Holly Wilson is the woman in charge of my favourite kitchen shop, bar none, Prep. Now Prep in Stoke Newington is no ordinary kitchen shop. It's beautifully thought out with impressive attention to detail. Rather than stuff the rafters like an Aladdin's cave of kitchen gadgetry, Holly has carefully set about creating a warm and welcoming space where less is more and boy does it work. From the fab, ever-changing window displays to the carefully curated recipe book corner, the shop feels as if every item's carefully and lovingly picked both for its brains and its brawn making the place feel special. Personally, I find it near impossible to leave the shop without convincing myself I need more cast iron cookware or the very handsome brass coffee pot that’s caught my eye and that's part of the charm - there's no hard sell just great stuff well chosen.
Having set up Prep just over a year ago Holly, who has two small kids, has grafted tirelessly to put this independent kitchen shop on the map and it’s worked. Prep has become a well-loved local and I wanted to find out how this boss mama manages to make it all look so easy and always has a smile for you no matter what she's juggling!
What's your go-to midweek meal and why?
I always cook the same thing on a Monday, boring I know, but reliable. It’s known in our house as Chicken tasty! It’s chicken thighs roasted with cannelini beans, cherry tomatoes, peppers, chilli, garlic, olive oil and basil. Served with an accompanying ciabatta to soak up the juices!
It takes a while in the oven but I prep it while the kids are having their tea and then it cooks while we are getting the kids bathed and in bed and dinner is served when we are ready
What are your top 3 tunes to cook to?
Randy Crawford - Street Life
Solange - Losing you
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (it’s my kids favourite song and always has us dancing round the kitchen!)
When your children are being difficult about food what's your key to staying sane?
It actually drives me insane but I try to just explain to them that they need to try it and if they don't want it they don't have to eat it but they won't get anything else or any snacks until the next meal. This normally (hopefully) means they will eat it and if not they are starving for the next meal. I aim for one really good meal a day and I'm happy!
You always look incredibly stylish! What's your go-to piece of clothing that transports you from mum mode to #mumboss?
Too kind! I don't know really. My style is fairly minimal. I do love a bit of leather which harks from my days working in leather in my previous job. A leather jacket, skirt or trouser can really do it for me!
I know you're partial to a pair of trainers! What are your current favourites?
They are old now but I still can't stop wearing my Nike Free Flyknit 4.0. I can't really look as it wakes the beast within! Time for an upgrade though soon I think!
As both an entrepreneur and mum to two small children, what keeps you motivated and juggling it all?
I get to do something that I love and gives me great pleasure as a job. I get to make all of the decisions and then either live with the triumph or the disappointment and sometimes you never know which way it will go which is exciting. Having my own business also means that I can be more flexible and make time for the kids. My daughter started school in September and I have managed to drop her off and pick her up from school almost everyday which I never would have been able to do in my old career. I'm not going to lie though, its not always easy!
Sometimes, just the thought of cooking at the end of a day can near push us mamas over the edge. What are your top three super-duper, time-saving kitchen gadgets that’ll save us vital minutes?
1. Quick Stik snack slicer - it cuts cucumber into sticks and quarters tomatoes and grapes which when I'm making kids lunch boxes and dinners is a life-saver. There is such a risk of choking on grapes but who's got time to quarter grapes?!
2. A Stick blender. I have the Bamix stick blender and it’s amazing. It’s so powerful that everything is done in a jiffy! Soups blended, cream whipped, small things chopped. It’s so handy as it’s small so takes up no space and isn't a real faff to get out of a cupboard so gets regular use.
3. Very sharp blades! Knife shapeners and regularly changing peelers will save vital minutes and keep you safe. The joy of a sharp knife will have you prepping all your ingredients in no time. You'd be amazed how much longer it takes with a blunt knife.
Holly's Chicken Tasty recipe and her playlist:
6 x chicken thighs
1 x can of canellini beans
1 x pepper
A good helping of cherry tomatoes
2 x cloves of garlic
Fresh chilli's - amount depending on personal taste, I use 3 but thats probably a bit much!
Bunch of fresh basil
salt and pepper
1. pre-heat your oven to 180C
2. Drain the canellini beans
3. Chop the pepper, tomatoes, chilli's, basil and crush the garlic. Throw in an oven dish and season with salt and pepper and drizzle over oil
4. Season the chicken thighs and place on top of the bean mixture
5. Cover with foil and stick in the oven at 180 for 45 minutes
6. Remove foil and turn up the heat for another 30 mins to crisp up the chicken
7. For the last 10 minutes that the chicken is cooking put the ciabatta into the oven to heat up
Prep, 106 Stoke Newington High Street, London
Open Tues - Sat: 9.30am - 5.30pm
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