Rowena from Crosstown Doughnuts made the move from Melbourne to London back in the summer of 2014. She fills us in on how things have changed in the London food scene, what’s going on at Crosstown Doughnuts, and what she misses about home.
How has the food and café scene changed in London since you have been there?
In the short time I’ve been here I’ve seen the demand grow for cafes and restaurants who offer just one product, or a niche one, done exceptionally well. Hoppers and Bao are great examples. I think coffee is no exception, people are willing to strip away most of a drink menu if it leaves a couple of great options to be enjoyed.
Coming from Melbourne, I’ve also seen London follow suit in how seriously Melbournians take their cafes. Brunch has become almost as considered and refined as a great dinner. Not only in the final dish, but the ingredients that go into it and the care taken to the environment it’s enjoyed in. Londoners are more than willing to indulge in food and drink, as long as they know it’s top notch quality.
I read a quote that Crosstown Doughnuts are the “most Instagram friendly snack”. How important do you think Instagram has been in the success of Crosstown?
I have no doubt that Crosstown’s widest-reaching advertiser is Instagram. Given the way people consume information at the moment, you can’t really beat quick, free and visually stimulating content that everyone can engage with instantly. It’s amazing to check geotags and find new posts every day, and read all the wonderful comments about people’s experiences. I think organic marketing will always trump, as it’s honest, peer-to-peer and accessible.
Where does the inspiration for new flavours of doughnuts come from?
Seasonality plays a big role in the development of new flavours. We love to use fresh and real ingredients in all our hand-made compotes, glazes and toppings. We’ve just launched a new kiwi and green apple filled doughnut, topped with mint and white chocolate glaze. It’s ideal for sunny London days! The chai custard doughnut we launched in collaboration with Prana Chai was the perfect warm and spicy doughnut during the winter months. JP and Adam, who founded Crosstown, work with our bakers to make sure we have a great variety of flavours, textures and colours to keep the offering exciting.
What is something you miss about Australia?
I didn’t realise how much growing up by the sea had resonated with me. I always lived within a mile of a beach and it wasn’t until I moved away that I appreciated it.
What is next for Crosstown? Are there any future collaborations in the works?
We’re really focussing on the retail stores at the moment. We’ve opened two stores in the last six months and hopefully have two more on the way. It’s awesome to see the business grow from a single stall on Leather Lane market to lots of buzzy outlets all over town.
There are a few more collaborations in the pipeline - the latest is a great Cold Brew Martini doughnut with our pals from Sandows. It’s boozy, caffeinated and in doughnut form, you can’t really ask for more.