Hackney Wick floating restaurant wins Catey award

Much-loved Hackney Wick boat turned eatery, Barge East.

Much-loved Hackney Wick boat turned eatery, Barge East, has been awarded a catering award for Best Newcomer. - Credit: Barge East

A Hackney Wick floating restaurant has won a Catey award for Best Newcomer. 

Boat turned eatery Barge East won the award on September 7. 

The Catey awards is a UK ceremony for the hospitality industry that has been running since the 1980s. Recipients are nominated and awarded through The Caterer Magazine.

Given the challenges the industry has faced over the past couple of years, the team were overjoyed for the win.

Barge East owner Stuart “Tommo” Thomson said: “It was hosted by Jools Holland, so we were delighted to get given the award by him.

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"It was a hugely supportive event and a bit of a celebration for hospitality to be back in business."

The Newcomer award is for businesses that are new to the hospitality industry, owned for less than three years.

Tommo’s restaurant, which is a converted 118 year old Dutch barge, uses organic, fresh produce grown onsite in their gardens, and also has a unique story behind it.

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Tommo, who worked for an NGO, sought the help of his childhood friends, Ryan Craig, a chef, and Rob Blandy, a physiotherapist. 

“About four years ago I saw a spot of derelict land by the canal in Hackney Wick and I thought it would just make the ideal spot for a bar and restaurant which was based around a boat," he said. 

The trio's search took them to Holland, to a boat called De Hoop, which at the time had holes in its hull.

Despite this and not having a huge budget, the trio bought the boat, and Thomson and Craig then sailed the vessel from Holland to its new home in Hackney.

“We refurbished what was a complete wreck of a boat into a bar and restaurant,” he added.

"So there's been a lot of work and love into the project, but obviously we were delighted to win the Catey award, which is a fantastic recognition of the adventure that got us to Hackney Wick.”

The boat was restored using reclaimed materials, and sustainability is a huge part of the team’s ethos.

The team is now planning to work with Truman's Brewery on a special Barge East brew made from hops grown in the restaurant's canal-side garden

And the beer isn’t the only boozy surprise, as Mr Thomson tells us they are also planning to grow one of London’s first vineyards.

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