Interview with the founder
An exclusive insight from the visionary behind Wild Peacock, Andrea Bauer-Kadhim
How did you come up with the name Wild Peacock?
Peacocks are my favourite birds because they are unimaginably elegant and beautiful. And elegance and beauty are what we always, always strive for in everything we do.
Where did the Wild Peacock story begin?
I came to London from my hometown of Munich in 1999 to brush up my English. I was only going to stay six months but then I got a job at Grosvenor House in the Incentive Markets department, where I was responsible for arranging whole stays for huge numbers of overseas guests - sometimes as many as 500 delegates from America. Very often they were VIPs and it was my job to make sure everything ran smoothly - it probably helped that I was always hopeless at recognising famous faces, so I never got star struck! After that, I moved to Somerset House, organising private events. It was a totally different kettle of fish - in a hotel, you have the infrastructure and all the equipment you need. At a venue like Somerset House, you need to remember every last detail, right down to the cutlery. I discovered how much I loved seeing it all go without a glitch - but more than that, I loved how happy people were when their special event surpassed what they had dreamt of. In 2006, I set up Young and Wild, my own events and catering company with a very inspiring chef I had met at Somerset House; he was just brilliant on the food front, while I shone at liaising with the clients. In 2010, I started on my own as Wild Peacock and I haven't looked back.
What is your earliest food memory?
It was my Mum's delicious Bavarian food: simple and delicious with fresh seasonal ingredients. I grew up with a wonderful selection of cold meats and salamis - and where I'm from in Munich, there's a strong Italian influence, so we're extra spoilt. German cuisine meets Italian there - typical dishes are simple breads and meat; Bavarian antipasti, if you will. Still now, whenever I come back from Munich, my suitcase is stuffed full of meat! And I've passed that on - my son was such a foodie when he was a baby, and still is a decade later - it must be in the genes!
Choose a motto: eat to live, or live to eat?
That's easy: I definitely live to eat! I love food; I love to look and appreciate well-presented food; I love the ambience you can create at a beautifully crafted repast; and I obsess over really wonderful quality ingredients.
Can you name a meal that changed your life?
It wasn't a meal so much as a place. Somerset House changed my life. It was there that I learned how moving it could be to create these special moments in people's lives - whether it was for a wedding or a corporate client. It was - and still is - about creating the perfect, ambient occasion. It's like setting a stage really well and watching your play go smoothly.
What would you have for your last supper?
I think for your last supper you have to go back to your roots. For me, that would mean typical Bavarian food: oven-roasted pork belly filled with brezel dough. Simple and unbeatable in my book.
What would you cook for a romantic dinner for two?
You know, when you work with food and you spend your whole life planning, sometimes cheese on toast with a really good glass of wine can be the most romantic thing. In fact, it's utter bliss.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what ingredients could you not live without?
Malden sea salt and Austrian pumpkin oil. I could live on them, plus all the fruit that would no doubt abound on my island.
Is there a food that you can't bear?
Black pudding. And I'm not big on kidney or heart. I once had a boyfriend whose mother loved cooking heart - I had to feign a stomach bug to get out of eating it without being rude!
What's your favourite kitchen utensil?
The pestle and mortar; I can't get enough spice in my life and I totally revel in crushing them and playing with different aromas.
What is your dream?
Both personally and professionally, it is to decamp to the Italian coast and just spend a month touring its amazing food markets. All those exquisite ingredients would give such food for thought. I'd probably come back a stone heavier but completely content.