LONDON—Britain’s impending (and ever more uncertain) departure from the European Union has prompted some people to start preparing for the worst. Many of the country’s top retailers warn that in a worst-case scenario, lettuce and fresh fruit could disappear from supermarket shelves. A growing number of Britons have begun stockpiling goods at home. One website even creates a crisis shopping list for you.
Yotam Ottolenghi isn’t one of those people. The renowned Israeli-British chef does have his own reasons to be concerned about Brexit, though: His London restaurants and eponymous deli chain are known for incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients into their recipes and, like the rest of the country, a significant chunk of the fruits and vegetables he serves comes from continental Europe. For him, sourcing these things from across the Channel is only natural.
“A truck that brings flour or butter from northern France takes a journey that is as close as northern England,” he told me. “Europe is local, as far as we’re concerned.”
But it might not be for much longer. As Britain prepares to leave the EU—with no agreement ensuring an unimpeded flow of goods between the two yet in place—both sides are ramping up their no-deal preparations: a scenario rife with fears of supply-chain disruptions, increased food prices, and economic uncertainty. Ottolenghi fears the situation could upset the country’s esteemed food scene, as well its internationalist culture that has allowed his restaurants and others to thrive.