Baj and Vaish: The Heart and Soul Behind 'Exploring London'
In the heart of London, a couple's passion for food and adventure turned into a thriving social media journey. Meet Baj and Vaish, the creative minds behind 'Exploring London', and First Table's newest Ambassador!
We caught up with the husband and wife duo, to find out more about their journey.
FT: Tell us a little bit more about yourselves - why London? How did you meet?
B & V: Hi, we’re Baj and Vaish, husband and wife and Londoners who’ve lived in London for most of our lives. We both studied at the same high school and that’s where we met, fell in love and the rest is history!
FT: What personal passions or life events sparked the creation of 'Exploring London'? Was there a moment when you knew this was more than just a hobby?
B & V: We started posting about our adventures around the city over 8 years ago whilst we were still dating. Vaish loved photography and editing and we were both in university at the time so it was a great form of procrastination from exams and assignments! The page got bigger and bigger over time and, very organically, this became our second jobs!
FT: In your culinary explorations across London, what's been the most surprising or unexpected discovery? Any moments that turned your dining expectations upside down?
B & V: This is a little bit of an annoying answer because this restaurant has actually closed in London (it’s now only open in New Delhi, India) but we will never forget our visit to a restaurant called Indian Accent in Mayfair. We were served their Blue Cheese Naan as an introductory course, the tiniest little circle, but it was absolute perfection and blew us away. It set our expectations so high and it’s still one of the best meals we’ve ever had. It’s world-famous and the chef himself jokes that it’s more famous than him. This experience really highlights how the tiniest little thing can completely change your entire perception of what a meal is going to be like!
FT: Everyone loves a good 'hidden gem'. Can you share a story of a time when you found a truly unique dining spot in London that wasn’t on anyone’s radar?
B & V: This is our favourite thing to post about, and there really are so many in London. There’s a place that is incredible and no one talks about it, it’s called Barge East and it’s a restaurant on a 118 year old Dutch Barge on the canal of Hackney Wick and they serve seasonal menus, the finest quality produce, and they handpick homegrown ingredients from their gardens for every dish. We went for our anniversary and it was truly phenomenal and we’d just stumbled across it when we were exploring Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park earlier that month!
FT: When visiting local eateries, have you had any memorable interactions with owners or chefs that gave you a deeper appreciation for their craft?
B & V: We love to speak with owners and chefs every time we visit a restaurant to review for the page because it genuinely gives such a flavour for what they’re about and we love to see the passion they have. We went to a little cafe in Marylebone called T by Tamara and Tamara told us about her dream to come to London to open her own cafe, serve homemade food, and seeing it all come to life and just how beautiful everything she served was, made us feel so privileged to be able to do this and meet so many wonderful people.
FT: Managing a popular channel 'Exploring London' while handling day-to-day responsibilities must be challenging. How do you find balance, and what keeps you motivated?
B & V: Thankfully, we do this together and always have done so, so it’s a lot easier to juggle things, bounce ideas off each other and keep each other going through the ups and downs. Our community is also wonderful and have always been so supportive which makes it so much easier to stay motivated.
FT: You’re in London for one day only, what are your top three must-dos?
B & V: This is so tricky! We’d say definitely a food market (e.g. borough market, old Spitalfields market, etc), an afternoon tea because it’s a British classic (The Lanesborough is our all-time favourite) and a viewing platform/rooftop bar (e.g. the Sky Garden or The Terrace at the Royal Opera House which looks out onto Covent Piazza).
FT: Who’s the best cook between you two? What are your go-to home-cooked meals?
B & V: Vaish has to be the better cook between us, but Baj loves to help out with the baking! We love paneer dishes in this household so we’re always doing different paneer curries!
FT: Can you share a story where food served as a bridge to connect with someone or learn something new about a culture or community in London?
B & V: We recently shared a New Zealand ice cream concept that we learned about through a fellow blogger - she’s a New Zealander who now lives in London and she’s created her own company, The Real Fruit Ice-cream Co, selling real fruit blended into ice cream - a delicacy she used to have back home. It’s a great example of food connecting us with someone we’ve followed for years, being able to support her business, but also giving us the opportunity to learn about and try a concept and culture that we knew nothing about before!
FT: Based on your experiences, are there any emerging trends in London’s food scene that you’re excited about?
B & V: We think the viral pastry/doughnut trend is so fun because the possibilities are endless! We’ve seen stuffed Korean milk doughnuts, the giant croissant and pain au chocolat, cube croissants, crème brûlée doughnuts… each one has been epic in its own right and we can’t wait to see what’s next!
FT: What was it about First Table that resonated with you personally and inspired you to join as a First Table ambassador? Was there a particular aspect of our mission that aligned with your values?
B & V: We felt that the fact that this wasn’t just a way to give customers a free win, and was rather also a way to support a restaurant, to get their first tables booked and drive more footfall overall, was so important. We truly believe in supporting restaurants around London because the food scene in London is like no other, it’s a huge melting pot of incredible talent and we think this platform really is so refreshing in this industry. We’re so proud to be working together.
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