New London Street Food Market – a Q&A with founder Mike Norledge

Hartland Pies (available to buy at Primrose Hill Market, sister to the new Hampstead Food Market starting this weekend)

Hartland Pies (available to buy at Primrose Hill Market, sister to the new Hampstead Food Market starting this weekend)

Boom! Hampstead’s getting a new food market, folk.

So what’s the deal?

In short, the new London street food and produce market is run by the same people behind the successful Primrose Hill market, so there will be a mix of fresh produce and hot street food to take away.

I’m particularly looking forward to breakfast muffins from The Muffin Man & Co, bulging sandwiches from Sub Cult, trying whatever’s new from my new favourite sushi burger (!) makers, Sticky Bundits, and probably everything from the van serving excellent British foraged street food, The Roadery.

Mike Norledge is the man behind the market. He has a colourful and action-packed CV, having trained as an actor at drama school and then worked on the New Forest Cider stall in Borough Market. After this he worked in marketing for numerous tech start ups and, whilst living in Primrose Hill at the time, decided that the local school would be a great location for a community market, one that would provide produce that couldn’t be found elsewhere, and London street food traders. So he got in touch with them and the rest is history. Running the two markets is now his full-time job.

Here he tells me what his plans are for it, and which dish he is most looking forward to trying out.

Q&A: Mike Norledge, founder of Primrose Hill Market and the new Hampstead Food Market

You currently run Primrose Hill Market. When and how did that start?

Primrose Hill Market started in September 2015. I approached St Paul’s School school at the bottom of Primrose Hill about hiring it for a weekly food market. The staff there were very enthusiastic and they’ve been incredibly suportive over the last year. They were keen to anything which engaged with the community and would help them raise funds for the school.

How has Primrose Hill Market changed since it started?

We’ve almost gone full circle and the fruit and veg on sale on our first day in September 2015 is beginning to creep back in again. We used to gauge the market’s success by the number of people who attended – the first day it was over 5000 – but we now gauge by the high volume of repeat custom; local residents have been overwhelmingly supportive and come week in week out. The main thing that has changed is the relationships between the traders, and also the atmosphere which keeps getting better and better. The market attracts a variety of customers – there are lots of families, tourists wondering down from Primrose Hill, dog walkers, celebrities, people walking out with a box of Crosstown Doughnuts or even their entire weekly shop!

Do you enjoy what you do?

I love it! We’re a year in and I’m still learning. Knowing we are only as good as our last market day keeps me on my toes… I particularly enjoy discovering new companies and traders and giving them their first chance and seeing them sell out on their first day. Seeing first hand the passion our traders have for they do, and hearing locals tell me how much they appreciate the market is really rewarding. Then seeing chidlren (and their parents!) discover something they’ve never heard of such as Hook and Son’s milk is great to see.

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Fresh tomatoes at Hampstead Food Market, opening this Saturday

For the new Saturday market in Hampstead, you are in charge of curating the line-up of traders. What do you look for in a good trader?

First and foremost it’s having an excellent product, second to that would be being an excellent person! I think our customers come back as much for the person behind the stall as they do what they’re buying. So we look at stall presentation, knowledgable and enthusiastic staff. A social media presence also helps, and awards and experience trading within markets is also high up there.

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Cured British meats will be available at Hampstead Food Market, opening this Saturday

How do you get the right mix of traders?

My approach has been to make sure we’ve covered everything you might need for your weekly shop and not duplicate products or stalls so the customer isn’t confused about where their loyalty lies. That said we have a large amount of fruit and veg from three traders – Wild Country Organics, Brockman’s Farm and Ted’s Veg. The abundance of fruit and veg when you walk in the market has actually helped us be seen as a produce market mainly which has lead people to do ther weekly shop instead of just grabbing a bite to eat.

Do potential traders come to you or vice versa?

We get a high number of applications from potential traders every week, particularly from street food traders. Many come recommended from other traders.

Where exactly is the site?

The site is Hampstead Parochial School, which is opposite Hampstead Station and behind the Everyman Cinema. We secured the site with numerous emails and meetings with the school. The reputation we have with St Paul’s School in Primrose Hill helped.

Are you approaching things differently to how you went about Primrose Hill? What will be different about Hampstead?

In terms of marketing, I’ve been concious of trying to replicate what we did before opening Primrose Hill Market. I guess one thing I’m doing differently is trying to engage with everyone who comes to the market and finding out what they like and what they don’t like so we can work to create something which is of value to everyone.

Finally, which dish are you most looking forward to eating every Saturday morning at Hampstead?

The dish I look forward the most is the fresh pasta I’ll take home from Pastificio Mansi. Emanuela’s pasta and home made pesto is the best I’ve ever tried. My dish of the morning would be a Muffin Man & Co breakfast muffin.

Hampstead Market starts this Saturday, and will run every Saturday from 10am-3pm at Hampstead Parochial School, Holly Bush Vale, NW3 6TX; hampsteadmarket.com; @HampsteadMKT

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London Street Foodie is an ever-growing guide to the best places to eat London street food. There's a lot of street food waiting to be discovered right now; we'd like to help nudge you towards the good stuff.