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We wanted to combine soulful food with the growing youthful music scene.””,,

WORDS: Jessica Millward


he Soul Food Project is the vision of Matthew Beck. As we sit on the plush leather sofas of the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, a seemingly typical British pub, you wouldn’t assume that it was home to the new, innovative food of the Deep South. The Soul Food Project is the first entirely Cajun kitchen to be brought to Birmingham, with an interesting menu consisting of the classic Cajun Jambalaya dish, a mix of peppers, rice and various varieties of meat, whilst the unique ‘Po’ Boys’ sandwiches offer a lunchtime flavour of the Deep South. Matthew explains that the chef behind these delicious meals is Carl, a classically French trained chef who felt the need to create an interesting menu of brand new meals the likes of which Birmingham had never seen before. The aim was a menu consisting of flavoursome, locally-sourced foods that were also available at fair prices. They wanted to explore the vibrant cuisine of New Orleans by combining a mixture of family recipes with a selection taken from Cajun cook books, to practise the Deep South idea of building something from nothing. However, the pair would also like to change the menu seasonally to keep the project fresh and exciting. They didn’t want to fall into the

category of the typical ‘gastro pub’, so the kitchens at the Hare and Hounds, as well as at The Victoria in Birmingham city centre, are promoting the authentic Soul Food Project menu which is targeted at just about anyone. The combination of music and soulful food has proved to be a great success amongst their customers, with the project hosting live music nights, where the public can come along and listen to a set of live music whilst trying out the mouth-watering food. Matt explains that they usually have reasonably well-known artists playing, supported by lesser known musicians, as he likes the idea of giving newer bands and artists the chance to be noticed, much like his own mission to promote lesser known Cajun cuisine to the British public. Once a month, the project holds themed nights in which a country is selected and a tailored menu is created to bring to life that country’s interpretation of what Soul Food is. The night has a pre-set menu of 3 courses for £15 and each month’s menu stimulates the taste buds in a variety of ways. Matt says they’ve had a great response to these themed nights, with fantastic feedback from the public and they plan to hold a British themed night in the near future. The Soul Food Project also has plans for further expansion. Matthew

and Carl want the company to grow into more cities in England, making Cajun cuisine a well-established and popular choice nationwide. Festival catering is also a considered option for the project; its established links with live music would present a great opportunity for the project to grow, catering at larger music events with more customers. The pair enjoy the exhilarating connection with the audience that would allow them to share the joy of their food within the excitement of a festival atmosphere. However, as Matt explains, no one knows what the future holds. However, one thing is certain, the food is new, exciting and delicious and The Soul Food project is definitely going to grab some attention!

SL Magazine Issue 3  

As the dust begins to settle from the August riots, issue 3 of SL Magazine brings together the reactions of young people in Birmingham, and...