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Maltby Street wins Observer Food Monthly award

London SE1 website team

The group of food producers trading from railway arches in Bermondsey on a Saturday morning has been named 'best newcomer' at the Observer Food Monthly Awards.

Maltby Street wins Observer Food Monthly award

The award was given by a judging panel that included Nigel Slater, Angela Hartnett, Jay Rayner and Thomasina Miers.

It all started when Monmouth Coffee opened the doors of its Maltby Street roastery for a few hours a week.

"We though we would open up our warehouse doors on a Saturday morning to sell bags of coffee," says Anita Le Roy of Monmouth Coffee.

"I guess almost by accident we now have quite a large group of food producers who are baking, cheese-making, brewing beer, fruit and vegetables, making pasta..."

Collectively known as 'Maltby Street', the cluster of food businesses now extends to Druid Street, Stanworth Street and beyond.

The Maltby Street cluster includes the Kernel Brewery and St John Bakery. Gergovie Wines has recently launched a restaurant called 40 Maltby Street.

Anita Le Roy explains the appeal of Maltby Street: "I think on the whole people love to be closer to the place where their food is being produced, and they are always fascinated by the processes as well.

"It's exciting and much more real to see the vat that the cheese you are eating has been made in."

Of the community of producers, she says: "We have the same enthusiasms for producing good food; the best quality food we can all produce. That's what binds us together."

She adds: "There isn't really a big plan. I think we're just going to continue doing what we are doing. The enthusiasm is boundless."

The success of the loosely-organised Maltby Street businesses was seen as one of the factors behind the eviction of eight traders from Borough Market earlier this year, although the market's then chairman denied that he was worried by the competition.

Some of the displaced traders have begun to return to Borough Market: Borough Cheese Company and Kappacasein are now trading again at both locations.

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