Sandwiched between Jamaican green grocers and chic French wine bars in Brixton Village is a little doorway. The sign above announces: “Guzzl”. Small but perfectly formed, Guzzl is like the larder you’ve always dreamt of…packed with piquant pickles, spilling over with interesting preserves, stacked with gourmet spreads.
While I’m inspecting a bottle of handmade beetroot ketchup, Guzzl’s owner Andrew comes over to offer me a taste of locally made salted caramel spread. Once my teeth have come unstuck from the heavenly mouthful, I manage to ask Andrew about the story behind the shop.
A newcomer to Brixton‘s buzzing independent quarter, Guzzl opened its doors just nine months ago. “I’ve lived in Brixton for fourteen years and absolutely love it here. But I always thought to myself that what this place needs is a fantastic deli,” Andrew explains.
“I often take my dog for walks round the area and once he befriended a Boston Terrier whose owner runs a gift shop in Brixton. We became friends too and it was he who encouraged me to make Guzzl a reality.” Andrew quit his job as Business Editor at the Independent on Sunday in 2007, moved into corporate communications before setting up shop, not looking back once.
“I’ve always loved food and I think Brixton is one of the best foodie hotspots in London. It’s a melting pot of different culinary traditions”. When I ask Andrew how he’d describe his cooking style, he considers, “Hmm…I’d call it: hearty fare”.
Guzzl showcases some of the UK’s most talented small producers, from artisan chocolate makers to speciality coffee roasters. Andrew laughs: “One of the best parts of the job is being able to go round all the best food fairs and farmers markets finding suppliers. I don’t really need to go out looking specifically for low-carbon, organic, ethical products…these are pretty much a given among the kinds of small, independent producers I work with.”
Apart from delicious homemade food and drinks, Guzzl also stocks everything else an environmentally conscious foodie could need: ecoffee cups, reusable water bottles, and stylish lightweight picnic hampers. “Big enough to fit two bottles of wine”, Andrew grins. Sounds like the kind of picnic I could get on board with.
On the shelves lines of expertly designed modern products are occasionally broken up by charmingly rusty old weighing scales and eclectic vintage lamps. Andrew is not only a regular at the UK’s best food fairs, but also at antique and car boot sales where he hunts for lamps to add to his collection.
I ask him which one product he’d save if the shop was burning down. He thinks for a while then replies: “It’d have to be the Coal Town Coffee. I start every day with one.” He offers me a cup of homemade lemonade from the machine whirring away by the counter as I carry on discovering the foodie treasures of South London in the cabinets. It’s not hard to see why Guzzl was chosen as one of Time Out London’s shops of the year for 2018, or why Andrew has already built up a loyal following of locals who stop by to stock up their cupboards with olive oils and jams.