“My favourite is gin, rhubarb, raspberry and apple, because I love the sour flavours.” Kim Innes is not talking cocktails, but crumbles. The description does not sound like the pudding that graces Sunday lunch tables and her version certainly does not look like it either.
The 24-year-old founder of Humble Crumble has taken the nation’s favourite dessert and given it a thoroughly modern twist, garnished with juniper berries and served in a martini glass. All this is served from her mobile crumble bar in outdoor markets and at private events.
Whippet thin, Innes is an unlikely looking foodie. The idea for a crumble bar started far from central London on a hot sticky day in Brighton where Innes was an English Literature student.
“There was a North Laines gelato shop just rammed with people wanting something cold to take away. I started wondering what the winter alternative would be.”
The solution came naturally. Innes and crumble, it turns out, have history. At thirteen she signed up for cookery classes at her school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Her first creation was a crumble for which she won a much coveted ‘Gold Star’. Not only did the gong win her family’s praise, but also the weekly task of making the dish every weekend for her parents and four siblings.
“I’m one of those people that gets bored quite easily, so I got inventive with it. I really wanted to refine the flavours and improve on the last one. I ended up making a crumble with every single berry you can imagine: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apple, there was some lemon in there and maybe some orange zest. My parents still talk about it.”
The experimentation with flavours continued into her adult years, when cocktails became a major inspiration for her recipes. Her menu would equally appeal to mixologists as well as those with a sweet tooth (though the alcohol gets cooked out in the process). A bestseller is prosecco, strawberry raspberry and apple crumble garnished with rose petals, honeycomb and meringue. Liquid nitrogen crumbles are on the way!
“I’m one of those people that gets bored quite easily, so I got inventive with it.”
Another favourite is the Old Fashioned made with dark sweet cherries, blood orange, apples and bourbon. It was created on the fly when liquor company Bulleit asked her to cater a private event at short notice.
“They asked me 24 hours before the event to make a bourbon crumble. I ran down to the nearest pub and asked for an Old Fashioned. They’d run out of whisky so I had to go to another bar.”
Though her product is the ultimate comfort food, Innes has a hard business head. At university she set up a tutoring agency, hiring students to teach A-Level and GCSE pupils.
“It was a way of getting through university and getting a wage. It’s completely service based and with no costs involved,” she says.
She decided to test the demand for gourmet crumble by selling it as street food. The first hurdle was that food markets are notoriously hard to get into without prior experience. To overcome this without losing money, she designed a stall setup on Photoshop to send to markets. It was only when one agreed that she invested. Innes jokes that her business sense might be down to genetics.
“My family were entrepreneurs. I come from the Broadwood family one of the oldest piano companies in the world. They took the harpsichord and added an octave and a half above, an octave below and added the pedals! My great, great, uncle, Igor Sikorsky invented the first commercially produced helicopter and my grandmother’s father set up a supermarket chain in Scotland.”
She has recently moved to Bermondsey after a stint trading at Maltby Street Market made her fall in love with the area’s culinary culture.
“It’s such a great place for food. Producers who supply the area love what they do and people who live here are willing to try new things. I’ve just moved in above a pasta restaurant and there is an underground gin bar below that. There’s so much around every corner,” she says.
EXPLORE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – INNES’ GUIDE
Maltby Street Market, Ropewalk, Bermondsey, SE1 3PA
I’ll go to this weekend food market even if I’m not trading. The food there is of such high quality and the people are so passionate about what they’re producing.
José Tapas Bar Bermondsey, 104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB
The food is phenomenal. I love everything I eat there: the calamari, the honey and goat’s cheese, the lamb chops…
The Watchhouse, 199 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW
They have multiple cafes around London Bridge, but that one is such as lovely building. It’s so small and such a nice atmosphere. They’re keen on helping local businesses too.