10 QUESTIONS WITH: founder of The Bell & Brisket, Bel Shapiro

Bel is the force behind street food venture The Bell & Brisket, currently in permanent residence at The Barley Mow pub in Shoreditch; it's The Duke Bagel that made it onto our list of London Cheap Eats. We had a lovely chinwag with Bel, here's what she had to say.

Bel Shapiro from The Bell & Brisket

Bel Shapiro from The Bell & Brisket

1. Tell us briefly what your business is about

Very good question. I wish I knew! The Bell & Brisket is a modern slant on the old school salt beef bagel. We've basically pimped it up within an inch of its life and reintroduced it to the streets of London.

We started out as a street food operation and now have a permanent home in the kitchen of the Barley Mow in Shoreditch. 

2. Tell us a bit about your background - where you've worked in the past and why you're doing this now.

I trained in Theatre Design and worked a bit as an art director for music videos and bit of TV. A slightly unusual path led from there to street food via working in event production, to launching a new takeaway brand, and then going it alone with The Bell & Brisket.

I'm doing this now mainly because I am probably unemployable! After my last job, I vowed never to work for anyone again. Plus, this is the most creative thing I've ever done in my life.

3. If you were out for an evening in London, where would we most likely find you?

Probably a street food event. Or a colleague's pop-up, or a pub. I spend a lot of time in pubs it seems. Mainly for work and research purposes, you understand.

4. Where did you get the inspiration for your food / menu? 

The original idea was based very much on the traditional East End salt beef bars; I used to serve ox tongue and everything! I started the business as the street food scene was taking off and at the time, no one was doing anything with salt beef bagels. Along the way I met amazing suppliers such as Vadasz Deli whose pickle products made sense beside mine, so a menu started to evolve from there.

5. Tell us an interesting fact about you that not many know.

I suffer from trypophobia (Ed - that's a pathological fear of holes or circular shapes in clusters, for the 99.9% of you wondering).

6. What's the most popular item on your menu?

The Lord Rupert (Ed - with pickled cabbage, dijon mayo, melted Cheddar and dill pickles). Closely followed by The Duke (Ed - with tomato chipotle sauce, pickled onions, melted Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeño sour cream and Hot Roots).

7. What do you eat when you're off work and at home?

My fridge is empty. I am a disgrace. I can be found gnawing on Ryvita and cheese and Branston pickle. Terrible confession of a food trader there.

8. What's next for your business?

I'm concentrating on private events and building the business at The Barley Mow at the moment. The idea of a bricks and mortar premises is always in the back of my head...

9. Which three people, dead or alive, would you invite to dinner?

Jim Henson, Woody Allen, and Tracey Ullman.

10.What’s your favourite #londoncheapeat?

Spit and Roast. They can do no wrong. I have a massive crush on both of them.