My Life Courting Food Halls

Harrods food hall as I fondly rememberer it
Since a small boy I have been romantically involved with food halls. I always had a big crush on them. What exactly are food halls? Often they are an important part of a department store.They’re more than food courts in shopping malls. Inside there can often be restaurants; specialty purveyors, producers and artisans selling from small footprint stalls or franchised businesses. They are more than a grocery or a farmer’s market, although it is still usually possible to buy basic ingredients there.
The concept has ancient roots. Trajan’s Market, built in second century by the Emperor Trajan, was one of the earliest and largest covered shopping precincts. Built partly into the side of a hill, it was up to six stories in some parts, featuring warehouses, offices, living quarters and an arcade-like array of shopping stalls called tabernae on the lower levels. 
The narrow, stall-based shops of the The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, arguably the oldest continually operating permanent market, also influenced today’s food halls. Established 1461, the Grand Bazaar survived fires and earthquakes, housing thousands of specialty shops for everything under the sun, including spices, kebabs and sweets.
Across Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century however, saw the real birth of department stores as we know them today and it wasn’t long until food halls became a part of the establishment.
In the Uk It all started with a humble cup of tea.189 years ago an ambitious young man from Clacton by the name of Charles Henry Harrod opened a tea merchant and small grocery shop in Stepney, east London. Charles Harrod was born in Lexden, a smart parish in the suburbs of Colchester in Essex in 1799.
In his youth, Harrod worked as a miller in Clacton-on sea, now more famous as being the brexiteer capital of The UK. In 1834 he relocated to London where he began selling groceries in Stepney.

During the 1840s he rented a small shop on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, which became known as "Harrods". The shop sold groceries and only had a turnover of about £20 per week, during the 1850s when Knightsbridge became one of the most fashionable parts of London.The enterprise expanded in the late 1800s, and many new departments were added.
In 1860 Charles sold the business to his son, Charles Digby Harrod. The trade of Harrods continued to increase and by 1868 the shop had sixteen staff and the turnover had increased to £1,000 per week. Harrod concentrated on encouraging wealthy people to visit his store and provided a personalised service for important customers.Harrods’ motto, Omnia, omnibus, ubique, that is, "Everything, for everyone, everywhere," surely applies to its recently remodeled food halls, which offer fresh artisan baked bread popping out of the oven every 15 minutes and a "tea tailor" who can mix a custom tea blend just for you which can be reordered anytime.
Fast forward three decades, zoom in on Knightsbridge, and you'll see two silhouettes, one little, one large, making a very committed beeline to a very specific place: Harrods. The figures are my mother and I and we are not heading towards The "Way In" fashion boutique,( that came later sans mother) the perfume counters or even the toy department, but the Food Hall.
When I was young, the Harrods Food Hall cast wonderment over me. Gilded shelves bore gorgeously wrapped packs of puffball marshmallows; shiny glass panes sheltered the exotic treats of the delicatessen from prying ankle biters hands. We would leave with a clutch of almost too-beautiful-to-eat treats, always including chocolates – my mother claimed they were the best in London.
As a child it was always a great treat for me to be taken to a department store, particularly if it was John Lewis, but Harrods was the bees knees. 
Harrods may be London's most well-known food hall among tourists, but Fortnum & Mason is the go-to spot for many Londoners. Perhaps it has something to do with the unabashed emphasis on all things culinary. Unlike most food halls, which occupy one floor of a department store, Fortnum & Mason devotes three of its five floors to food. Two of those make up the food hall, with the basement dedicated to grocery items and the ground floor for specialty foods and gifts.

As with Harrods, you know the moment you step into Fortnum & Mason that this is no place for bargain hunters. The hall takes upscale to a whole new level, with chandeliers and an ornate spiral staircase.
The displays of speciality foods are artfully arranged on cherry-wood stands with brass accents. Caviar and truffles are housed in a humidity-controlled cabinet, while Scottish beef ages in dry-curing cabinets.
If you haven´t already caught the waft, the hall is especially known for its extensive selection of teas and coffees (the extremely knowledgeable staff can help you navigate the options), its gift foods like marmalades and chocolates, and—the ultimate gift—its "hampers," wicker picnic baskets filled with all kinds of all sorts.
In 1977 Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca, two passionate gay food connoisseurs, opened Dean and Deluca, a culinary mecca, in the heart of New york´s SOHO.

This high-end food emporium was the first to link the world of fine foods with art and design. It launched a revolutionary trend in modern kitchen design and lifestyle that soon became known as the “loft look.”Some have credited the Dean and DeLuca aesthetic — white walls, white tile floors, and butcher block counters accesorized by stainless steel and chrome elements — with inspiring a contemporary revolution in home kitchen aesthetics. Joel saw to it that there was a common ground between the food and the design, This untouchable look, alongside the marked up prices, led some to refer to the store as a “food museum.” This kind of Grocers shop had never been seen before.

The Biba brand in London had launched its own label food range four years earlier in September 1973.This very much followed the fashion of the time and backed up the brands main creation, a retro fashion line that was innovative but in no way the front runner for a new lifestyle movement 

Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge however were the first to take a leaf or two from the Dean and Deluca catalogue when they launched their 5th Floor shopping experience in 1994.A new restaurant, café, bar and food market, designed by architects Wickham and Associates,opened on the fifth floor, with a direct access express lift which allowed for later opening hours after the main store closed.The design led food packaging was synonymous with and very much emulated what had been seen in New York 17 years earlier. Sadly today Dean and Deluca no longer exists.
The future direction of Harvey Nichols under new management looks questionable? Another day, another nepo-baby in the ascendent. But when we’re talking about the 29-year-old who has just taken the helm at Harvey Nichols, even the most Abfab Botoxed eyebrows will be raised.

Cheese lovers are catered for with tasting sessions inside the walk-in cheese room

October 3rd 2007, tailored to the tastes of urban shoppers, we saw John Lewis Oxford Street launch an emporium for food lovers, jam  packed with seasonally-sourced and speciality foods. In the 17,000-square-foot foodhall, an assortment of everyday grocery items alongside indulgent artisan foods is on offer.You’ll find everything from dressed lobsters, to succulent cuts of the finest free-range British pork, right through to freshly-prepared baguettes, espressos and salads for those whose mindset is lunch on the run. Cheese lovers are catered for with tasting sessions inside the walk-in cheese room, filled with over 1000 of the finest cheeses from England and Europe. Well that was the last time I was there.The dreaded "B" word has thrown the cheddar gorgeous among the dolcelatte vitas. You can navigate the aisle after aisle for seasonal groceries, as well as choosing from an appetising selection of meal options - whether it’s a picnic in the park on a sunny Saturday, desktop dining for a weekday office lunch or a 3-course dinner at-home.

As long as I can remember Marks and Spencer have played an important part in Food hall culture.
The St Michael brand name was introduced in 1927 and Simon Marks registered it as a trademark in 1928, naming it after his father Michael Marks. The St Michael label was a quality mark, showing that the item it was attached to was made exclusively for M&S, and not sold by any other companies.

By 1950 and for the next fifty years, almost all goods sold by Marks & Spencer used the St Michael brand. The brand was dropped in 2000 as part of a general rebranding.

Elsewhere in the world
In America grabbing a bite to eat while shopping usually means heading to the food court and choosing between greasy hamburgers and even greasier pizza. But throughout the rest of the world, department stores pride themselves on their food halls, offering gourmet food that's a far cry from your standard fast food.
Whether high-end and sophisticated or affordable and buzzing with energy, these halls all share a reverence for food that makes them as much of a destination as the department stores they're attached to.
No trip to Berlin is truly fulfilled without visit to Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) Department Store.
Berlin's KaDeWe may be Europe's largest department store, Berlin's Harrods! This shop is amazing! Towering high above the roofs of Berlin—with over 30 gourmet food stands and an oyster bar, the Mecca for gourmets. Here connoisseurs can choose from around 34,000 different items, including 3,400 wines from every continent and more than 1,300 varieties of cheese. A further highlight is the fish and seafood section that next to the local-fish also has exceptionally fancy specialties on offer.

KaDeWe is short for Kaufhaus des Westens, which translates to Department Store of the West—a fitting name for what's believed to be the largest department store in continental Europe. The entire sixth and seventh floors are dedicated to food, with the main food hall on Floor 6 and the "winter garden" eating area, with windowed walls looking out over the city, on Floor 7.
Feel the need to peruse 1300 varieties of cheese?
As the advertisements boast, the hall has more than two football fields of space. That means about 23,000 square feet of fresh produce, cheese, meats, sweets, chocolates, coffee, and breads. KaDeWe is known for its huge selection of local cheeses, meats, and—perhaps most fun of all—sausages from each region of Germany.
When you've had your fill of currywurst, eisenbock wurst, and Rostbratwurst, finish off with a trip to the room devoted entirely to chocolate truffles.
Feel the need to peruse 1300 varieties of cheese? Or splurge thousands of Euros on a bottle of vintage champagne?
Whether you go to simply ogle, or sit down and eat at one of the many in-house food stands, a visit to this culinary emporium won't fail to amaze and delight.

The Future Food Halls
Food markets are an integral part of the Parisian food experience. The changing food-buying and dining habits over the last century have sadly led to destruction of some of the city’s best markets, like those which once stood at Les Halles in central Paris. However, in recent years, the concept of food markets is being reinvented for the 21st century as a new wave of food halls sees daylight… and in true Parisian style. Also, with the arrival of the largest of its kind in Europe baptized Food Society, the trend doesn’t seem to be cooling down.

Time out markets
Time Out Markets bring the best of cities together under one roof: the best chefs, drinks and cultural experiences – all based on Time Out’s editorial curation.
The concept is the world’s first editorially curated food and cultural market, bringing the Time Out brand to life with the best local food and drinks complemented by cultural activities – from cooking classes with top chefs to art from local talent and live entertainment. Time Out Markets also offer new, innovative “in real life” opportunities for advertising clients.
In 2014, Time Out Lisbon’s editorial team created Time Out Market Lisbon which – with over 4m visitors a year – quickly turned into one of the most popular destinations in the city. Deeply rooted in the heritage of Time Out, Time Out Market is a perfect brand extension as its “best of the city” curation is now also being brought to life in physical locations.The success of Lisbon brought 
further expansion and the portfolio currently includes six Markets: in addition to Lisbon, there are sites in New York, Boston, Montreal, Chicago and Dubai. More Time Out Market locations are in the pipeline as the global expansion continues.
The current pipeline for eight new Markets, in addition to six existing locations, has expected opening dates.
The success of the food hall fits well with the demands of today’s diners and shoppers. At a local food hall, customers have access to a wide variety of dishes, ingredients and products all under one roof. Diners appreciate greater access to chefs and chef-driven menus and an opportunity to try something new at a reasonable price. Large groups can satisfy picky diners with a plethora of options. And the central seating makes for a lively, social experience with plenty of buzz. Critics say the food hall model does a disservice to dining by trying to be everything to everyone and diluting restaurant loyalty, but time will tell.


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