Eating Out

Food for thought: The Bear Chefs at Above The Stag

Above The Stag is the Boyz Award-winning theatre that’s not only the UK’s only full time LGBT+ theatre but has also just moved into a swish new home on the Albert Embankment. Making use of the new space they now have a studio theatre and are now open six days a week for food too. Dave Cross spoke to Matt from The Bear Chefs, the team behind the food, to get a taster.

Hi Matt, please tell us about The Bear Chefs, what’s the idea of the company? 

My partner Jonny and I started the business as a private chef service and things rapidly took off from there. Now we’re bringing our own delicious food to Above The Stag six days a week. Our manifesto is that we create food using produce sourced from local and generally small British producers. Ethical farming and sustainability are at the forefront of our business. It’s not so much about being a bear, but rather eating like one!

How did it all come together?

Jonny and I met last year and knew that we wanted to do something together in food, it’s one of our shared passions. Jonny is a really talented chef and I’m a pretty accomplished self-taught cook. We’d both grown weary of working for others in the cut-throat London hospitality scene and decided to change things up. Now we’re just tired from working non-stop.

How would you describe the food you make? 

Fabulously flexitarian fayre. That’s our mantra. We both eat minimal meat but when we do it’s always great quality. Our menus are totally inclusive of all dietary needs and flexible to suit everyone from the carnivore down to a committed vegan. To be honest, most people are surprised when they discover they’re eating something vegan.

What will you be offering at Above The Stag? 

At Above The Stag we are offering an all day menu six days a week. Tom, Peter and the team wanted to create a new hub for Vauxhall, which has a pretty barren foodscape. Our menu is really accessible and designed with stuff to grab and go – small plates and platters to have a wine and natter with friends or pre- and post-theatre dining if you’re seeing a show.

What are the times that people can get your food? 

We currently open from noon Tuesday to Sunday – stay tuned for brunch plans to come – and close the kitchen between 9pm and 9.30pm depending on showtimes and demand. The new Above The Stag venue is so amazing and has such a lovely laidback vibe that makes it a great place to hang out. People are welcome whether seeing a show or not. Drop in, grab a coffee, snack, lunch, cocktail, glass of wine or something more substantial. It’s what London has been missing on the scene for a long time.

What else do we need to know? 

Apart from the fact that we stock amazing Hackney Gelato in three flavours? Our cheeses come from Paxton & Whitfield on Jermyn Street, our charcuterie is all rare-breed and cured in North London by Hugo at Blackhands. Most of our pulses, legumes and fresh produce we source through Foodchain and come from amazing small producers like The Wonky Parsnip and Audacious Veg. And the runaway stars of our ‘show’ at Above The Stag are the Cacklebean Eggs we use in Jonny’s famous Scotch eggs.

The Bear Chefs at Above The Stag is open every day except Monday

Above The Stag, 72 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, SE1.

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