Introducing the Edit, a Farah community content series bringing together creative people across different cultures and crafts, capturing them in their place of work and highlighting their passions and upcoming projects.

First up, local neighbourhood cafe, Le Swine. Born in 2014, founder and head chef James Packman started by taking his converted 1969 Austin Morris ambulance truck to local markets, festivals and offering private hire. Now, 10 years later with a permanent cafe in his local town East Sheen, the team serve their renowned bacon sarnie & all the extras to an ever-growing customer base.

Check out James & the team's top Farah picks, as seen below.

How did Le Swine come about?

So Le Swine came about whilst I was working with Bruno Loubet in Clerkenwell, A French Michelin Star chef. One evening he was creating some recipes for his take on a bacon roll. They were to be served for a special meeting the next day and the menu read: ‘teas, coffees and Bruno’s amazing bacon rolls’. I couldn’t wait to see what this guy was going to do to something as simple as a bacon sarnie?

I made sure I got up early the next morning and stole the only spare bacon roll. It was mega.

He came in later that day and burst through the doors saying “who the f*ck stole my bacon roll?” and everyone went quiet. Someone must have just pointed at me. He comes over, fumin’ and has a go at me. He calms down and comes back to me later in the day to ask me “so…how was it?”. I said “yeah, it was pretty special”. He said “imagine showing everyone how good a bacon sandwich could really be” and that must have sparked something in me.

How did you perfect the Le Swine bacon sandwich?

We worked on it even further, creating recipes for the bread, the bacon butter and the ketchups. We then sourced this incredible old fashioned middle bacon from Lancashire. When we first sampled the bacon, I had a sage plant on the window ledge and Bruno chopped a little up and added it to the frying bacon. We still add a touch of sage to every rasher we fry, but I’m not sure we would be if that sage plant hadn’t been on the window ledge that day. Either way, it was a master stroke from the old man.

What does your signature dish consist of all these years later?

Our signature dish at Le Swine is the bacon and egg butty, made up of a milk and caramelised onion bun, homemade bacon butter, old fashioned middle bacon, Le Swine ketchups and a Fenton Farm fried egg. So good.

How did you get it out there to everyone and make Le Swine what it is now?

We purchased an old 1969 Austin Morris British ambulance, which my Dad converted into a street food truck. We started going around local markets, festivals, doing private hires and then got a permanent pitch in Spitalfields Market. Covid then shut everything down which is when we moved things online, sending the make-at-home meal kits nationwide which worked really well. But the dream was always a shop, a cafe. I always enjoy eating in neighbourhood spots, so I wanted to do the same in my local area. We finally opened the cafe, which I’d probably been talking about for the last 8 years and never pulled the trigger, so I reckon a lot of people were pleased when I finally did it as they were so bored of hearing about it!

What do you look for in clothing whilst at work?

Comfort first. You’re on your feet all day, bending up and down, so you wanna be comfy. Durability is another key factor and of course hopefully something that looks decent, as the team and I don’t want to be looking like we’ve just rolled out of bed.

What about FOH? How do you like the team to represent Le Swine?

I think it’s important that the punters know who the team are and they look presentable and comfortable. Nothing too stuffy works best.

What fit works for you in the kitchen? Is it the same as what you wear in day to day life?

Yeah, I pretty much wear the same clobber at work as I do day-to-day, there’s no real change in that, unless I’m dressing up a bit. Definitely a loose fit trouser, no weird tight fitting clobber. Feels uncomfortable… looks uncomfortable. Fabric-wise, something soft and durable.

Do you have any top tips for someone starting out in the food industry? Any dos or don’ts?

Dos or don’ts if you're getting into food …
Do… something authentic to yourself. I think people buy into a real story. Also doing something personal to you gets you through the tougher times.
Don’t… wear those Crocs shoes with the holes in!

What tunes keep you guys going in the kitchen whilst slaving away over the stove?

It’s a mixed bag of things. In the mornings I like things a little bit slower, just coming in and everyone seems to be waking up. So sometimes a bit of Nina Simone. But by the time the place fills up, it’s more like Pats Earrings and a bit of house and garage here and there.

One thing is that it’s never silent here, because the silence freaks me out, especially in the kitchen. I don’t know why it just really unnerves me, so we’ll have music playing. If it ever goes off during service, someone needs to jump on it quickly!

So it’s definitely an important part of everyone’s experience here and I want people to feel energy as soon as they walk through the door. That’s why the open kitchen was always important so the customer can be part of it all, see what’s going on and get a warm welcome, with some good music playing.

What are you working on? Any upcoming news to share with the Farah team?

As it’s such early days still, all focus is on the cafe right now, but we’re looking forward to making the most of the space. We’re going to be opening every Friday night, working with local DJs and serving cocktails, beers and tasty food.

We’ve also got a couple of really good chefs here, one in particular a Turkish lad, who will be doing his own Turkish Takeover at the cafe real soon. I can’t wait for that. We’ve also got the Euros coming up, so we’re hoping to show some games here. Bacon sarnies, beers and the footy. Just need to book Barry from Eastenders for a half-time rendition of Sweet Caroline.

Find out more about Le Swine and Britain's best bacon butty below.

170 Upper Richmond Road West
East Sheen
SW14 8AW

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