Bel-Air has become one of the trendiest areas in London for food-lovers.‘Feel good fast food’… that’s the promise from Bel-Air, a nutritional haven located on Paul Street in foodie-central Shoreditch, East London. The South-African founder, Andrew Bredon, has lent his entrepreneurial spirit to multiple start-ups (including Secret Escapes and Deal Checker) in a packed career that now sees him running the lightest and brightest food establishment in East London. We had a chat with Hackney-based Andrew to find out more about his journey and Bel-Air’s wholesome offerings.
Getting to Know Andrew
Tell us about life before London…
I moved to the UK from Australia when I was only twenty-two, and prior to opening Bel-Air I worked mainly in tech, co-founding such companies as dealchecker.co.uk and secretescapes.com. I’ve also worked with various start-ups over the years, which I’ve really enjoyed; the tech industry is actually rather similar to working in food –very fast paced and full of challenges.
What spurred your jump from the world of tech to the world of food?
I lived in Los Angeles in California for some of 2013 after vowing not to spend another winter in rainy London. When I got back to the UK, I just couldn’t leave the sun and the lifestyle behind. I’d fallen in love with LA’s experimental pop-ups, food trucks, healthy outdoor living and farmers markets and when I simply couldn’t find anything resembling that in the UK, I decided then to open Bel-Air; bringing a slice of LA’s feel-good vibes and healthy food back to London.
What aspects of Californian life have you brought to Shoreditch?
California has got it so right – well sourced, beautiful ingredients. They’re all about bold favours and ever-present sunshine. We’ve tried to embody that vibe in every sense at Bel-Air, from our bountiful salads to our home on Paul Street with its sunny yellow and white striped awning.
Have you dealt with major challenges in the opening of Bel-Air?
In our first few weeks we were admittedly a little overwhelmed – queues were out the door! Over time, we’ve worked out how to manage the queue and how to cope with the demand for our food. Our Aubergine Salad, for example, has become quite the favourite, so we make sure to never let that one run out!
How difficult has it been to stand out?
Shoreditch is constantly evolving, and we’re really lucky that we’ve managed to find a niche and hold on to it in an area such as this. We like to change up our menu often so our regulars always have something new to try.
What makes entrepreneurs effective in their working day?
I think entrepreneurs and city-workers in particular are now understanding that nutritious food can set you up for a day so much more effectively – especially in terms of brainpower, energy and clear focus. People are realising more and more nowadays that their bodies are worth the short-term investment for long-term health. It’s clear people definitely want to live healthier, and therefore often, happier lives.
Rebel Wrap Up
What can someone expect from Bel Air?
For breakfast, you can go for Courgette Hash and Muscle Beach with grilled steak, smoky spinach, sweet potato hash and organic poached egg or Bel-Air’s granola pot and Almond milk porridge. We’ve just launched our autumn lunch menu, with warming dishes such as Vietnamese Pork Meatballs and Miso Glazed Sweet Potato with a yuzu yoghurt dressing.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My family has certainly had a big part to play; great food and fresh produce were really an instrumental part of my childhood. My mum is an absolutely fantastic cook. She was always trying out new flavour combinations. We were also a really active family too, plenty of surfing and many cricket matches in the backyard. And L.A, of course, my big inspiration and catalyst in opening Bel-Air.
Are there any plans to expand or grow the Bel-Air brand?
There is definitely a lot more of London that needs a taste of some LA sunshine – so let’s hope so! We are currently working hard on fundraising, as our plan right now is to expand outwards from our base in Shoreditch. Also make sure to keep an eye out for a new, healthy dinner offering which we hope to launch in early 2016.