THE GROUNDNUT RIPENS UNDERGROUND
This interview brings together four electrifying personalities from the same neighbourhood. On one side of the table is Jason Caines, who raucously campaigned against the closure of South Bank Skate Park. On the other side sit the three boundary pushing chefs behind The Groundnut, a supper club that was so delicious, it turned into a book.
Why did you decide to start up Groundnut?
Jacob: We were all doing separate things at the time and seeing each other occasionally. Duval took the initiative to organise a meeting where he outlined how he saw things, and it was exciting to work towards producing something together. We never looked back.
What was the idea of creating a supper club?
Jacob: The fundamental idea was to create an atmosphere where people felt comfortable
talking to each other. Although space and music play supporting roles – food is the focal point…the lead. We serve it banquet style in big communal dishes, or fabric stretched serving boards, which encourages what we call associative eating. It’s important for people to share what’s on the table and serve each other.
Why is it called Groundnut?
Jacob: A Groundnut is a seed that ripens underground, and we thought that worked as a nod to Africa and homage to our humble roots in South-East London.
When did you guys discover a love for making African food?
Jacob: We wouldn’t call it a discovery, it was more of a realisation that African food is a strong part of our identity. For years we connected with other cultures through different types of food, and the more we cooked, the more we realised that we were sharing a slice of Africa.
How did you guys all meet?
Folayemi: I was born in Lewisham, and brought up in Catford just a little further out towards the zones. Duval and I schooled together in Lee, and I wouldn’t recognise New Cross without him. I met Jacob at Goldsmiths University, and years on we are better friends than ever.
I know you guys all love music. Do you play music when you cook? If so what do you play?
Jacob: Sharing tapes and CDs is something we’ve always done. There are a few Groundnut classics that we’ve racked up over the years, a mixture of soulful classics and lucid beats. When I think of a Groundnut playlist, I think ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac, ‘They Found Him A Gun’ by Maverick Sabre. ‘Moment of Truth’ by Gang Starr. ‘His Pain’ by Kendrick Lamar and BJ the Chicago Kid. And then there’s a whole tier of tracks under the umbrella of ‘Mama Kabwa’s Tunes’, as a tribute to our friend Denis’ mother. Just before we started The Groundnut we travelled to Vienna to celebrate his birthday and she would put on the most beautiful music – smooth Mali blues like Boubacar Traoré – at the dinner table. It wasn’t overbearing, but just loud enough to appreciate.