Catching up with Pop-up Queen Emily Rand
If you’ve never had a four course meal in a laundromat, then it’s probably because you haven’t yet come across Emily Rand, and her Mexican pop-up/supper club Rande. Beyond serving some truly delectable Mexican food, Emily sets up her supper clubs in some of London’s most unique spaces including a derelict warehouse, and a Victorian boiler room.
In conversation with Emily, we talk about finding beauty in abandoned spaces, and the tragic circumstances that have inspired her to take the leap and start her own business. According to Emily, “We go to places that a lot of trained professional chefs might not dare touch”. So if your local starts feeling a bit humdrum; venture out of the ordinary, then why not pop into Rande’s next supper club? While we can’t tell you what to expect, one thing is for sure - it will definitely be extraordinary. 
Tell us a little bit about yourself what you do/your idea/your business does?
My name is Emily Rand, and I own a Mexican pop up restaurant that explores all the colours of Mexican cuisine (beyond tacos), called RANDE. We are in between the traditional and experimental side of food. We take labour intensive moles, served with melt in your mouth pork tenderloin and perfectly puffed inflatadas, stuffed with homemade foams that will bring tears to your eyes!
All these tasty morsels are magically conjured in the makeshift kitchens of London’s hidden nooks. Laundromats, Victorian boiler rooms, and deserted warehouses; these forgotten places are my favourites. For our guests, the adventure begins as they walk down the road, timidly searching for this odd venue, and getting a little bit lost along the way! They stumble through the door and find a party waiting. They search for their own groups and bond with strangers who are equally perplexed by the evening’s peculiar events.
What was the spark or Eureka moment for you? Tell us where the idea for your project/business came from?
It was actually a combination of two major things that happened in my life. Firstly, I had been playing with the idea of doing a pop-up for a while, and I was doing loads of dinner parties for my friends. I absolutely loved being creative in the kitchen, and so these dinner parties really built up my confidence as a cook.
Secondly, and more importantly, I have a very large extended family, and we are all really close. My young cousin died quite a sudden and tragic death, so cooking became a real life raft for me and my family through a really dark time. I also felt this sudden and profound understanding of the fragility of life; and felt the need to take big risks in order to live life to the fullest. In that way, a huge part of starting the pop up was that it was my way of honouring my cousin’s life.
Do the spaces that you work and spend time in play a part in influencing your thought processes and ideas? 
At the moment, I’m working in two different spaces which I absolutely love for different reasons. Firstly, I love working in all of London’s weird and wonderful hidden spaces; from Victorian boiler rooms, to basements, and launderettes. These spaces create a unique atmosphere that brings diners together, mainly over the oddness of the evening! Secondly, I also work a fair bit in my own loft-style mews house in Dalston. This is the perfect space for smaller parties as it creates a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Guests enter as strangers attending a small supper club, and leave as life long friends. 
In what ways do you push the boundaries and try to be ‘less ordinary’ with what you do/your company does?
I push the boundaries through both the food, and the venues I choose to host the supper clubs in. Truly authentic Mexican flavours are very hard to find in London; and tasting completely new flavours is always such an exciting experience. But then again, experiencing these flavours in wonderfully unique venues really take the experience to the next level. 
What do you love most about London? Is there anything in the city that motivates your creativity?
I love all of London’s hidden nooks and crannies; and also how Londoners’ are so open to less ordinary experiences. 
Is there a neighbourhood in London that you feel a real connection to? If so, which neighbourhood, and why? 
I love all of London but do find East London particularly compelling. The mixture of cultures is really exciting, and there are so many flavours in the air.
Who, what or where is grabbing your attention in London right now?  Who are the ‘less ordinary’ people, ideas, places, and experiences in town that you think deserve a shout? 
With the restaurant industry struggling, I still think that pop-ups and supper clubs have a lot to offer. Especially in terms of offering new flavours!
What trusted ‘less ordinary’ place in London do you find yourself going back to time and time again?
on Kingsland Road, The Marksman Pub, and Pidgin. Also, the vegan pizza shop filled with the scents of Ridley Road market, is particularly special. 
What are your ‘less ordinary’ hidden gems in London (places to sleep, eat, drink, hang) Why do you think it’s special? 
I love Pidgin, it is a delicious local eatery that serves up wonderful and unpretentious food.  

Hotel Carlota
Which ‘less ordinary’ B&Bs, hotels or apartments have you discovered and fell in love with in other cities you travel to?
Hotel Carlota
in Mexico City
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies
London’s culinary scene is probably one of the most competitive in the world, so when we come across true one-offs like Emily Rand, we know they are definitely worth shouting about. Pushing the boundaries of both food and the dining experience, Emily Rand is making waves, and does so without any pretense. 

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