The Big Peckham Lunch

July 19, 2010


Big Lunch

We did it! Yesterday afternoon the people of Rye Apartments came together along with a bunch of my mates for a good old nosh up in the car park. Today I feel totally exhausted but so happy that we managed to pull it off. I’ll be honest, there were moments during our 13 hour cook-off the day before when I was apprehensive. What if there isn’t enough food? What if people don’t turn up? We started at 9am and before we knew it, we were slumped on cardboard boxes in the middle of my flat, dishevelled and slightly sweaty, trying to keep our eyes open to finish rolling vine leaves; it was 11pm. A long hard day and a huge amount of work.

It was important to do justice though, to the stellar ingredients that people donated and I must say a heartfelt thank you to all of them.

On the food front, Riverford Organics donated fruit, vegetables and herbs; Barber’s donated some of their delicious cheddar (which went into a cheese and onion tart, biscuits, scones and pretty much anything else) and Maryland Farmhouse butter. Rachel’s Organic sent milk, yoghurt (a whole lot of yoghurt), crème fraiche and cream, and Pong Cheese a selection of their cheeses including a Camembert, a goat’s cheese, a cheddar and a Bath Soft Cheese. They went into quiches and tart

Green and Blacks sent their organic chocolate for our super squidgy brownies and marbled chocolate meringues, and for the cake making, we had flour kindly donated by Kate Thal at Green and Blue Wines and unrefined sugar from Billington’s. The eggs were really special; old breed Burford Browns, Old Cotswold Legbar and duck eggs from Clarence Court. The colour of the yolks was intensely amber. Sally Butcher from Persepolis stepped in on the nuts and honey side of things – we had coffee and walnut cake, sunflower seeded biscuits and cherry and ground almond cake, plus some stuffed vine leaves with raisins. In our cakes and on our scones we spread clotted cream from Rodda’s and Fraser Doherty’s fruity Super Jam and I must mention that they were speedily and expertly mixed by my new pride and joy, which Kitchenaid sent to ease the burden on my puny arm muscles. She is the newest sparkliest shade of grape; I’ve named her Gilberta

The ever brilliant Paganum kindly donated 3 amazing topsides of Malhamdale Belted Galloway beef, which we used in roast beef and horseradish sandwiches, plus a Thai-style salad dressed with chilli, fish sauce, coriander and the like. Yianni of Meatwagon fame sorted me out with chicken drumsticks from his butcher and of course I had to jerk some, although I managed to rein myself in slightly and Tikka the rest for variety.

On the drinks side of things, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people who wanted to get involved. We had loose leaf tea from Lahloo, plus a lot of booze for those feeling fruity. Russian Standard Vodka donated 3 bottles for vodka iced teas; The Ship, a brilliant pub in Wandsworth run by a great bunch of people sent over Pimm’s plus all the trimmings – very summery. On the beer and fizzy front we had Moritz and Rothaus beer from The Beer Merchants, there was sweet, fruity cider from Sweden (Rekorderlig) plus Young’s London Gold, Adnams bitter, Red Stripe lager and Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer which everyone loved. It’s available in quite a few pubs around London now – I urge you to give it a try.

For those who avoid the bubbles, there was vino from my new local, The Victoria Inn, the owner of which helped out in more ways than one throughout the whole event, even ferrying over another Kitchenaid in his car. His motto is “the pub is hub”. Bloody nice bloke. Casillero del Diablo provided more wine and there was stonking chilled sherry from Tio Pepe. I think we can agree that there was something for everyone!

To round off the feast, some Bompas and Parr iris jellies with ambergris (that’s whale vomit to you and me) and candied orange from their Complete History of Food event. We wibbled them around and giggled. Hic! They were seriously boozy with Courvoisier. I love everything Bompas and Parr do and you should too.

And last, but by no means least, I’d like to say a really huge thank you to my mate Lizzie. She worked like a dog during that 13 hour cook off and basically kept me going throughout. I could not have done it without her so thank you Mabs, for being a damn good friend. We make a brilliant team.

So that’s it! We used 40 eggs, 3kg flour, 4kg sugar, an absolute shedload of cheese and a whole bottle of washing up liquid (not in the cakes you understand). My friend Rachel made that amazing bunting from my dodgy old clothes which is, quite frankly, nothing short of a miracle. The only slight disappointment was that more of the neighbours didn’t turn up but hey, what can I do; we put on an amazing spread and all they had to do is walk outside – if that doesn’t encourage them then nothing will. The ones that did turn up were absolutely lovely though and I invited a load of my mates anyway so the whole thing went off Peckham stylee. Today is a bit of a come down but I’ll get over it; I’ve already started thinking about a new project to sink my teeth into.

Of course the whole idea was to raise money for Maggie’s and that we did. The donations are still trickling in and we’ve already reached the £200 mark so I think that makes the event a success. Thanks so much to everyone who donated money. You did good. I’ll leave you with a little vid of the cook-off and the lunch itself. Cheers! You can see all the food photos here.

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    Reply Ollie July 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    SO well done – it sounds like an absolute triumph. Gutted I couldn’t be there but thrilled you raised so much money for such a good cause.

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    Reply shayma July 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    congrats, Helen- everything looks really gorgeous. in particular, those squidgy brownies and roasted tommies look superb! congrats to Lizzie, too. well done, you. x shayma

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    Reply miss south July 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Wow! That looks triumphant! Congrats on the money raised and the amount of planning it all took!

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    Reply Adam July 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    The food looks amazing Helen, congratulations to you both on the sterling effort. I’m just sorry I couldn’t make it!

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    Reply Julia July 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Great job! Good transformation of the car park, too!

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    Reply Chris July 19, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    It was fucking awesome. All the food was completely amazing and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. A brilliant day, and well done you and Lizzie. Those neighbours don’t know what they missed!

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    Reply Wendy July 19, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Wow. Wow. Wow. I’m so so so impressed I am feeling the need to say everything three times. That’s an amazing spread. You should feel incredibly proud and those neighbours who didn’t attend should feel like numpties!

    Well done you. Times three.

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    Reply James July 19, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    A truly royal feast. Is there something hiding under that table?

  • Reply Tweets that mention New blog post: The Big Peckham Lunch. We did it! ( -- July 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FoodStories, Slice of Cherry Pie and Emma Dickinson, The Ship. The Ship said: RT @FoodStories: New blog post: The Big Peckham Lunch. We did it! (@hollowlegs) […]

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    Reply Gourmet Chick July 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Well done Helen – and I totally love the bunting – your friend should go into business

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    Reply Helen July 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Oh my! What a feast! More fool your neighbours for not making the most of that glorious food! I would pretty much sell my soul for one of those brownies right now.

    Love your blog! x

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    Reply Becci July 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Oh wow. I want to put my face in those tarts. The food all looks so amazing and I can’t believe you did all that in one day. It would take me about 2 weeks I reckon.

    I hope you managed to enjoy the day and you weren’t too exhausted to have fun.


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    Reply Peter July 19, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Again, bravo on a big task with a noble cause attached to it. I owe you a stiff drink!

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    Reply Sarah July 19, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Oh, if I’d realised that’s where you live I would have been by for leftovers today as I was right there for work!! Have you received a letter about your recycling lately? That was me!

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    Reply meemalee July 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Bloody amazing – well done to everyone involved in the Peckham Big Lunch, but especially you and Lizzie!

    Silly neighbours …

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    Reply msmarmitelover July 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    The food looks fantastic, well done. x

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    Reply tehbus July 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    It was an absolute pleasure to have been at your Big Lunch. Had a fab time. Well done!

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    Reply gastrogeek July 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Blimmin heck this looks supergood! Well done to both of you, that’s what I call a spread

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    Reply Su-Lin July 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Brilliant effort, Helen! If I were your neighbour, I’d be there in a flash! Love the bunting too!

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    Reply Tv Food and Drink July 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Tremendous! Those pictures and video were amazing. I wish I had a slightly larger kitchen and a slightly smaller apartment complex and I’d try something similar myself. All your hard work really paid off. I’m totally inspired! – Gary

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    Reply Leila July 20, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Helen, you rock. Nuff said x

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    Reply LexEat! July 20, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Where do I even begin? An incredible effort with a justifiably brilliant result! You and Lizzie should be so proud. And what generousity from all those suppliers?! ( did Kitchen Aid actually give you one for keeps!!).

    Really amazing – well done

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    Reply Manne July 20, 2010 at 8:41 am

    That is an amazing effort! Well done! Now I would have gone to sleep. For a week.

    // Manne

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    Reply Beth Everard July 20, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Hi Helen, this looks absolutely amazing – I’m so impressed. I’d love to do something similar in Hackney.

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    Reply Lizzie July 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    YES! We did it! Bloody well done to the both of us but especially you. What a mammoth undertaking and you were an awesome host. We DO make a brilliant team. Big love x

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    Reply TheFastestIndian July 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

    How completely amazing! Muchos congratulations to you and Lizzie!
    PS Please move to my neighbourhood.

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    Reply Laura July 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Oh my god – what a spread! Those brownies look so good. Well done to both you and Lizzie for all your hard work. I hope you suitably over indulged!

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    Reply An American in London July 20, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Just echoing everyone else’s comments – you did justice to all the donated ingredients, that’s for sure. And well done for trying to bring your neighbors together *and* raise money for a worthy cause.

    Now the question is: were there leftovers, and where can I get a slice of that cheesy frittata?

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    Reply The Shed July 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

    That’s not a big lunch, that’s PHAT lunch! Well done ladies.

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    Reply Food Urchin July 20, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Fantastic effort Helen, bravo to you and Lizzie for all your hard work.

    PS did you really use old pairs of undies for bunting? And I got that from Lizzie’s tweets by the way..

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    Reply Kerri July 20, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    It looks incredible, you guys must have worked so hard. Such a brilliant thing to do, well done!

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    Reply Krista July 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    AMAZING!!! Wish I could have come by. Love that you did a video too. What a fun post. Much love to Gilberta. 🙂

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    Reply aisling July 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    What photos, what food, what an effort, what a fabulous neighbour you must be! Well done, it looked like a wonderful spread and well done for securing so much support and raising money for a great cause along the way. You make it all look and sound straightforward, and having tried to organise a few “voluntary” events in my neighbourhood, I know it’s not.
    I second the request for some cheesy frittata – mouthwatering photo!

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    Reply catty July 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    All I can say is WOWZAH. i am bowled over impressed with the spread you guys put on… what a superb effort! And I *heart* Gilberta muchly!

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    Reply Helen July 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks so much everyone for all your comments. It was hard work but I’m so happy we pulled it off. Lovely to hear your feedback too. In fact, you’re all invited to my place for lunch next week.

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    Reply Katie July 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Wish I had a neighbour like you – what an incredible lunch you created with Lizzie. Have you recovered yet?! What did you do with the leftovers?! Well done on all the dosh you raised too. Good result on the kitchenaid – nice colour!

    If you make more videos can you get that photographer guy with the beard back? He’s hilariously random!!!!!

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    Reply Martin July 20, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Utterly awesome, congratulations. Gutted I couldn’t be there – looks like the weather was on your side too!

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    Reply ginandcrumpets July 21, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Total triumph! Looks so fantastic, you should be massively proud of yourself (and Lizzie too).

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    Reply Leila July 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Haha — if you’re serious about lunch next week Helen, I’m in! Look at that spread!

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen July 21, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Everything looks fantastic Helen! I am mega impressed with what you pulled off! YOU GO! Next year I want an invite! 😉

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    Reply KSalty July 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Big fat well done – sounds like your neighbours don’t know what they’re missing
    K x

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    Reply Jeanne @ CookSister! July 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Well done you!! That looks absolutely amazing and it’s wonderful that companies really got behind you and donated. Shame on your neighbours for not stepping outside to join you! As for those squidgy brownies… OMG!

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    Reply Niamh July 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Well done! Looks great.

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    Reply La cocina de Serrats July 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    OMG!!! Those look gorgeous!! Well done!!

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    Reply Choclette July 27, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Oh wow, what an amazing lunch – fabulous looking food and great photos. Hats off to you for doing so much work. Glad it all went well – love the idea of Big Lunch, even though I haven’t been part of one yet.

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    Reply The Graphic Foodie August 4, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Well done Helen. Our street is gearing up for the “Big Picnic”. Everyone is bringing a dish to spread the load but even if the spread looks a fraction as good as yours did then I’ll be happy. Hello to Gilberta by the way. I got the mincing attachment for “Betty” today and recommend it!

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