Thomasina Miers | Wahaca

2 minutes with Thomasina Miers
Occupation: Food writer, Author, Restaurateur, Sustainability Warrior, Mother
Restaurants: Wahaca Group
Age: 40
Lives: London, UK

Co-founder of the Wahaca group of restaurants across England, Tommi is making a huge impact with her vibrant Mexican food and sustainable ethos. Juggling 20+ restaurants would be challenging enough but she also writes for The Guardian, does the odd TV spot and loves nothing more than hanging with her three gorgeous girls and husband Mark in their veggie garden. 

When did you discover your passion for food? 
Very early on.  Toys left me cold but pans and sauces really fired me up.   I would sit up on a stool next to my mother and learn as much as I could about what she was doing.

How did you come up with the idea for Wahaca? 
I went to Mexico on my gap year expecting I don’t know what, only to discover this wonderful country full of the most exciting, delicious regional food. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about it, about the biodiversity, the wealthy of amazing ingredients, and the sheer flavours.

What's a normal day in the life of Tommi?  
I wake up at about 6am and normally do a bit of writing and emails before the girls wake up at 7am.  I then shower and get them dressed and we all have breakfast together.  I take them to school then scoot off to Wahaca for meetings or menu development.  I work from home two days a week when I write my column in the Guardian or work on other projects, like the Open Air Classroom Project, a charitable project involving building a large garden classroom in my local primary school.  I normally lunch at one of my restaurants, trying to keep an eye on our food standards and in the evenings I will either be out trying a new restaurant with friends or in, testing new recipes for my latest book.

You have 3 kids, how do you engage them with food and your sustainable ethics? 
Having a third was real dilemma for us in terms of the world population!  In the end it happened all by itself.  But we grow our own vegetables in our small backyard garden, we shop at the local market for food and we spend quite a lot of time in the outdoors.  We eat a lot of vegetables and treat meat and fish as treats for the weekends. I don’t browbeat them – they are too young – I guess I hope they will pick up a love for food, ingredients and the planet intravenously through the way we live our lives.

What do you do as a family on your days off? 
We do a lot of hanging out, being quite spontaneous with what we are doing – we might suddenly decide to go and see an exhibition, or go swimming, or for a bicycle ride.  We might go away to the countryside for the weekend, invite some friends round for lunch or go to Hampstead Heath.  My husband and I both work quite hard so we try not to book our weekends up too heavily – it is good to have some space and free time to let life just flow…

You can follow Thomasina on Instagram @thomasinamiers




Tommi in wahaca.jpg

Patricia Niven

Photography by Sarah Winman

Photography by Sarah Winman

2 minutes with Patricia Niven
Occupation: Food and Portrait Photographer
Age: 40
Lives: London

You're a Brisbane girl, how did you end up in London?
Since I was 12, I knew I would end up in London! So many stories from my parents who lived in London in the late 1950s & 60’s somehow burnt their way into my fate.

I studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photography in Brisbane & did work placement in Sydney in between my first & second years of study. This practical environment gave me incredible clarity & helped me understand everything I’d been learning in the previous year in such a practical way. I did another year of study but at the end of the second year of the degree moved to Sydney to take up work opportunities with the studio I’d interned at (thank you Richard Peake!). This soon led to me running another studio (thank you Richard Ludbrook!) which had a lot of international people passing through…  I had a UK passport thanks to both my parent’s ancestry & came to understand the freedom this allowed me to travel & find my way in the world.

What was the light bulb moment where you decided food photography was want you wanted to do?
There really is a moment! In 2012, I was coming back from a weekend in the beautiful Bunya Mountains with my parents & we popped into the Mary Ryan Bookshop in Toowoomba. I picked up (& bought!) ‘Antonio & Lucia - Recipes and stories from my Australian - Calabrian kitchen’ by Riccardo Momesso published by Plum with incredible images by John Laurie & fantastic design by Michelle Mackintosh. This book changed everything for me! I saw images that I could relate to & text I believed in & realised there might be the possibility of finding a path for me in this wonderful world of food.

Describe a typical day for you on a shoot for a cookbook?
Usually quite an early start (especially if shooting in Australia!) with some coffee & great local bakery treats. The amazing team of home economists & stylists make glorious food appear on wonderful plates & bowls & I climb up ladders & down ladders & move the camera in potentially satisfactory positions & at the end of the day we have created 8 or 10 beautiful images!

Where do you take your friends from out-of-town to eat in London?
Pretty much every time St. JOHN Restaurant. My partner Sarah & I live around the corner from the Smithfields restaurant & it is our default setting for good days, bad days, birthdays, holidays… Also, the wonderful Honey & Co. on Warren Street in Fitzrovia, The Marksman on Hackney Road, The Quality Chop House in Farringdon and Portland on Great Portland Street.

What's your tips for aspiring photographers to get noticed?
In the wise words of Grayson Perry - Be nice, put in the hours & turn up on time. And from David Bailey - Be yourself & wear comfortable shoes.

You travel a lot for your work, what is always in your suitcase?
Power adaptor plugs (ideally for the country I’m travelling to!), Bose noise cancelling headphones, barley grass powder & Mokosh moisturiser (it’s Australian & amazing!).

You can follow Patsy on Instagram @patricianiven