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Posted on 14/06/24

To celebrate the launch of our newly redesigned knives we invited the founders of our favourite independent food magazine - SLOP - to guest edit a special edition of our journal Fewer, Better.

Nicolas and Jack’s idea was to produce a publication which celebrates those people in the food industry who - like us - take the time to do and make things properly.

And over interviews with four fantastic individuals that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Whether that’s chef Abby Lee whose Nyonya cooking has seen her described by The Sunday Times as “the quiet magician of Malaysian cooking”. Or Danny Murphy, the master fishmonger at the helm of the award-winning oeno maris. Then there’s Justine Fulton whose female-run butchers - Rack of Glam - is redefining Manchester’s food scene. And Elliot Hashtroudi whose Borough Market restaurant, Camille, was recently named one of the UK’s best. 

Each of these profiles have been published in the latest edition of SLOP. And we’ve also developed a standalone zine which is available for Katto Rewards members to order for free (click here to join).

Ahead of the publication we sat down with Nicolas to discuss life as a magazine man, the importance of print and how to cure a hangover.

Katto (K): What are the origins of SLOP? Where did the idea for the magazine come from?

Nicolas Payne-Baader (NP-B): I was a butcher at Hill & Szrok at the time and just had this realisation that whilst lots of media and magazines focused on chefs and restaurants; very few explored the produce, producers and people who sell it. I pitched the idea to Jack - who I had known for years and had just left Hypebeast - and SLOP was born.

K: Where did the name come from?

NP-B: We landed on SLOP following a series of really, really bad ideas for names. We wanted something that was a bit light-hearted because so much food criticism and writing is serious and holier-than-thou. Slop is obviously food-related; but it’s also what they feed to pigs. I hope it conveys that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

K: The magazine is primarily a print publication. Is the medium important?

NP-B: Absolutely. We want the magazine to be picked-up like a food product, in the places where people are shopping for food products - delis, cheesemongers, fishmongers, butchers. And both Jack and I think that print is important. It has permanence that you don’t get with digital. There’s just something a bit more special about it. I suppose our view is that the stories we’re telling and the people we’re celebrating deserve that.

K: How do you source pieces for the magazine?

NP-B: Probably two thirds of it is commissioned, with Jack and I working on the rest. One of the things that we wanted to do is to use writers and people who aren't classic food writers. We want people who like food, obviously. But also who want to go out and learn everything there is to know about their subject.

K: What makes a good article pitch for SLOP?

NP-B: The best ideas start from a single ingredient, piece of meat or wine and then work outwards to find the wider importance or relevance. We want food, yes. But we also want culture, history and the sociology of food. Where has this traditional way of, say, preserving fruit come from? Why is that important? Why should anyone care?

K: What do you think is the best meal you’ve had this year?

NP-B: Oh that is quite tricky. Probably the best restaurant meal would be at Bouchon Racine. Which I know lots of people love and isn’t very original. But the food there and the service are just fantastic. It’s one of those places that feels as though it’s been there for thirty years.

I also had an amazing experience eating homemade charcuterie in Slovakia with a troupe of local winemakers. Sitting in a mouldy old cellar eating ham that one of the guys had cured from his neighbour's pig. What could be better?

K: And what’s your dinner party offering?

NP-B: It depends on how serious the host is about wine. If they’re not that serious I’d pop down to Dynamic Vines and basically take Fred’s advice on what he thinks I should take. But if they’re a big wine person then I’d bring a really great bottle of olive oil. Which is pretty much my go-to gift anyway - a real treat that you’d never buy for yourself.

K: What about your best hangover cure?

NP-B: I’m going to sound like an unbearable ponce; but I really rate beef tartare as a hangover cure. Controversial, I know. But for some reason it really works. For a period, if I was really hungover, I’d pop into The Wolseley and have beef tartare and a glass of their cheapest champagne which always sorts you out.

K: If you could transport us to any place in the world for supper where would it be?

NP-B: My grandmother's from Salamanca in Northwest Spain and the tapas bars there are just sensational. You walk through, you buy a glass of wine at each one, and they serve you the most amazing little plates. It's unbelievably cheap and also it has that that kind of element of a bar crawl which I think just makes everything a bit more fun; going to five places is really fun.

K: Finally, what’s next for SLOP?

NP-B: In August we will publish Issue Five which is all about cities. The idea is to explore how the city connects to food because that's quite a weird, sometimes quite fraught relationship. We’ll be looking at how food shapes cities, what is grown in urban environment and a lot more. It has a big international focus which is always exciting.


SLOP guest edited the June edition of our journal Fewer, Better. Join Katto Rewards to receive a complementary hardcopy by clicking here.