See the original Birdfeed Issue here.
This week, Bird founder, Vic North, gives us the skinny on shaking things up, responding to a need, and wearing it well...
"It all began, as many things do, micro. In my case, in a micro-bakery. I remember stepping over the threshold of a local producers’ market, a cavernous space somehow in the middle of town. Cool, blistered concrete slapped underfoot as growers bustled and hustled. Vegetables caught in baskets, rounds of cheese scaled for sale and the smell of bacon sizzling for sandwiches on a hot griddle. I thought to myself, I need to be a part of this. So, like my mother before me, I set up a stall and began selling bread and cakes. I made sourdough loaves and hand-rolled croissants. I made gluten-free pasties and spun a yarn around a name. I loved it.
Better Is Possible
"The venture grew into a cafe, which grew into a bistro and I was busy. Too busy. So I stepped back, reconnected with my kids, and began to write. I needed to figure out how women juggled their many-faceted lives, especially once kids came into the mix. I began to write about women in food, telling their stories and sharing their challenges based on interviews I held with female chefs and cooks all over the UK. Then a penny dropped. I visited a friend who runs a cafe by the beach, not far from here. We were chatting about how hard it is to find something decent to wear in the kitchen – how we’d trashed all our good clothes by working in them, splashed with oil and hard to wash. We wanted to look smart and feel in our element whilst at work. She produced a sherbet pink chef shirt and said, what do you think? I thought, I can do better than this.
Kit For Pioneers
"Here’s the dilemma. Chef shirts are mainly designed for guys. Put a woman in it and we feel boxy, lumpy and invisible. We all know how the right clothes can make you feel good, can make you feel confident, can make you feel in your power. Why not in the kitchen?
"I want to do things differently as many women are doing already. Women are increasingly setting up kitchens and running them on their own terms. I want to give these pioneers the clothes to reflect this confidence and assertiveness. We don’t’ have to be treated as second class employees. Let’s set up our own system, rather than trying to fix the old. And let’s do it in style.
"Then there are the cooks. What about the cooks who don’t belong to a brigade? It feels odd to don chef whites if you are not part of the culture. But your working life still makes the same demands on you. You need clothes that are easy to move in, comfortable, washable, smart, and that ultimately make you feel good. “I’m always looking for black tee shirts,” said Catrin. We can do better than that. The tunic.
"The apron is there to pull it all together. We’ve designed to sit right with the neckline of the tunic and whites, designed with work in mind and ease of use. And colour! Who says we can’t be colourful and have some fun with our workwear?
"That’s the story thus far. Shaking things up, responding to a need, and wearing it well."
THIS WEEK'S TREASURES
1. "I don’t believe in being a bystander, I always step up.” From fighting cancer to fighting climate change, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn is both changing and saving the world. Hero.
2. Last week, we attended a screening of Patagonia's newest film Artifishal. A hard-hitting documentary that reveals humanity's impact on wild fish populations. We think the first step anyone can take in supporting these natural ecosystems is to be informed.
3. Vogue has released their September Issue Cover. With Meghan, Duchess of Sussex as guest editor, and with 15 barrier breakers and change-makers on the cover itself, this edition is going down as iconic.
4. Running + Tomatoes + DIY Tech = Tomatan, a wearable robot that dispenses tomatoes for people to eat while on the go. This made us laugh. As always readers, eat while you run with caution.
5. What exactly is a humane restaurant? And how are women changing restaurant culture forever? Ruth Rogers, of The River Cafe London, tells all in this brilliant Cherry Bombe podcast.
6. ‘If you want to cook well, read well.’ In this Women In Food interview, food writer and chef, Claire Thomson shares doses of wisdom and why she is on a mission to redefine recipe classics for a generation.
7. From seaweed to cacti, here are 50 foods for healthier people and a healthier planet.
8. Top Chef alumni Carla Hall gives a post-mortem on her failed NYC restaurant. Here are her 6 lessons learned.
9. We are so happy this list exists. The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far.
10. FOOD: Bigger than the Plate. From now until the 20th of October at the Victoria & Albert Museum, this exhibition brings together the politics and pleasure of food to figure out how we can have a more sustainable AND delicious future. Visitors have been asked to participate, taste and debate... don't mind if we do!