Long road through the East to an online foodie biz

Street market Whitechapel Rd E1 1BB © david.altheer@gmail.com

ABOUT HALF a century ago a young man and his family left the town of Navsari in Gujarat state in India for a future in England.

Trying to ignore the discrimination that confronted newcomers, Amritlal Mody and his brothers worked in London at any hour at whatever work they could find. Eventually, they had saved enough for a business.

Their grocery shop would aim to meet the specialist needs of first-generation Indian migrants who had settled in the northeast of the city.

Though the shop was small, word of the spices and other exotic ingredients to be found within spread and Indian families travelled from all over London to stock up on the flavours of “back-home”, as they called the sub-continent.

Before long, as Gandhi Oriental Foods (yes, Gandhi – the Modys have a link to the name) the store was also supplying many of the UK’s burgeoning Indian restaurants with specialist ingredients.

Tthe company’s reputation for sourcing top-quality ingredients has won it clients that include the fashionable Dishoom of Shoreditch and Covent Garden, Michelin-starred restaurants Quilon and Benares and the many Bengali restaurants in Brick Lane.

Now it is starting an outlet it calls World of Zing. Hyperbolically described as “the UK’s first contemporary food and drink emporium”, it is not the first. Nor is it an emporium – although one can understand a publicist’s reaching for such a word – it is an internet retail site.

It will sell savoury snacks and sauces from firms African Volcano and Tonkotsu, plus sweets from South-East Brownie Bar, a Peckham cake-maker, and Pump St Bakery in Suffolk, among others.

Yes, you can make cocktails in a barrel (supplied pic)
Yes, you can make cocktails in a barrel (supplied pic)

It will also offer barrel-made cocktails, “drinks with unique twists” (that publicist again), as well as Stellacello.

World of Zing head Pritesh Mody believes he has detected an increasing gap between the choices of foodies and the produce available to them in shops.

He says: “Many products have become staples of our everyday culinary lives; for example, some chilli sauces are now valued as essential as tomato ketchup by many home cooks.”

His  business would be the first to bridge the gap. That is a big claim… and perhaps open to challenge…

Hamish Scott 080814

* Main picture: Whitechapel Road market at E1 1BB. Gourmets go there not just for the colours but for the flavours. World of Zing should make life easier for food-hunters

* World of Zing is online but from Wed 13 Aug 2014  its warehouse, GOF House, 42 Thomas Road, Mile End E14 7BJ, will open to consumers and trade Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm. Zing also aims to have stalls at Brockley and its sister market at Wapping from Sat 6 Sep 2014. 

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