London is indisputably one of the best places in the world for food, culture and diversity – just ask the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. We were lucky enough to get five minutes with the newly re-elected politician and pick his brains about how the hospitality industry has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Sadiq has invested £6million into the new Let's Do London campaign, and phase one, London Eats, is officially underway. Joined by MasterChef judge Monica Galetti and Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE, the London Mayor hopes to encourage Brits to flock to the West End this summer and make the most of the rich culinary scene available on our doorstep.
Read on to discover Sadiq Khan's food secrets, top London restaurants to book now restrictions have eased and why he thinks the pandemic will make us kinder as a city – oh, and his dream royal guest to have a chat with over dinner!
Sadiq Khan launched London Eats with the help of Monica Galetti and Angela Hartnett MBE
What makes the London food scene so unique?
I'm really proud and excited to be launching London Eats today. We've got some of the world's greatest food and drink in our city. This spring and summer in particular, when Londoners and those across the country can't go on foreign holidays, come to London - you can have the world. Whether it's Chinese food, Japanese food, Indian food, Pakistani food, South Korean food, vegan, vegetarian, you've got it all in London. What we're trying to do is to encourage Londoners and those across the country to come to the West End!
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What are the London restaurants you can't wait to get back to?
(We spoke to Mr. Khan at midday and he confessed he was already on his third meal of the day!)
Detailing his dream dining destinations, Sadiq said: "My first meal of the day was breakfast at Dishoom at 8am this morning next to Leicester Square, then I had a brunch at Dumplings' Legend in Chinatown, and I'm speaking to you from the first floor of Mildreds, having a great vegan early lunch!
"I love eating out and one of the joys of London is that you can eat out [often], that's why I'm going to Gordon Ramsay's Heddon Street Kitchen tonight. I've really missed it."
The Mayor of London shared his best London eats with us
If you could take one royal on a London dinner date, who would it be?
"It's got to be Prince Charles. I've met Charles many times, he's great company. What people don't realise is that he's got a quite mischievous sense of humour, but he's also a real scholar when it comes to religion and he's big on the environment.
"Whenever I've met him, we're never lost for things to talk about. When you're the mayor, you meet lots of people and sometimes you're a bit nervous about what to talk about, but with His Royal Highness, there's so much to talk about. I've seen him a couple of times during the pandemic and he's done a great job thanking NHS, transport workers, and many others. He would be my royal date of choice!"
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Our HELLO! to Kindness campaign is all about spreading positivity - how important do you think kindness is for London's recovery as a city?
"People who are not from London often think we're always too busy and that we're not kind to each other – and it's not true. I think we showed in the last 14 months how kind we are, whether it's NHS workers, those who work in shops, those who work in transport, those who work in our faith communities, teachers etc... We are a kind city.
Sadiq Khan said Prince Charles has a 'mischievous sense of humour'
"I believe the way you judge somebody is by their kindness, particularly in tough times. Simply asking the question, 'How are you doing?', that's an act of kindness. It shows empathy and what it's like to walk in someone's shoes. I think [HELLO! to Kindness] is a great campaign and now more than ever is when we should be walking the walk and showing our kindness."
Do you think London can bounce back from the hit the hospitality industry has taken?
"Yes, absolutely based upon the evidence I've seen and because of our history. The city has bounced back from plagues, fires, the Blitz, terrorist attacks and so forth, and I'm sure it will bounce back from the combination of Brexit and this awful pandemic. Why? Look at the evidence of the last 14 months. Our stoicism, our resilience, our can-do attitude, our kindness. And also, we've got in London our diversity, which is a strength, not a weakness.
The newly re-elected Mayor urges Londoners to support their local restaurants
"But also our ability to attract global talent. We haven't just got the best hospitality in the world, we've got the best professional services, we've got the best culture, the best tech, the best digital, the best universities. That ecosystem is giving me so much confidence we're going to bounce back.
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"I spent this morning with MasterChef judge Monica Galetti but also Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett. Just speaking to them about some of the plans that they've got, I am so confident that our restaurants, pubs, bars are coming back stronger.
"Our job though, is to support them by going to visit them, spending our money there, having a safe time there. That's the way we can help hospitality bounce back and have a good time at the same time."
The Mayor of London’s year-long Let’s Do London campaign, which aims to bring people back into the capital, kicks off its focus on the city’s diverse food and drink offering with London Eats. For more information visit: visitlondon.com/things-to-do/lets-do-london.