Street food at West India Quay
Street food at West India Quay

Banker Paul Mawdsley has blazed the ultimate foodie trail in Canary Wharf.

The Barclays director embarked on a munching marathon that other Wharfers have dreamt about but few have dared pursue.

He has eaten lunch from a different venue in Canary Wharf and nearby, with a neat spreadsheet to tell of his adventures with avocado, his temptation by tuna and his challenges with chicken Caesar salad.

A year on from his epic epicurean odyssey he reflects on his initial outlook. He thought he would be done by the spring yet he was still happily pursuing his quest with Pret festive baguettes.

How Paul got started

He tells his LinkedIn followers of the tale: “Inspired by a colleague who eats the same lunch from the same Canary Wharf shop pretty much every working day of the year, I decided to see for how long I could get my lunch from a different place each day before I had to repeat a venue.

“My initial expectation was I’d manage three or four months before exhausting all viable options, and I certainly wasn’t aiming or expecting to last a full year.

“But as I tuck into my sandwich on the last day of the year, I have somehow made it through an entire 12 months* without a repeat visit. I finish 2018 with a drawer full of single-stamp loyalty cards, a much improved knowledge of food outlets in the Canary Wharf area, and a hunger for Pret Christmas Lunch sandwiches, which I usually gorge on in December.”

No such challenge can be undertaken without rules. That way madness lies. So Paul has set out his in case he has attracted disciples.

The rules of the game

“I did allow myself a maximum of one ‘wildcard’ visit to my office restaurant a week if I couldn’t leave the desk over lunchtime, although I have used this quite sparingly – on average once every two weeks.

“Visiting a different branch of the same shop was not allowed, neither was use of Uber Eats or Deliveroo etc. The lunch had to be purchased from somewhere within sensible walking distance of my office in Canary Wharf, unless I was legitimately elsewhere on business.

“Thanks go to [pop-up venture] Kerb on the Quay for providing no fewer than 67 of the venues with their regularly refreshed line up of street food stalls.

Paul concludes: “May 2019 be the year that you break out of your own lunch rut.”

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