You go, girl - Bianca Bridges
SALOME tribe is all about strong womanhood and girl power all around the world. This time, we would like to introduce you to one of the ultimate SALOME girls Bianca Bridges, the founder of Breakfast London, an author, and an absolute girl boss!
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born in Sydney, grew up in Singapore and live in London. I was a food blogger while I was at University – the blog was called Pretty Hungry (prettyhungry.me) and it won the title of Cosmopolitan UK Best Food Blog 2015! I’m the founder of Breakfast London, my media company that promotes the best of breakfast and brunch in the city, and I published my first book last year, Breakfast London: Where Real Londoners Eat (Ebruy Press, Penguin Random House). I’m also co-founder of Good Belly Pizza and The Jungle Collective hospitality group – we operate The Railway Tavern N16 in Dalston. It’s always a bit of a mouthful whenever someone asks what I do!
Up until recently, I’ve also worked as a freelance social media consultant and manager. I’m a big fan of pyjamas, dinner parties, and my boxer dog named Pickles!
Have you always been this entrepreneurial girl boss you are now?
I have! I love creating and starting new project, and have done ever since I was young. I feel like I’m always bursting with new ideas and spotting trends – there’s no better feeling than watching them come to life. I’ll catch myself brainstorming on my own when I’m not doing anything, and my favourite conversations are usually hikes with my sister, partner or friends that turn into a business brainstorm session!
Breakfast London. How and why did you start it?
Like my blog, I also started Breakfast London while I was at University, but in my third year instead of my first. Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day (I’ll eat pancakes for dinner sometimes!) and when I thought of starting the Instagram account, it was a time when breakfast was suddenly exploding in London – new cafes and restaurants were opening that were breakfast/brunch focused, and established restaurants were also starting to introduce breakfast and brunch menus. The influences of café culture from Australia and New Zealand, as well as bottomless brunches from the US, were inspiring tons of new concepts in London.
It was difficult to keep track of all the new openings, and at that time, there weren’t any Instagram accounts that were breakfast-focused in London. I found myself wishing that there was somewhere that held all of that information, and instead of waiting for someone to do it, I thought, “Why don’t I just do it?”. It grew quickly – everyone loves breakfast, especially in one of (if not the best) city in the world!
With over 276,000 followers on Instagram, Breakfast London is now a media company that is not only on social media, but has a website, book, events, contributing team and more!
What’s your favourite breakfast?
This is the question I get asked most by people! I always say it depends on the occasion and location. One of my favourite spots in London is right next to my pub – it’s called Brunswick East, and it’s run by two sisters from Melbourne. The menu is super innovative, the coffee is fantastic and I’ve always left with my plate clean and a big smile on my face.
I cook a lot of breakfast at home as well – a lot of fancy porridges (I’m currently loving roasted plums, coconut yoghurt, crushed toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup!), wild mushrooms on toast (usually on The Dusty Knuckle’s white potato sourdough) and toasted crumpets topped with avocado and sea salt.
“I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many aspirational and hard-working people, like my family, friends and partner, who influence me to be the same – remember, you are the equivalent of who you surround yourself with!”
Good belly – tell me more?
Good Belly Pizza is our pizza company, which serves unbelievably delicious American-style pizza that just happens to be vegan. The toppings are innovative and mouthwatering – think truffle mac and cheese on a pizza, and buffalo cauliflower with almond ricotta and ranch drizzle. We wanted to create pizza so good that people would forget or celebrate the fact that its vegan.
Myself, my partner Luke and our friend Mark actually started this in my garage, which we transformed into an operating and licensed kitchen. It was delivery-only while we were running it there, and delivery drivers would always be confused when picking up orders from a residential home for the first time! Even though we’d come home tired from our 9-5 jobs, we’d turn on the music, prep and make pizzas until we closed late in the evenings.
We would host our friends for dinner with score cards to taste test our menu, and when orders were slow, we’d play cards and the winner wouldn’t have to clean the kitchen after service. That’s why we always say Good Belly Pizza has been made by friends since 2018.
After taking over The Railway Tavern N16, we put in Good Belly Pizza as a kitchen residency, so it finally has a physical space that customers can visit! We previously had customers who lived outside the delivery area either waiting outside a nearby store to collect it, or ordering it to their car parked on a nearby street, so it’s great that people can actually book a table in the warmth and watch our chefs cook!
Do you have any tips for starting blogging & not giving up on it?
Make sure you love what you’re writing about, which means you’ll never get bored of it! It’s also okay if you want to experience change – you just need to keep your audience involved in your decisions and they will feel like they’re growing alongside you. When I went vegan, I did a post informing my readers on my decision, and letting them know that although I would be posting about vegan food from now on, it’s reassuring to them that it’s still me – not everything about me has changed! It also gives them a chance to understand me and to be educated on something important to me.
Most importantly, don’t feel embarrassed or let what other people think (or the fear of what other people might think) influence what you write. If you’re interested and excited about it, chances are that there are people out there who would be interested and excited about it too.
Your book - tell me about this journey?
I was speaking on a social media panel, and an audience question was, “What’s next for Breakfast London? A book?”. At first I thought it was such a silly suggestion – it’s an Instagram account, would a book even work? But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got about what it could be. I worked on a book proposal, landed a book agent (I didn’t let the few ‘no’s’ before the ‘yes’ discourage me) and ended up getting a publishing deal with my dream publisher, Ebury Press (Penguin Random House).
At first it was supposed to be a coffee table book with longer stories on about 30 breakfast spots in London, but it quickly turned into a gorgeous guide book with 124 of the best spots! By chance, I worked with an all-female team who were all unbelievable, from my editor to the designer. It was also an absolute pleasure to work with so many cool independent restaurants and cafes in the city who deserve to be on a platform and be discovered by the masses.
Since I was little, I thought it would be the coolest thing to have a book with your name on it in a bookstore, and my book is for sure one of my proudest accomplishments.
Who are your role models if you have any?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many aspirational and hard-working people, like my family, friends and partner, who influence me to be the same – remember, you are the equivalent of who you surround yourself with!
I also follow lots of female powerhouses on social media like Pandora Sykes, Dolly Alderton, Emily Weiss, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Miranda Makaroff, Charlotte Cho, Christina Tosi, Audrey Gelman and Velda Tan who are all incredibly inspiring.
What is success for you?
Success is achieving a goal I set out for myself, or feeling like I’ve accomplished something great even if it’s not something you can measure. I recently launched a fundraising project, The Lamington Cake Project (projectlamington.com), in aid of the devastating Australian Bushfires. Top chefs and bakers in London create their own version of a lamington cake, the iconic Australian cake, and the public can donate by bidding on each chef’s auction or entering their raffle. The project runs throughout February 2020.
Success for the project would be hitting our target goal for fundraising, where 100% of the proceeds are split between selected Australian charities. But whether or not the target has been hit, continuing to raise awareness for the cause after the media around the issue has started to decrease, and bringing generous, creative people together in the demanding hospitality industry to support this cause, feels like a success in itself.
Any big future plans?
I love working in F&B, but wellness and betterment is something that I’ve been passionate about for years and I’m looking to get into. Watch this space!