner

Ron Kastner

December
7

New Yorker, Ron Kastner, on theatrical achievements and new projects

Where do you live and why?

Kensington, near Notting Hill. I like the vibe and mix of people, good schools and parks. It’s also close enough to walk and/or use public transport everywhere.

You’re originally from New York. What do you miss?

Not that much really; it used to be hipper, raw and more cutting-edge but has become more homogenised. Sometimes I miss the energy and adrenaline as well as the openness and directness of people compared to here and there is also a melting pot and immigrant aspect of New York that you don’t find here. I definitely miss WNYC, the publicly-supported radio station, but you can now get most of it here online.

You’ve scooped awards as a film and theatre producer. What are you most proud of and why?

Probably the first Best Play Tony Award for Side Man, because it was such a thrill. Also the Best Musical Olivier for Spring Awakening, because it validated a show that I was extremely proud of that unfortunately closed early.

Broadway or West End – which do you prefer and why?

West End because it’s more collegial and because Broadway has moved towards a more corporate and conservative profile since I started, although the same is starting to happen here. Commercial productions used to be able to take the risks that they do but those days are over. Now it’s mostly revivals and star casting. Theatre should always be about entertaining people, but it should also get them to think and, more importantly, feel.

What was the last play you saw?

Press night for Onassis.

What’s in your west London black book?

Respiro [33 Kensington Park Road, London, W11], a neighbourhood café in Notting Hill. I also enjoy eating Moroccan fish sitting on the street on Golborne Road and I love Holland Park for its peacefulness.

You founded three successful restaurants in New York. What do you put their success down to?

The people who founded them with me, and who still run them, are ethical, use locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, and don’t try to be all things to all people.

What’s your most memorable west London meal?

The one that Amrik made for me and my wife at his house way before I became involved in HOLYFOOD.

How did you get involved with HOLYFOOD?

I offered Amrik some business advice on a project he was working on and after going over the plans in a café for a week we realised that we like working with each other.  When I sampled the food I was hooked.

How do you keep fit and healthy?

Eat well, yoga and/or meditation almost every day, plus walking as much as possible, plus I try to detox regularly. I don’t get enough aerobic exercise, though.

What makes you happy?

Coming up with new ideas and making them work, feeling free, and most of all being a husband and father to three wonderful girls.

What’s the most extravagant luxury item you’ve ever bought?

My wife’s engagement ring, but that might be looked at as a necessity, not a luxury!

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

The list is long, but near the top is congratulating a friend I hadn’t seen in a while for being pregnant when she had merely gained weight. Also, never guess a woman’s age when asked; it can only lead to trouble no matter what your answer is.

What’s your philosophy on life?

Never stop growing and exploring; be honest; be considerate of others but not so much that you lose yourself; genuine quality will always prevail; all good things come from within; be really good to those you love and who love you; try to be lucky.

HOLYFOOD is available for home delivery throughout west London and can also accommodate special requests for special requests for larger dinner parties or special occasions www.holyfood.co.uk; 020 8964 0191

Philip Hanson

February
22

We caught up with Philip Hanson, the 21 year old sports-car racing prodigy

Do you live or work in west London?

I live in Chelsea.

What’s your favourite thing about the area?

I love how local everything feels, restaurants and cafes are all within short walking distances. A Saturday market in the Duke of York Square helps establish a relaxed environment in a city that can be so chaotic.… Read more →

Markus Thesleff

February
16

We chatted to Markus Thesleff about opening his new restaurant, Los Mochis, in the middle of a pandemic

Do you live or work in west London?

I live and work in Notting Hill.

What’s your favourite thing about the area?

I view it as a continually evolving cosmopolitan village, blending local residents and businesses in a great neighborhood environment. Normally the area attracts many tourists, especially… Read more →