The story behind “Porty Food Map, The Traders’ Stories”

During lockdown Jo set up Instagram account LighthouseKeeper’sLunch where each week she designed an all singing, all dancing Saturday dinner menu, complete with canapes and a wine pairing.  So amazing were her meals and photographs that booking requests started to come in for her restaurant – aka, her kitchen table!  Instead of opening said restaurant the idea of collecting the stories and recipes from local food traders and turning them into a recipe book / local snapshot of the amazing produce available on and around the thriving Porty High Street was born. 

Porty Food Map, The Traders’ Story is a passion project from Porty local, self-proclaimed foodie and MasterChef entrant, Jo Turbitt.  Luckily for Portobello Central, Jo is also passionate about Portobello and our community and has generously offered the book as a fundraiser for the Town Hall. 

Porty Central trustee Jen Elliot got wind of the project and the two super enthusiastic women hatched the plan to bring the book to reality.  Their passion and drive encouraged other talented locals to offer photography, illustrations and gathering those recipes and stories together.  So, a real community endeavour celebrating the local food community, encouraging people to buy more wonderful produce locally, chat to the traders and showcase what we have on our doorstep to the wider world.

The relationships that Jo developed over the lockdowns really came to the fore when ‘the ask’ had to be made.  When you get your copy (£12 pre-order) and collect it at the launch event in March you’ll see from the photos the real pride shine through from all the traders involved.  Pride that really holds together all aspects of Porty’s community.  When we can see other high streets devastated by shopping online, the pride and buzz in Porty’s High Street is so evident.

All the traders have been really generous letting us into their stores and lives.  Some of the recipes are favourites, some passed down through the family, others conjure up a joyous time and feeling.  With one exception* , all have a lovely wine paired with them as in Jo’s original weekly plan. 

We asked Jo and Jen what the book meant to them and why they wanted to bring it to life.  I’ve distilled about twenty minutes of high-speed banter into this top five:

Try new recipes / new produce / shops they didn’t know existed

Get to know the local traders and unknown stories, to not ask for a raffle prize and instead, give something back

Have a snapshot in time of the revitalisation of the high street – a sad goodbye to Skylark, but we’re sure we’ll welcome other new faces soon

Encouraging others to shop locally on the high street and prom

Raise funds for Porty Town Hall to help bring that back to be the beating heart of the community

I can’t express in words the passion for the project from Jo and Jen and all involved here. If you haven’t already then please have a listen to the Porty Podcast and you’ll be bowled over.  When you’ve done that – don’t forget to buy your copy, watch out for more about the launch event where you’ll hear and be infected by Jo’s passion, cook a recipe and love our local food traders.

*There’s an added bonus that even our canine companions are catered for – but no wine.

Sally Dyson Trustee