What is World of Zing?
World of Zing brings together the flavours of modern food culture to provide an inspiring array of produce and ingredients for consumers to buy and enjoy at home. The World of Zing range comprises of produce from the country’s most exciting food & drink artisans alongside the essential herbs, spices and seasonings required to cook dishes all the way from Asia to South America. Of course, no meal is complete without a good drink, so World of Zing has taken care of this too with an award-winning range of batched and aged cocktails too.
How long have you been doing what you do?
My friends will tell you that I’m a professional drunkard, in which case I’ve been doing it for about 20 years! However, the bills have been paid with a career as a booze marketing consultant and occasional food & drink writer for over 10 years!
When did you have your eureka moment?
My family have built up a business dating back to 1968 as one of the UK’s leading spice merchants. I was sitting in my dad’s office back in 2010 thinking about how I could evolve the business to appeal to the new generation of food and drink enthusiasts. At the same time, London was experiencing the start of the artisan produce and street food movement, and this provided a huge source of inspiration.
World of Zing actually started out by supplying rare and interesting ingredients to the street food scene, before evolving into a place where consumers could buy all of these amazing ingredients and produce for themselves.
Why did you set it up?
Food & drink has become a total way of life for Londoners. Where and what you eat says as much about you as the clothes you wear and music you listen to.
From the multitude of street food stalls to the new wave of restaurants offering everything from proper burgers to Korean and Peruvian food, London's food & drink scene has never been more exciting, innovative or dynamic. Similarly, creativity in the drinks scene has also developed into what many would argue is the most exciting in the world.
World of Zing gives Londoners an opportunity to recreate all of these amazing flavour experiences at home, whether it’s an awesome hot-sauce to add a touch of zing (sorry, had to say it!) to your everyday dinner, or to impress at a dinner party with recipes using interesting ingredients and awesome cocktails.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running World of Zing?
I would probably still be working in drinks marketing, which is no real hardship really!
Big up someone that you’ve met along the way?
As cheesy as it sounds, World of Zing is a real collaborative project of some of London’s most exciting food & drink minds, so there are so many amazing new people that I have met.
To give you a few names:
- Tom Aske of Fluid Movement has been incredible at translating my madcap drinks ideas into actual awesome reality
- I met Katy Riddle whilst she was doing the marketing for Wapping Market and she has become a great sounding board of general advice as well as helping with the Zing launch
- A special mention goes to the late Wilkes McDermid too. With his incredible knowledge of the London food scene, I spent a lot of time with Wilkes in the early stages of the business eating my way through various food markets in order to curate the perfect line up of products.
Advice for other people looking to start their own thing?
All or nothing. I spent 3 years researching, but it’s only when I left my day job that I was able to focus on establishing what it was that I wanted to achieve with World of Zing. I effectively tore up the old plan and started totally afresh!
If you had a super power what would it be?
There’s soooo much exciting foodie stuff going on in London and I suffer serious FOMO!
So, I guess it would be cool to be able to multiply so that I could be at every cool event and eat & drink everything awesome thing that the city has to offer!
What’s been your biggest achievement?
Personally, it was coming runner-up in the backstroke at my swimming sports day when I was 10 years old – my swimming career pretty much went downhill after that.
Professionally, I’ve worked on many brands and campaigns that have won plenty of awards and achieved success… but the launch of World of Zing is easily my biggest achievement. Watching our first sale come through was ridiculously exciting and seeing people come back again and again for our products is incredibly satisfying. There has been so much effort into launching this project that all of the awards we win and great press get is like a personal pat on the back!
Who would play you in a movie?
In my mind, it’s probably someone suave and distinguished like Gerard Butler. However, given my eating and drinking habits, it would probably be someone far less polished and a little more rotund, like Jonah Hill!
Tell us something amazing about the Food/Drink industry?
BEST. INDUSTRY. EVER.
This industry is just a massive family, and it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, you’ll always meet someone who you know somehow in some back-street bar somewhere and you’ll end up having the time of your life!
Do you have any quirky / OCD rituals?
Always stir my tea 10 times in a clockwise direction (preferably with a bar spoon) whilst the teabag is gently hooked to the end of the spoon – this method releases more flavour without squeezing the tanins out. There, I said it.
Other brands you respect?
There are so many exciting new brands emerging from the food scene, but I’ve got to pick out The Ribman for being one of the early pioneers of the street food scene who has turned a food stall into London’s most famous hot-sauce brand; Crosstown Donuts have done an amazing job in turning their donut stall into a product that’s available all over London, including Selfridges; Sipsmith for championing the craft spirits movement in the UK; and BarChick, cos most people think it’s one person, but there’s like a million of you!
Worst day at World of Zing?
When running your own business, it’s really easy to take things a little personally and make huge issues out of little problems. We’ve had silly little things like labels arriving wrong or when one of our vans broke down the day before we had to prepare for one of our food markets. But I’ve just learnt to get on with it now – it’s all part of the challenge and fun!
Best Day at World of Zing?
Aside from being invited into BarChick Towers for a drinking session, it was amazing to receive recognition for our work in a Channel 4 documentary that champions London’s leading artisans called ‘Makers’. We supply the ingredients that go into the brilliant Dalston Cola, and this documentary perfectly conveyed how World of Zing is involved in London’s artisan community. See it here! (Forward to 1m 30s to see my mug!)