LONDON — With two cookbooks, a TV franchise, their own branded vegetable spiralizer and now a debut café at Selfridges in London, there appears to be no stopping green-and-lean advocates the Hemsley sisters.
Former model Jasmine Hemsley and her younger sister Melissa Hemsley, a former restaurant marketer, launched their business five years ago, proclaiming the benefits of nutrient-dense whole foods free from gluten, refined sugar and hydrogenated oil.
The menu at the Hemsley + Hemsley café at Selfridges’ new Body Studio is stacked with ingredients from small producers, such as Fairking Great British Seeds, and offers post-workout fare, including steaming mugs of the duo’s cult, nourishing bone broth.
For breakfast, there are sausages and eggs on flaxseed rolls, with probiotic ketchup — no greasy British fry-ups here. Beetroot Bloody Marys come from the bar, which serves organic cocktails and biodynamic wines. Later in the day, they cook up spiced chicken stew and cauliflower rice, and tabbouleh with crispy bits of chicken skin on top.
For dessert there’s carrot cake made from ground almond flour, with frosting made from live yogurt infused with vanilla and raw honey.
The café’s interiors are clad in natural wood and customers eat at a big communal table. While there may be plants lining the upper walls of the space, the feel is resolutely urban.
“Nothing’s too rustic,” said Jasmine. “Although it’s great to go back to farms and cottage gardens for our ingredients, we wanted to embrace the fact that we choose to live in a metropolis.”
The brand started as a bespoke catering company: Jasmine would bring her own food on shoots and that eventually led to private commissions. Melissa quit her job to join the business.
“In the modeling industry I was exposed to all these contradictory ideas about health and diet,” said Jasmine, adding that low-fat eating did not chime with their mother’s home cooking. They put the focus on health and satisfaction, creating dishes such as cauliflower rice, courgetti (zucchini) ribbons and paradise bars, a mix of coconut and vanilla dipped in 85 percent cocoa solid chocolate.
The sisters have no formal training and created dishes intuitively, building a word-of-mouth reputation through supper clubs before starting a blog. They launched their first book, “The Art of Eating Well,” two years ago followed by “Good + Simple,” which was published earlier this year.
They have cooked for brands including Louis Vuitton — an Alice in Wonderland-themed lunch — and for the British label Mother of Pearl — a small dinner in a Soho art gallery, where buckwheat bread, beetroot and goat’s cheese terrine were on the menu.
Melissa said one of their best gigs was a house party for Matthew Williamson. “We thought people weren’t going to eat much, as it started at 9.30 p.m. but, oh my gosh, they devoured the food and guests were still arriving at 2 a.m. asking for more of our avocado and lime cheesecake.”
The cafe will open at the Body Studio on Monday.