• Watermelon and tomato salad

Food

A tomato tale

How Tracey Neuls and the head chef of the Ivy Café came together over a tomato plant

It is, in its spontaneity, creativity and generosity, the sort of community act that could only happen in Marylebone: one of the few places in London where the village spirit is not just clinging on, but growing—quite literally in the case of this sweet story from Tracey Neuls.

Regular visitors to Marylebone Lane may have noticed the tomato plant that’s been growing in the window of this idiosyncratic shoe shop over the past couple of months; indeed, it’s been hard to miss it, this plant being no mere potted number but an ‘installation’ surrounded by Tracey Neuls’ signature display of hanging shoes.

As such, it caught the eyes of many a passer-by as it grew—most notably Rod who, walking past the plant every day on his way to and from the Ivy Café where he works as head chef, was suddenly struck by the idea of giving it a ceremonial picking when the tomatoes were ripe.

Come the end of August, that day finally dawned and, true to his word, Rod came to the shop, picked the tomatoes, prepared and served one of his favourite seasonal dishes: a watermelon and tomato salad made, of course, with Tracey’s tender tomatoes. “It was delightful—like high performance art!” said Jane Howard, who works with Tracey. She sent us these snaps and a video, which we couldn’t resist sharing.