Restaurant popped up in a tipi

Tim Zekki

Tim Zekki - Credit: Archant

Chef Tim Zikki recently hosted a pop-up tapas evening in a huge tipi in the grounds of Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden.

The exterior of the tipi

The exterior of the tipi - Credit: Archant

It was in a lovely rural location near the FoodSmiles community garden and proved a very special experience.

Tim is calling his series of pop-up events “Duende”, which reflects the tapas nature of the food. Apparently Duende is the hardest Spanish word to translate to English, but the sense is of spontaneity and passion.

Tim has run pop-ups in London and around the Chilterns, and was a Gary Rhodes’ Local Food Hero on UKTV. Since moving to the Chilterns in 2013 Tim has popped-up as The Lop-Eared Pig in an old tractor barn on a farm, and as the original guest chef of the Temperance Social Eating House in Chesham Old Town in 2014.

So far Tim has taken Duende to Chesham, Ballinger, Hyde Heath, Ashley Green, Hastoe, Great Missenden, with events in Albury and Bray coming up.

There are plans to make this a regular event locally and I think it would be a big success; if they can find a location in St Albans that would be great too!

Guests were presented with lots of little dishes, with ideas from Spanish food and from all around the Mediterranean.

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Tim explained: “It’s rather like when you go on holiday to a remote village and are simply brought the food that the chef is cooking that night.”

The hot and cold dishes used fresh seasonal ingredients, and there was plenty choice for vegetarians and those eating gluten-free.

Matt Dowling is the man behind the giant tipis, and told me that they are based on traditional Sami dwellings from northern Scandinavia. The tipis are constructed from solid spruce wooden poles with plenty of space for their long rustic tables and benches. If an evening gets chilly, the fire pit in the centre is quick to warm the space. You might know Matt as he is married to Jay who owns and runs Jay’s Deli in Southdown, Harpenden. Matt and business partner Paul own The Natural Tent Company and you can hire the tipi for parties if you have the space.

I’d love this to be a regular event in the local area; more pop-ups please!