Brixton’s free-spirited Coldharbour Lane gave us the spark of inspiration to create Coldharbour Lager, a super-refreshing pilsner-style beer with Bohemian origins. Our content series, Characters of Coldharbour Lane, pays tribute to the people behind the street.
We sat down for a beer and a chat with Brian, owner of Caribbean restaurant Fish, Wings & Tings at the entrance to Brixton Village market on Coldharbour Lane.
Q: How did you develop your passion for food?
I grew up in Trinidad & Tobago. My grandma Tina was a huge inspiration to me, I consider her my personal Jesus. She was always cooking for the community back home, using her food to show love. As a teenager, cooking became my go-to pastime. There weren’t any clubs, so I would always be cooking with friends, cooking with family, by the river, by the sea, and so on.
Later I went to the US and trained with some top chefs who taught me classical French techniques. Cooking is my world, it’s what I love to do.
Q: What inspired you to open Fish, Wings & Tings in Brixton Village?
I consider that Fish, Wings & Tings came about by divine intervention. I was working on another project which fell apart midway through and I was in danger of losing my business. I got on my knees and prayed with conviction, tears and everything, like I was taught to do as a child when I found myself in a hard situation.
As I came into Brixton the following day I noticed that the entrance to the market was open. So by divine faith I went straight in and spoke with the market manager. I told him what I wanted to do. I’d already had the idea for the restaurant 25 years ago so it was easy for me to pitch it- good homemade Caribbean food, made with the passion of my grandma. Lots of bright colours and flavours: Brixton was the perfect place for that! He asked me to write him a proposal, and eventually offered me the space.
When we opened eight years ago, we were one of the first businesses to stock Brixton Brewery, back when you were just selling to the market and delivering by foot. It’s the source of all successful stories- doing the grind and being humble.
Q: What do you think makes Brixton such a special place?
Brixton has always had this energy and this vibe, but it is the sense of community above all which makes it special. You come to work in the morning and people say hello to you. We buy 95% of our produce from the market. If someone comes to us with no money for food we give them a meal. It feels like home to me.
Portraits from our Characters of Coldharbour Lane series will be on display at the Brixton Brewery Tap Room from 23rd September or you can see them as they drop on Instagram @brixtonbrewery. Look for Coldharbour Lager at bars and bottle shops throughout London and beyond (or shop via our website here). Grab one and take refuge from thirst.