words by Jacqueline Hoffman
When I was first told that John was going to be on the OFF-BIKE podcast, I couldn’t help but secretly wish for a Portuguese fish stew cooked by John. Obviously, didn’t want to make it too obvious that most weekend-mornings during lockdown was spent watching John and Lisa cook one delicious dish after another. So, I made myself some toast and started planning a day out on the Brompton bikes with David and John.
When the planning began, I had all windows open, feeling the summer heat dance through the apartment. Somehow, this feeling makes you trust that the weather will never change. Well, it did. I woke up on the morning of the interview looking out the window with grey skies and patchy rain. The debate whether to ride or get the train started, and while I was doing that, I dug out my boots and a warmer jacket. Arriving at Kaffeine near Regents Park, I'm looking to see if I can spot John, David and Sean our photographer. I’d told everyone to bring bikes, but somehow decided to be the diva without a bike myself. John is the first one there, sitting outside in an orange jacket drinking a black coffee. He’d already clocked that the staff at Kaffeine are Australian – he himself hailing from such a place in Australia. Having never met John, I was relieved it didn’t feel awkward. In fact, quite the opposite, John is a born storyteller and so it begins.
"Have you ever taken the night bus in London?" It's enough to make you start cycling
John moved to the UK from Australia in 1990s and started working in restaurants from pretty much the day he touched down. He has presented Master Chef, Master Chef Junior/Professional, Saturday Kitchen Live, John and Lisa’s Weekend Kitchen … the list goes on. When asked why he started cycling John responded: “Have you ever taken the night bus in London”? I personally haven’t. Growing up in Copenhagen, and spending the past seven years in Nice, my transportation has always been a bike. But in the best storyteller way, John explains how the night bus very quickly made him switch to the bike. “It was a great way to exercise before and after work. But mostly, I couldn’t stomach getting on the drunk-mobile. I’d get out of a long shift from the kitchen, and cycling home was an excellent way to wind down and clear the head.” John goes on to explain how he never used to ride a bike in Sydney. "The city isn’t built for two-wheels commuters, unless you like the thrill..."
Since switching from night bus to bike, John is using his bike for commuting and exercising with friends and family. John goes on to share how he loves going out riding with his son. Riding side by side somehow makes it easier to have deeper and more meaningful conversations. Conversations, you wouldn’t necessarily feel confident having face to face. There is something freeing when you’re together on your bikes on country lanes. The feeling that nothing is off limits.
At this point, David has arrived, and the storytelling continues. It’s obvious to see that there is a great connection between the two. The CHPT3 x Brompton bikes are being readied and the sun is finally coming out, it’s clear blue sky. We’re off to Regents Park where David and John continue to chat and more coffee is had...