Introducing the new female-powered menu at Brixton Studio
Chef Vanina Principi delivers a burst of new flavour and feminine energy to our Soho Friends south London outpost
Tuesday 18 October 2022 By Tilly Pearman
Vanina Principi is the Argentinian chef who’s bringing a new female-powered flavour to Brixton Studio in south London. Behind her new Nikkei-inspired menu – a confluence of Japanese and Peruvian food – is an equally mighty all-women line-up, primed to deliver a burst of fresh flavour to our Soho Friends Studio.
Inspired by her mixed culinary career, the all-day menu – which consists of shareable smalls, crudos and tacos – packs an even bigger punch with its larger plates and desserts; Red Prawns and Chorizo Chupe (served with tomato cassoulet), and a Suspiro Limeno – a traditional Peruvian pudding similar to a dulce de leche.
‘I am incredibly excited about what’s to come at Brixton Studio’, says Principi, who has been part of the Soho House family for the past four years. ‘I’m planning some exciting supper clubs with some incredible guest chefs, so stay tuned.’
Aside from the food, Brixton Studio is a hotbed of local and emerging talent, programmed with weekly events, live music, talks and exhibitions, curated to feel like ‘mini versions’ of Soho Houses themselves.
Having recently celebrated its first birthday, with food from the new menu, we caught up with Principi to talk heritage, the changing trajectory of female chefs, and which dishes she’s most excited about.
What has been your journey to becoming a chef?
‘My love for food started when I was very young. With an Italian mother, I was always involved in the cooking at home, and curious about everything. Then, about 10 years ago, in Buenos Aires, I was working in the best Argentinian grills. Later, I moved to back of house – where all the magic happens. I was looking for a challenge and so I took a course in French cooking and began a job at Osaka (Nikkei food) where the best of Japanese and Peruvian flavours fuse together. Shortly after, I moved to Ibiza to work across Thai and Mediterranean food, before settling in London – the city where I started my career with Soho House, four years ago.’
What inspired you to become a chef?
‘A passion for food. The kitchen is a space to unleash creativity.’
What’s your favourite food to eat?
‘Pasta all the way. Italian meals can be indulgent, but it makes me happy – it makes me feels at home.’
What’s your favourite food to cook?
‘Anything over a grill or direct fire. In Argentina, this style of cooking is like a ritual, bringing family and friends together; I love to bring that to the workplace.’
How has being a female chef affected you in your career?
‘I think things are starting to move in the right direction, but when I started we were overlooked and had to work twice as hard. Sometimes you weren’t even considered for a role based on the fact you were a woman.’
Why is it important to have female representation in kitchens?
‘Women are great, but I think diverse representation in all senses is a must in every work space.’
How do you build a good team?
‘I think you build it by working at it every day. It’s about the fellowship, but also being there for one another and caring about people’s wellbeing.’
What leadership style do you have?
‘I work side by side with my chefs, actively caring about their development to ensure they are happy about their work and can take pride in it.’
What should our members be excited about trying on the new menu?
‘I have a few personal favourites, but definitely the Pulled Chicken Tacos with tequila crema, and Baja Fish Tacos with shrimp chipotle sauce to start. For the main, I would go for the Baby Chicken with habanero ketchup, and a side of Baked Camotes with butter.’
What would your last supper be?
‘Asado (barbecue), Argentinian style. You can’t beat it.’
Can you share any exciting projects that you’re working on next?
‘I’m working on a few extra things at the moment, such as Taco Tuesdays – a weekly event that launches at Brixton Studio on Tuesday 18 October. To kick things off, we’re hosting an event to support the not-for-profit social enterprise, The Burnt Chef Project, which helps people working in hospitality who may be struggling with their mental health. I’ll also be doing some taco workshops on “how to build the perfect taco” for members at Brixton Studio soon.’
Brixton Studio is open to Soho House and Soho Friends members, along with up to three guests. You can view the full new menu here and explore Soho Friends membership here.