From shelling peas with her grandparents to diving for lobster, Laura Harper-Hinton’s childhood growing up in New Zealand was not only rich in food experiences but also primed with memorable family feasts. Fusing family and her passion for food, Laura, her husband Chris Ammermann and friend Miles Kirby opened the first Caravan in 2010. Since then their pioneering all-day dining concept has taken the capital by storm and grown to a family of 5 restaurants. Whether it be their in-house roasted craft coffee, a firm-favourite with sleep-deprived mamas, or their small plates, perfect for introducing little ones to new flavours and global ingredients – Caravan is a firm favourite when it comes to fuss-free family dining.
Between travelling the world with her two sons and supporting the next generation of hospitality entrepreneurs back at home, Laura took ten with us to reveal where she makes a bee-line for when it comes to feeding her family…
1. I’d like a table for…
Faviken in Sweden!
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
640 East, Canary Wharf – these guys do a great job!
3. Best brunch with kids?
I have to say any Caravan! King’s Cross is great as you have the fountains outside for kids to run through afterwards.
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
I always thought Jamie Oliver did a great job with kids menus – healthy stuff always included as well. Wahaca are great with theirs too – build your own taco is really fun and interactive. And E&O is great – we are always trying to get our kids to experience lots of different cuisines and the kids menu there is great – noodles, tempura veggie’s, fried rice, dumplings!
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
If it’s just the mums, we often go to our local cocktail bar – The Shop, they serve food too, but more importantly for hard working mums – delicious cocktails.
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
We try and do something ‘culture’ and something ‘nature’ on both days of the weekend for the kids. Black Country Park in Buckinghamshire is great for a forest walk, followed by picnic lunch by the lake. The National Gallery is good – we choose one painting to discuss in depth and engage with and then pretty much leave – our kids are younger so less is more at that age!
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
For young kids – Bring cards, colouring in books to entertain them to begin with, order pretty much as soon as you sit down for them. Don’t try to drag it out too long! Get in and out and everyone is winning.
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Loving Brat currently.
9. My earliest food memory…
Shelling peas and broad beans by the creek on my grandparents farm (Canterbury Plains in New Zealand) in preparation for Christmas dinner.
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
Jane O’Riordan (total hospitality legend and just joined our board as our Chair, super fun person, super bright and experienced), Michelle Obama, Patti Smith, Maya Angelou and Gloria Steinem.
BUY CARAVAN: DINING ALL DAY
It begins with morning brews, healthy breakfasts and unbeatable brunches; next up are fresh lunchtime salads, soups, vegetables and grains, then a pause for afternoon bakes, before rounding the day off with stunning dinners, puddings and of course cocktails on the side. Tuck into Caravan’s bold flavours and global influences in your own home with their relaxed and approachable recipes – buy your copy here.