Photo: Maltby Street Market 

Photo: Maltby Street Market 

Last Sunday I met my friend Nick at the bustling Malthby Street Market on Rope Walk in Southwark. Even though it’s been open since 2010 I had never heard of it and to be honest it took me awhile to find it. We ended up driving around for a while but finally spotted the corridor filled with food stalls nestled down an alleyway. What a find it was! I got some great inspiration looking at the wide variety of food on offer, from aged steak and oysters to waffles and preserves.

My style of cooking is French, innovating when needed, but it can be described as ‘Cuisine du marché’ (market cooking). This means that I have no idea what I will be cooking on any given day until I find my star ingredient and build a recipe around it. This is why during the filming of Masterchef: The Professionals, I often got up at the crack of dawn to go to Billingsgate Fish Market or Barrow Market for inspiration. It might be that artichokes are in season and looking great or there is a new snail supplier that I want to try or I simply find a great piece of pollock which would go well with confit chicken wings.

The market is scattered alongside Ropewalk Lane and there are permanent cafes and bars, such as St John Bread and Wine, under the railway arches of the viaduct for the London to Greenwich railway which was built, apparently using 40,000,000 bricks, in the 1800s. There are also stalls housed in timber sheds (rather large ones) which is really cool as you eat where the carpenters from the would normally create their magic.

One of those is Bagley’s, the brainchild of Keith, a lovely grey haired man who is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate person I have ever met about oysters. I started my career shucking oysters so I know a thing or two about the mollusc. Keith is a perfectionist and I was shocked to find that he had a water bath on his market pitch for his slow cooked salmon that goes into a beautiful sweet, silky Laksa.

Of course, his oysters are shucked with military precision and served the way I was taught with a shallot and vinegar side and the perfect accompaniment-a glass of white wine from the Loire.

The great thing about Maltby Street Market is the variety of food, from barbeque to amazing fish, from chocolate brownies (made by a Dragon’s Dens contestant) to the tastiest waffles I have had since visiting my auntie in Belgium. It is refreshing, and yes my friends, there is more to life than pulled pork, pulled chicken and pulled squid!

As I walked down the busy alley Nick introduced me to Eddie who runs, cooks and breathes waffles. Eddie used to be in the music business but left that to develop the best waffles this side of the ocean and I think he succeeded. The man is a waffle expert, he knows everything about them from choosing the right plates for pressing to the perfect temperature and of course the perfect bake.

I am a greedy chef and I just had to try a few of Eddie’s creations. The blueberry and goat cheese waffle was not something that I thought I would like but it really worked, the earthiness and richness of the goat cheese married with the sweetness of the blueberries was just genius. The fried chicken which had been seasoned with a secret blend of spices had a spicy kick and was moist and crispy, it worked beautifully with the knob of butter that is served with it and a gooey, buttery, caramelised waffle.

Eddie & His Waffle Team

Eddie & His Waffle Team

There is not a lot more I can say as I have eaten far too much and we are driving back to our new found heaven. If anything just head to Maltby Street Market and treat yourselves, this a secret that will not stay that way very long.

Leave your food guides behind and forget about textures of vegetables, meat foams and drags, this is real food.