Alex-Hely Hutchinson, 26 Grains

Food Q&A Workshop

Q&A: Alex Hely-Hutchinson – ‘I want to try sulphurised eggs’

Two years ago Hely-Hutchinson started selling porridge out of a temporary space in Old Street station. She was soon catering for events and businesses and opened a cafe in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, in June 2015.

She has recently brought porridge to movie night, Sunday morning post-yoga breakfasts and fed London marathon runners oaty carbs after the finish line.

1 Sep 2016

What has been the wisest thing anyone has ever told you?

Don’t overestimate how important sleep is. It’s something you think you can do without but you can’t.

What’s the best ever invention?

It’s a cliche but the wheel. I couldn’t survive without my bike. It’s also the wheel mechanism that allows us to split oats when preparing them for porridge.

Does modern capitalism work?

I studied economics at university. I learnt that it should work and, generally, I think it does. The problem in Britain is that we focus too much on the individual. If you look at Scandinavian countries, which are capitalist but have the most encompassing welfare systems, there seems to be much more willingness to be part of a wider society, where people say they are happy paying taxes.

What would you go big on if you became PM?

Education. My mum is a school teacher and my dad works for Teach First. Education provides opportunities and ultimately boosts health, welfare and wider society.

What would you outlaw?

Electronic communications after 9pm. The pressure of constantly being on call can break you.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

Bill Withers, Graham Norton and Joanna Newsom.

If you didn’t need money, what would you do?

Travel, cycle, walk, eat, cook, sing, dance.

Where’s your bucket-list destination?

Japan. The food they have there is crazy; I want to try sulphurised eggs even though they must smell terrible.

One thing that you’ve eaten, watched and visited recently that you’d recommend?

Eat: Blue Hill, New York. Watch: Calvary. Visit: Bavaria.

When and where would you like to go in our time machine?

I’m not sure I like this one. I don’t really want to see the future and wherever you go into the past, things are worse for women – we’ve come a long way in women’s rights in the past couple of decades. But I would like to experience the everyday routines of people from different decades.

If we hit ‘most listened to’ on your music collection what would come up?

Chet Baker.

What’s your death-row meal/restaurant?

A cheeseboard with all the trimmings. Neal’s Yard Dairy is the most dangerous neighbour.

Do you have any regrets?

My only regret will probably be if I don’t live in another country again.

What’s your ultimate goal?

To create something that is simple, that works really well and that I’m incredibly proud of and which isn’t a vanity project.

This story first appeared in Courier June/July 2016.