BUSINESS is booming for the boys behind Bosh!, the social media sensation that has taken the vegan world by storm. Co-creators and self-taught cooks Ian Theasby and Henry Firth have already racked up two million followers on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
And the pair are riding the crest of a culinary wave as their cookery demonstrations, filmed in their own kitchen, receive a staggering 25million views each month.
They have also produced their own cookbook — a collection of their most popular recipes, such as Jerk Jackfruit and Plantain Pizza, Rogan Bosh and Cauliflower Buffalo Wings.
Ian and Henry met at school when they were 11 years old. They now live and work together, along with another schoolmate and Henry’s fiancée, in a rented, four-storey new-build house in Hammersmith, west London. They moved there in May after plumbing problems forced them out of their home in Mile End.
‘A tap had been leaking under a kitchen work surface,’ explains Ian. ‘The water had soaked into the wall, travelled down and popped the skirting boards off, so we had to move out at short notice.’
They looked at 20 houses across London before choosing their current base of operations. It looks like a show home: tidy and barely furnished. And that’s the way they like it.
Naturally, food preparation was a key consideration on their list of must-haves. Kitchen features include a waste-disposal unit, boiling water tap, wine fridge and five-burner hob, and they’re excited to have an industrial-strength extractor fan. ‘It’s the first remote-controlled extractor fan we’ve had,’ Ian enthuses.
The patio has a pizza oven and barbecue, with further outside space from a rooftop terrace. ‘We have pizza parties from time to time and we’re experimenting with growing tomatoes and herbs out there,’ says Henry.
The stripped-back kitchen has dozens of ingredients on metal shelves. ‘We can immediately see what we have,’ says Henry. ‘We don’t want to scrabble around in cupboards looking for things.’
They’ve been living together since 2012, when Ian moved into Henry’s flat in Highbury. Having both gone vegan in 2015 — first Ian, initially for an experimental month, then Henry — they launched Bosh! in 2016.
But it’s not just a joint dietary journey, it’s also an aesthetic one. The only decorative object in the house is a wine rack carved by Henry’s fiancée’s father as an engagement present. Other than that it’s resolutely minimalist.
‘We’ve both been through a process of getting rid of stuff,’ says Henry. ‘My room in my parents’ house was full of stuff: trinkets from holidays and music posters all over the walls. As we’ve got older we’ve got rid of everything, it’s quite cleansing,’ Ian adds.
‘I had a big box of memories,’ says Henry. ‘Childhood photos, cards from ex-girlfriends, football trophies. I went to a rubbish dump two years ago and threw it all away.
‘The stuff you carry around is in your brain. Once you’ve cleansed it you’ve got less baggage. This house is minimal, relaxed and clutter-free.’
But Henry had a different approach when the pair first became flatmates. ‘His flat was full of stuff,’ smiles Ian. ‘Shedloads of stuff…’
‘And not great decoration,’ says Henry. ‘It was teal and gold. I got Kevin McCloud’s book Colour, which is all about colour and paint, and I went on a decorating spree. I put colour all over this tiny two-bedroom flat. I thought it looked cool at the time but…’
‘When you coupled the colour together with all the stuff it got quite claustrophobic,’ says Ian.
With the huge success of their vegan recipes they are considering getting on to the property market — possibly buying somewhere together. But as self-employed people, not having three full years of accounts may be an impediment to getting a mortgage.
When the time comes, their ideal place would be a big warehouse conversion, but buying is a plan for the future while they focus on business.
‘A property would be nice but it’s secondary to writing books and getting our recipes out there,’ says Ian.
‘We’re passionate about what we’re doing. We feel with every recipe we come up with we’re helping more people eat more plants, which is our life mission now. It’s good for all of that to be under one roof so we are always working on it.’
Mushroom & Guinness pie
■ 2,700g chestnut mushrooms
■ 3 tbsp olive oil
■ 4 onions
■ 6 garlic cloves
■ 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus extra to decorate
■ 3 sprigs fresh thyme
■ 1 tbsp light brown sugar
■ 300ml Guinness or other stout or brown ale
■ 2½ tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
■ 1-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
■ 25ml dark soy sauce
■ 1 x 500g block ready-made dairy-free puff pastry
■ 2 tbsp dairy-free margarine
■ Salt and black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray. You’ll need a 20-22cm deep pie dish, a rolling pin (or use a clean, dry wine bottle), a pastry brush and a large frying pan on a medium heat.
2. Quarter and spread the mushrooms over the lined baking tray. Drizzle with one tablespoon of the oil, season lightly and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. When they’re ready, remove and set aside, reserving any juices.
3. Meanwhile, add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to the frying pan. Peel and slice the onions, peel and finely chop the garlic, add to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Reduce the temperature to medium-low.
4. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme by running your thumb and forefinger from the top of the base of the stems: the leaves should easily come away. Finely chop, discarding the stalks. Add to the pan along with the sugar and cook for 10 more minutes, until the onions are golden.
5. Pour in the Guinness, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes so the liquid reduces. Reduce the heat to low and add the mushrooms plus any juices in the tray. Add flour, mustard and soy sauce and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, mustard or soy sauce if you like. Leave to cool slightly then spoon the mushroom mixture into the pie dish.
6. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it’s big enough to cover the top of the pie dish. Brush the rim of the dish with water and lay the pastry over the top. Cut off the excess pastry and crimp the edges of the pastry, either by pinching it between your finger and thumb all the way round, or by pressing it against the dish with the back of a fork.
7. Melt the dairy-free margarine in the microwave and brush it all over the pastry. Use a small sharp knife to cut a little cross in the centre of the pastry, so steam can escape. Top with a few rosemary sprigs. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, remove and serve hot.
■ Recipe taken from Bosh!, out now published by HarperCollins, £20