Clerkenwell Boy

The anonymous Instagrammer has built up a huge cult following for his mouth-watering food snaps, with fans including Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Here he tells Katy Salter why he’s made his home in EC1, how to take better phone pics, and reveals his favourite neighbourhood haunts.

When and why did you move to Clerkenwell?
I moved from Australia to the UK around 10 years ago. I wanted to live somewhere central where I could explore London on foot. I found a place in Clerkenwell and have stayed here ever since.

Have you lived anywhere else in London, and how does it compare?
No. I love living in EC1 – it’s really busy during the week but quiet and chilled on the weekends.

Has the area changed much since you moved here?
There have definitely been more restaurant openings in the area over the past few years, as well as more residential properties on offer.

Do you have any secret spots in the neighbourhood?
I used to live inside The Charterhouse, which is an almshouse and a former Carthusian monastery. Once you get past.the gates, it’s beautiful and peaceful inside. I would encourage everyone to join one of their guided tours in the summer and explore the grounds, as well as learn about the amazing history there.

When did things start taking off with your Instagram and were you surprised?
It was probably around a year ago when I got featured by Instagram. That was followed by mentions in various publications such as BBC Good Food, Delicious Magazine, Evening Standard, Observer Magazine, The Times and Time Out.

What’s been the most exciting experience to happen since you started posting pics?
Meeting my food heroes such as Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson

What do you love most about Clerkenwell?
The history, the location, the vibe… everything really!

Where are your favourite places to eat in Clerkenwell?
For British food I like The Quality Chop House and St John. Coffee from Prufrock, breakfast at Granger & Co, and Caravan or The Modern Pantry for brunch. I also love Sushi Tetsu, Morito for tapas, The Zetter Townhouse for cocktails and Vinoteca for wine.

What’s the most photogenic dish in EC1?
I love Morito beetroot borani with beetroot, yoghurt, feta, walnuts & dill. Those Granger & Co ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter are also a must!

Do you ever eat in – if so, what’s your signature dish?
I love making fresh pasta at home. The Italian delis around Clerkenwell. – Quality Chop House, Gazzano’s and Terroni – have great authentic produce. My go-to dishes include carbonara with crispy guanciale, organic eggs and grated cheese; toasted pine nut, lemon, spinach and a blue cheese sauce; or spicy crab meat pasta with brown and white crab meat, tomatoes, capers, parsley and chillies. And they all take under 10 to 15 minutes to cook!

What tips would you give readers who want to improve their Instagram pics?
Shoot when there’s natural daylight (but avoid direct sunlight), and if possible try to ask for a table by the window. When you post, add a useful description of the photograph and add relevant location tags and hashtags.

What are your most used cookbooks and why?
Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson books are always a great source of inspiration for fuss-free cooking and checking quantities for baking (such as banana bread). I also love Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott for Asian recipes.

What are your plans beyond social media – will you be focusing on food in other ways online or in book form? 
I said no to book deals, apps and YouTube offers in 2015 as I don’t really have much free time, but let’s see what 2016 will bring. I definitely want to do more travel though.

Finally, what was your most popular Instagram shot?
I think the simple things like doughnuts, pancakes, pizza, mac ’n’ cheese and dumplings usually get the most likes. The oozy custard tarts by Taberna do Mercado in Old Spitalfields Market. Oh, and avocado on toast at Prufrock Coffee in Leather Lane.

Follow Clerkenwell Boy’s gourmet adventures on Instagram @clerkenwellboyec1