So it’s definitely really cold outside at the moment. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t say I’ve been out raving much of late, due to a strong desire to just sit in bed and do absolutely nothing. What I have done, however, is sit on a rooftop for several hours, at night, having dinner. Not as barmy as it sounds, my friends: for this was a night at Forza Win(ter), and it was a rooftop full of hot cocktails, blankets, music, incredible food, a whole load of very happy, chatting (and singing) people and, most importantly- big-ass heaters.
Forza Wint(ter) is the wintry sibling of Forza Win, a rooftop pop-up pizza restaurant that kicked up a fuss this summer on the supper-club scene. Fonduta is the word on the street this season, however, (not to be mistaken for Fondue, albeit v. similar), with Sebastian (Bash) Redford and his team of chefs whipping up bowls of delicious molten cheese and all sorts of wonderful dishes of dippy food-stuffs. A “Buttered Rum”, served to us by resident musician-turned-waiter for the evening Josh, was a wonderful warming greeting in a glass, of Harry Potter-ish magic. Once seated at large, round, conversation-making tables, big steaming pots of creamy Fonduta were placed ceremoniously in the centre, and the dipping commenced!
Our cheesy extravaganza featured beautiful slices of melt-in-the-mouth butternut squash, hearty wedges of sour dough and hackney cobbler, roasted tomatoes, paprika-fried cauliflower (who knew cauliflower could be so enticing?), and lovely parsnips; all ready to be dipped into bowls of hot melty greatness from the pot that was never empty. I must note that my account is vegetarian-biased: there was also ham- slow cooked for four hours- which my neighbour assured me was superb; and meatballs, which were devoured at a pace that would indicate they too were well received.
The evening ended with bluesy theatrical ballads from musicians Howe, some fantastic ice-cream in fresh mint and salted caramel flavours (I was totally won over by the caramel) from artisan gelato chefs Gelupo.
Once I’d recovered from my cheese-hangover, I caught up with Bash to discover the secrets of a supper-club genius…
Hello Bash. Tell us a little about the conception of Forza Win. Had you done anything like it before?
No, I’d spent seven years in marketing, trying to sell others people stuff, and thought it about time I did something of my own. I had put on pop up gallery things about 5 years prior, and the odd party here and there but ultimately I liked supper clubs and had a decent sized garden in New Cross – I’d been threatening to build a pizza oven in there for about three years and when I finally got round to it, we ended up getting really carried away and starting on a rooftop instead!
Was the pizza oven hard to make, or is it something we could all knock-out in our backyards?
It’s not a particularly hard thing to do, there are loads of great online instructions but you need to know your way around bricklaying, cement, vermiculite. We didn’t, so we enlisted the help of one of the greatest men I have ever met – Terry Edwards, who runs the ‘UK Woodfired Oven Forum’.
How do you acquire the rooftop spaces?
We use grappling hooks, mainly – send a crack team of balaclava’d pizza and fondue ninja’s up there to case the joint, then we start cooking great food and tell the owners of said rooftop they can eat free for 3 months if they don’t tell the cops. That’s not true. A lot of hard work and negotiation!
Why fondue? Was it your mum reminiscing about 70s fondue parties that made you think it was time for a comeback?
Something like that. No, the name came before the cuisine, and it’s FONDUTA – not fondue, they are very different things. It’s an awesome sharing thing, it tastes amazing, and is great for Winter. And nobody had ever done it before, I guess that’s why.
Apologies- Fonduta. (Should really do my research a little better…) Where do you source your food from? And what measures do you take to keep Forza green and eco-friendly?
We source everything from the UK! We use the Ginger Pig for our meats, Gelupo for our Gelato, E5 Bakehouse for our breads (they are all f*cking incredible). Then our vegetables are all UK grown, organic and delicious. They all come from New Covent Garden Market, by way of a really awesome supplier. We make sure all of our food is organic and our wines biodynamic – we waste nothing.
So how do you manage that? You serve up a hell of a lot of food!
Anything that is left over is either eaten by staff, or my cats. I’m really anal about stuff like this, I hate waste, so we try to ensure that as little as possible makes its way to the bin. We have three different types of bin bag too, it’s a little annoying but you have to start somewhere!
What do you predict is the future of the “pop-up” scene?
Camel-back restaurants – they will be all the rage in 2013. I’m not really one for questions like this, I read one of London’s really well known bar/ restaurant owners’ predictions the other day and it was really obvious that he was just predicting all the stuff he was going to open. It put me off answering questions like that.
Fair enough. There’s barely a month left for Forza Win(ter) bookings. Can we expect you back for the summer?
Basic plan is to re-open Forza Win come end of May/ beginning of June, then potentially two other much larger scale projects alongside. Then same again in the Winter.
Another reason to look forward to summer…
Book your slot for Forza Win(ter) here: http://forzawin.com/ and if you’ve lucked out this winter, keep an eye out for their summer bookings!