Launched in 2017, Plates is a food innovation studio run by siblings, Keeley and Kirk Haworth. Working with brands such as Aesop, Toast and Bombay Sapphire, Plates has taken plant-based cuisine to a whole new level through innovation and forward-thinking. Their mission is to explore the potential of plant-based to inspire and promote conversation and cultural evolution.
Their restaurant opens seasonally on Saturday nights in their East London studio, where guests can enjoy a set five course tasting menu of seasonal and plant-based food.
What inspired you to launch Plates?
Keeley: Kirk and I always had an ambition to open a restaurant one day. We had both gone to work in different parts of the world – I stayed in London and Kirk travelled around the states and Australia. When he came back to the UK in 2017, he’d had a change in his health and had contracted Lymes disease.
He changed his diet to plant-based and at this point, it didn’t seem the right time to start a restaurant so we started thinking of other ways we could work together. I was already running a creative studio and Kirk had a really technical side to his food development. We thought if we joined forces to create a food studio, it could be something unique that showcased both of our talents.
Was food always something you thought you might pursue as a career?
Keeley: Our father is a chef and he is so passionate that it was impossible not catch some of that bug. It’s been a passion of ours ever since we were little kids, and career-wise I’ve always worked in food. For a period, I moved over to a design studio to help my husband run his business. I’ve now moved back into food with Plates, but my experience has been joining the two worlds of design and food. Kirk has always worked with food as a chef in restaurants all over the world.
What’s your biggest career achievement to date?
Keeley: Building our first food studio project with Aesop. We approached them with the concept of Seasonal Metamorphosis (a study into nature and change) and the documentation of this study through food, celebrating the different journeys of each season in terms of how ingredients change, grow and evolve. They really understood that it was a beautiful process. There is a lot of alignment in our brands in terms of nature and the environment as well as the creative process, which really helps to strengthen the working relationship.
What do you think sets you apart in the plant-based sector?
Keeley: Unlike other restaurants, we only open Saturday nights to the public. This allows us to make every evening extra special for our guests because we have the time to plan and look at every single detail.
Throughout the week, we’re creating dishes for brands, clients and ourselves at the restaurant. The output is always new and we’re continually testing our own creativity and pushing boundaries. Of course, Kirk’s Michelin background plays a big part in this and his level of skill and inspiration sets us apart from all other plant-based restaurants in London. Plus, having a Michelin star father, we’ve been brought up in the same type of high-quality environment. Now, we are bringing the same standards to our work. We only want the very best.
Moving into autumn, what seasonal ingredients do you like to use?
Kirk: It’s interesting because everyone I speak to says that the best season for creating recipes must be summer as that’s when everything grows, but actually autumn and winter are my favourite seasons for creating dishes; it’s more difficult and that drives more creativity. As a plant-based restaurant, there are of course so many restrictions to the menu. In the winter months, using humble and seasonal ingredients such as beetroot, potato, celeriac and apple is so rewarding when it comes to creating new dishes.
What’s the process behind the creation of each dish?
Kirk: I feel that Plates has come from my own personal journey with food and health and I find that my best dishes come from the weirdest of places. For one of our new dishes – tiramisu – I was making avocado cream and noticed that I was throwing away the skin, so I had the idea to dry it out and use it as a vessel. I put the avocado cream in the bottom and then started thinking about tiramisu because I’d just made coffee. I added nuts and mandarin gel and topped it with coconut yoghurt, dried chocolate powder and coffee. I thought it would taste weird, but you’ve got to try these things! We ate it and thought, ‘wow, that’s good’.
I create from looking at the ingredients, it feels more real and the style of it all is personal and unique to us. You can see that when you look at our dishes.
How does sustainability fit into the business?
Keeley: As a plant-based business, we’re rooted in sustainability. Our main ethos is that we try not to waste anything – we make interesting new dishes or even props that can be used as decorations for shoots or for garnishes on cocktails etc from our food waste.
We try to work with companies who also have good ethics around sustainability and help those who may be looking to improve. We also champion sustainably focussed products; for one of our cocktails from the new menu, we use gin from Foxhole, made out of leftover grape skins from wine production, which is just brilliant.
What do you have planned over the next few months?
Keeley: Re-opening the restaurant this month is the main focus, but we’re very busy at the studio too. We’ve got some new collaborations coming up and we’re also looking at creating our own product line, so there are some exciting new food products coming soon!
What is your favourite Evermore scent and why?
Keeley: Tides is my favourite. I love thyme and we use it in quite a few cocktails so I guess it reminds me of fun times spent with friends and family. It’s a really nice balance – it’s gentle but still quite fragrant. It’s typical that I’m gravitating towards the one most associated with food!