In a modest 3×2 metre shipping container in East London’s aptly named Boxpark, Chef King Cook serves up some of the best dressed bowls of veggies a Shoreditchian could ask for.
The restaurant, which opened in 2015, is part of a collection of mini retailers and restaurants “stacked up on top of each other like Lego”. Understated it may be however, this little metal box is getting a lot of attention.
Shoreditch, being a cultural trip in itself, is certainly no stranger to ‘unusual’ cuisines, but Cook is on a mission to normalize one – Vegan food.
With little less than a love of good eats and community, Cook’s vision is “to create a vibe in the London eating culture which just so happens to be vegan”. And he’s doing just that.
The tiny kitchen at Cook Daily busts out a huge variety of fresh dishes inspired by food from around the world. From a very British Chickn & Mushroom Pie to Caribbean soul food and spicy Asian noodles; King’s menu will have even the most decisive customers umming and ahhing.
Cook’s success is thanks to an usual combination of both making his food ‘normal’ and the support of big music stars. On twitter, Cook has gained the support of the likes of Emili Sandé, Professor Green and Skepta.
A regular visitor to restaurant is JME, described by Cook as a ‘former three McDonald’s-a-day man‘, who has switched to a plant-based diet after a lengthy late night google session. JME’s visits to Daily can cause somewhat of a lunchtime rush, as Cook comments ‘[a]ll it takes is JME to tweet and say ‘I’m at Cook Daily’ and I’ve got 50 young boys in here‘.
Famous musicians aside, Cook draws in a lot of people who wouldn’t feel comfortable going to other ‘healthy’ London restaurants. Speaking of kids who choose Cook Daily over nearby fast-food spots, Cook claims ‘[t]hey’re not gonna go to a juice bar in Notting Hill! But they will come here.‘ He hopes to show people that veganism isn’t just about white, middle class people and says that encouraging other kids to come in is about ‘making them know: bruv, I wasn’t born vegan, I don’t really know anyone that was born vegan. We’re in the same boat.‘
And what does Cook get out of it?: ‘Kids with tracksuits are eating Cook Daily rather than McDonalds…what more could I want?’