Jennifer Yong: founder Jenius Social

27 Jan

Everyone has a story. Tucked behind Holloway Tube off Hornsey Street is a chic, airy space designed for greeting, meeting and eating. You can hire the kitchen; learn how to judge coffee like a pro; even get to grips with filleting fish. Jenius Social founder Jennifer Yong explains how her new business is settling into Islington.  Interview by Nicola Baird.

Jennifer Yong founder of Jenius Social which connects people through food. “We get people together through food. People are typically aged from their late 30s-50s, but there’s no typical person, although they are usually interested in food! In January we had a lot of people who’d been given gift vouchers at Christmas.” Photo by Sam Awad.

Jennifer Yong founder of Jenius Social which connects people through food. “We get people together through food. People are typically aged from their mid 20s to 50s, but there’s no typical person, although they are usually interested in food! In January we had a lot of people who’d been given gift vouchers at Christmas.” Photo by Sam Awad.

Around 10 years ago Jennifer Yong, 37, moved from Perth, Australia to London. At first she was happy working in the finance world but gradually she decided she wanted to be the boss. After two years refining her business plan and hunting for the perfect location she opened Jenius Social – a way of connecting people through food. There are classes every day (except Monday and Tuesday) offering the opportunity to learn and cook, or learn a bit more about something you enjoy (eg, wine or beer) or just to eat at the monthly supper club.

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Jennifer Yong: “I’ love food but I’m not an expert, I bring in experts. I’ve learnt so much - I road test the classes so I’ve been a student and sometimes I also cook with my guests.” Photo by Sam Awas XXX

Jennifer Yong: “I’ love food but I’m not an expert, I bring in experts. I’ve learnt so much – I road test the classes so I’ve been a student and sometimes I also cook with my guests.” Photo by Sam Awad.

“I wanted to do something different and this fuses two of my favourite things – food and socialising. I’m passionate about food, not just eating it, learning about it. There’s a good chance that if people pay to join a coffee class then they will be meeting like-minded people!” explains Jennifer.

“I like meeting new people. In London it’s a bit difficult to meet people: you do it at work, or through friends of friends, on line or at a bar. Here we group people so they can socialise and talk through food. It’s not dating it’s just a chance to meet interesting people you’d have never met.”

 

Sacred Cafe is a key place to meet people working close to Islington Studios and Hornsey Street. Jennifer Yong: “I’ love food but I’m not an expert, I bring in experts. I’ve learnt so much - I road test the classes so I’ve been a student and sometimes I also cook with my guests.”xxx

Sacred Cafe is a key place to meet people working close to Islington Studios and Hornsey Street. Jennifer Yong: “I used to work at Sacred Cafe before Jenius Social opened.”

Places Jennifer Yong likes in Islington

  • “I don’t know the area well yet. But I walk along Holloway Road to work. I like the independent coffee shops and the quirky secondhand shops selling furniture.”
  • “Sometimes I walk from Angel through the back streets because the architecture is amazing. There are beautiful houses in Barnsbury.”
  • “I like to go to the Angelic pub, next to the big Sainsbury’s at Angel. The owner, Sarj, has done the same thing as me, but 10 years before, so it’s good talking to him.”
  • “I sometimes go to the House of Wolf on 181 Upper Street or the Horatia pub on 98-102 Holloway Road.”
  • The Pig & Butcher has amazing Sunday lunches, but you have to book.”  80 Liverpool Road, N1
Jenius Social.

Jenius Social – just minutes from Holloway Road tube. Photo by Sam Awad.

Since Jenius Social opened in summer 2014, at Hornsey Street which now has 600 flats and 50 commercial units, Jennifer has run cheesemaking classes, butchery, wine tasting, cocktail making and nose to tail eating where you learn how to cook using all bits of an animal. Jennifer’s concept is very elastic – she’s as happy hosting a corporate away day as running private. “I did a lot of research and for customers convenience is very important – Hornsey Street has very good public transport.”

With food being such a passion in Islington – just look at the choice of restaurants on Upper Street – it seems like Jennifer has hit upon a genius idea. So if you want to learn more about food, hire a venue for a private party or give a voucher to a friend Jenius Social might be the perfect match.

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

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This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or jobs to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola

 

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