I am way more the girl in the back of the room making sure things run to time and tweeting about them than sitting up front where people can see me. Effectively that’s part of the reason this blog exists, it was never about me it was because I want people to know about the cool stuff and talented people mixing drinks and cooking up fantastic food in Birmingham. But ever one to laugh in the face of her own comfort zone, when Square (more about them later) asked me if I fancied being in conversation with chef and TV personality Gizzi Erskine, I waved goodbye to my comfort zone and started thinking up some questions.
Gizzi was in Birmingham as part of a series of events being held at a pop-up shop in the Great Western Arcade. Square is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter, and is a payment service which aims to make it easier for independent traders to accept card payments by using a reader that connects to smartphones or tablets. As something which is designed to appeal to independent traders, Square invited Gizzi Erskine, creator of wildly popular pop-ups, to come and have a chat with us Brummies.
Talking to Gizzi is a wonderful whirlwind of conversation, which gave me some insight into what it must be like for my friends when I’m all excited about something and trying to get my words out at the same speed my brain goes. Honestly, I could’ve happily sat up there and prompted her to tell us more stories about her life and fantastic food career, ranging from a bohemian childhood full of exotic food to being at the forefront of the pop-up scene, her time at Leith’s Cookery school, and being on TV. I really enjoyed her candor, particularly around the topic of authenticity and believing in your passions. And all the talk of Korean fried chicken. My friend Amy summed up Gizzi well; “We could all imagine getting s***-faced with her on a Friday night down the Hare & Hounds.” – and turns out she’d lived in Moseley for a few years, so that’s not entirely impossible.
Gizzi warned me she has a tendency to go off on tangents, but they’re so utterly fascinating that it was worth letting her to hear more about her career – in fact I think we went well over the time allocation, but still managed a few questions from the audience, as well as a few I’d picked up from friends earlier.
Being up front meant I was mainly trying to practice some active listening, which makes it pretty tricky to commit to memory much of what we chatted about. And because I was busy being the ‘hostess with the mostess’, you might find these write ups by the lovely Brummie Gourmand and Gastronomic Gorman contain a bit more information. Ryan from Brummie Gourmand was an absolutely star and audio recorded the whole thing, so once I’ve worked out how to do sound editing, I’ll put the conversation up here.
Gizzi appeared at the Square pop-up shop in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade. Square enables millions of small and medium sized businesses around the world to take credit and debit card payments without monthly fees or long term commitments. There are only a few days left to visit Square’s first UK pop up in Great Western Arcade (between Colmore Row and Temple Row). Running until the 16th September, local business owners can get a free Square Reader worth £39 if they visit the pop up shop and sign up for Square in September.