Q&A with Burnt Toast Café’s Daniel Fiteni

The restaurateur explains the story behind his eatery's quirky name, and why he chose Brixton as its home

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

One of Burnt Toast Café's many delectable brunch options.

If you are a foodie and have not been to Brixton recently, make some time to check it out! It has to be one of London’s most vibrant food scenes. So what about Burnt Toast Café? The petit café has a real rustic feel to it. Pioneered by Daniel Fiteni, ‘Burnt Toast’ is all about brunch. Since no restaurateur fits the mould, I did not know what to expect.

On this particular morning, the village was quiet. Fiteni carried an air of the new cool that’s been permeating Brixton. Most importantly, he seemed uncannily in touch with trends, Brixton, and his customers. Throughout the interview, Fiteni was serious, generous, and focused; he communicated with a genuine sincerity that provided invaluable insight into the changes Brixton is undergoing.

Although Burnt Toast is still growing, it demonstrates that London can get brunch right. The café is tiny but the portions are generous (and tasty). So, go on a hungry stomach! There is no doubt that a lot of hard work and vision has gone into it. The future is bright for Brixton!

Why the name ‘Burnt Toast’?

There are not many cafés in London that have toasters outside for people to make toast, so generally when people sit down, they order their food and they get so deep into conversations and they actually forget about their toast, and 80% of the time they burn their toast. So it was just a fitting name for us to call the café.

So do you just come in and make your own toast?

For most of the meals on our brunch menu, people either get two slices of toast or homemade English muffin. People sit down and make their toast themselves, so you always have fresh toast with your breakfast. [pullquote: right]

Do you get an unlimited supply of toast?

You get the toast which is part of your breakfast and if you want more there is an add on charge.

What is the focus on bread?

I think high-street bakeries are a thing of the past. Everything has gone to chain supermarket bakeries where it is not face to face between a baker and customer. We partnered up with The Bad Boys Bakeries which is linked to Brixton Prison - a friend of ours actually runs the bakery there. Gordon Ramsay is also involved. So they bake all of our bread. I lead a baking class there at least once a fortnight, just to give something back.  

Where do you get your produce?

We get everything from the market. We also have a meat supplier. We have to have reputable suppliers.

Why did you choose Brixton?

Four years ago, there wasn’t really much in Brixton in terms of retail units, so we had an idea that we should bring something a little different. No one was really doing the brunch theme. Of course there was ‘Federation Coffee’ and ‘Cornercopia’. So we thought, let’s go for it as the rent was so cheap. We had the space and time to do our thing. It was a platform for us to get ‘Burnt Toast’ out there.

Have you always loved food?

Yes. I have been in hospitality since I was 18. I learned to bake in seven days and opened my own bakery, which I was always eager to do.

What’s the ethos behind Burnt Toast?

We just want to give people a really fresh, well-cooked breakfast at a reasonable price. It’s also about showing people that good bread is still made within bakeries; it’s not just about buying cheap bread from supermarkets. It is about giving people a decent product.

So it’s about making good food affordable?

Exactly.

 

Paula Pennant is the Daily Meal's London editor. 

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