Vincent Vegan

Friends Little Joy
It’s always good to have friends who can cook and friends who inspire you, but when you get the two things together and wrap it into a girl gang who are on a mission to push the new food scene in Berlin to the next level, you know you’re onto a winner. If you haven’t heard about Little Joy yet, then you probably don’t like food or have bratwurst shoved in your ears.

 

But let’s roll it back to the beginning. The rapidly growing Little Joy team is headed by three women - Kate Bailey, Alex Adank and Katěrina Jakusová (business, front of house, and head chef respectively) who have so much obvious positivity and love for their work that watching them work is like watching Beyonce shimmying in front of a wind machine. In a classic girl meets girl meets girl meets kitchen success story, they came together to build a business that would improve on what they could see was clearly wrong with the internal processes and practices used in kitchens and front of house systems across the food industry. And - almost more importantly - they decided to work through all this together, contradicting the idea that women en masse cannot peacefully work together, let alone own a business that has already exceeded all expectations in only 8 short months.

Their strongly held beliefs and the new practices they have developed together are evident in all aspects of the Little Joy business, and unlike so many entrepeneurs, they are not afraid to explain in great detail how their business is different, and share their experiences with others looking to develop their own successful food story.

 

Firstly - of course as a customer-facing business - you can read, see, smell and taste what they’re up to, and how they’ve stepped out of the regular flow of recipes and flavour combinations through their menus. Ingredients are carefully selected for seasonality and regional availability, so unlike almost every other brunch in Berlin (and every other capital city in the world right now) you won’t find avocados on a Little Joy plate. Instead, this summer, they opted for a minted pea alternative that perfectly matched the avocado’s ability to provide easy-creamy-adult-babyfood for the hungover brunching weekend Berlin crowds. Choosing well sourced ingredients means you end up having great relationships with fascinating and special farmers and growers, but of course pushes up dish prices. So, in a move to counteract this, the kitchen began a drive to achieve as close to a zero-waste kitchen system as possible. Little things like employing fermenting and churning methods to otherwise left over ingredients adds new depth, flavour qualities, and health benefits to the food as well as keeping the bio bin empty, and the business flowing. It’s the most perfect and pleasing win win win for the diner, the business and the environment. In fact, every great idea in the Little Joy kitchen seems to lead into another practice that improves the efficiency and quality of the operation and the food simultaneously - like any healthy system, the elements and the whole can only survive when they all work together seamlessly.

The benefits of having worked in the industry and made a conscious decision to learn from the example of others and question these examples (rather than follow the age old kitchen tradition of paying forward all the bad practices and often abusive, hierarchical working conditions) can also be seen in any Little Joy run operation. The atmosphere in the kitchen and on the floor is professional, clearly supportive, and always friendly - in fact, the team often seem to be having more fun than anyone else in the room, and somehow that’s not at all annoying, because the Joy is in the name and in the food. Behind the scenes in Little Joy HQ - the “Coven Hole” - there is also a constant push for personal progression through learning, and self-initiated projects are encouraged throughout the business for all team members to take on responsibility and have the space to create something special over which they have full authority. From pickles and preserves and learning the art of pastry; to supper clubs and outward into kitchen-related and social projects, there doesn’t seem to be anything the team are prepared - with the convivial team spirit - to tackle if the idea feels right.

 

Finding yourself sat behind a plate of Little Joy food is easy to achieve. They currently host brunches at multiple - hand selected - cafe spots across Berlin, and are set to open up the market for “boozy brunch” at Das Gift in the coming months. What could be more perfect as the autumn sets in than an afternoon in a bar with delicious food, a Bloody Mary, and some great music? If Brexit wasn’t enough, this Sunday power combo leaves this ex-Londoner with little reason to go back to the UK! But don’t think brunch is all they can do - this was just their opening gambit. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook for the next arms of the business to drop: private catering, office delivery services, workshops and consultation, as well as all forthcoming brunch appointments; plus their Instagram will keep your mouth watering for days.

 

Of course, none of this is worth a damn if the food isn’t delicious. Spoiler alert: it is!

Text and images by Ruth Bartlett