Five Minutes with Axel Katalan of Julienne Bruno

Words by
Melanie Rickey

1st November 2022

It's World Vegan Day, so who better to have Five Minutes With than London based foodie, vegan, and entrepreneur Axel Katalan? He tells SPHERE why his new plant-based food brand Julienne Bruno finally blurs the line between “vegan food” and “good food,” and also shares the inside track on London’s best restaurants for vegans and food-lovers alike.

The launch of Julienne Bruno is the culmination of… seven years of polite persistence and a desire to create something people love. My background prior to the world of cuisine was tech. My deeper grasp of cuisine really kicked off when I joined Alan Yau, OBE, (who created Wagamama and Hakkasan) as a concept strategist. With him, I’ve learnt everything there is to know about the ideation of a food concept. 

Being so in love with creating plant-based food, my first idea was… a vegan burger brand, but after covid hit I wanted food people could bring into their home, or eat at fine dining restaurants. I began working on gourmand vegan cheese alternatives and Julienne Bruno was born. I spent eight months creating an early version of our cheese myself, and we built the team from there and found our first stockists. That brings us to where we are today, about to go live at Selfridges Food Hall and with numerous nationwide restaurants and retailers with collection 01.

We offer something unique in this space as a response to… hearing my friends remark “oh that’s nice for a “vegan” product”, as if there is a category of “food” and then “vegan food”. We set out to create products that everyone would love without the need of tagging it vegan or plant-based. We are all about good food. 

Julienne Bruno's plant-based Burella
Burella by Julienne Bruno, served on a bed of rocket with plum tomato

So far we offer...  three dairy free cheese replacements.  Our Burrella has a firm outer layer with a creamy inside. It’s meant to be eaten fresh out of the pot, placed on a beautiful bed of rocket with freshly cut plum tomatoes, a dash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sea salt. Our Crematta, is super versatile; great for pasta sauces, cheesecakes, frostings for cupcakes or just straight up with a spoon. Our Superstraccia goes great as generous dollops onto a freshly baked hot pipping marinara pizza. Or in sandwiches, or in pasta or puff pastry bakes! The use case is limitless. Practically any dairy based dish can be created with our collection 01, which gives that sense of boundless eating.

Superstraccia by Julienne Bruno

Superstraccia by Julienne Bruno

A gnocci dish featuring Julienne Bruno's Superstraccia

When I’m not running my business, you’ll find me... cooking for my partner, friends and family. Growing up in a Spanish/Turkish household, food and the table were always at the centre of each occasion. In Spanish we have a word called “sobremesa”, which translates to the talk you have after finishing the meal. That magical moment of comfort, tummy is full, surrounded by people you love, and just vibing and talking about anything and everything. 

My most treasured possession is... my little clay matcha whisking bowl.

My favourite place to travel to in the world is... Kyoto - Japan. There is a wonderful path called the Philosophers Walk, it takes the whole day to complete, and as the name suggests, it’s the perfect walk to ponder and daydream. 

The best meal I’ve ever eaten in London... too many, but I do love the fried dough cheung fun at Royal China Baker Street though. I was first introduced to Royal China by Alan Yau, it soon became our little get together on Sundays to talk about food & the future and everything in between. 

I buy my clothes from… Muji, I love all things Japanese. 

Crematta by Julienne Bruno

Julienne bruno's Crematta

Whipped plant-based Crematta by Julienne Bruno

I stay in shape by… running around London with piles of boxes and samples up and down the tube and to the extremities of each borough. I don’t think my friends class that as fitness, but you should see my step count after a “normal day” of work, today was 22,340 for example! 

My signature accessory is... an Oura ring. I was introduced to it by my partner Kate, who is a bit of a biohacker! The ring helps me track things like sleep, daytime heart rate, oxygen levels and much more. It has become a daily part of my life, checking in to see how certain foods, activities and events affect how my body reacts and what I can do to smooth out certain bits of stress that naturally comes with the journey of a startup. 

The highlight of my career so far has to be… serving our Burrella to a chef called Eyal Shani from Miznon, who I have admired for years. When he tried it and closed his eyes in pleasure, and said “this tastes like a single ingredient product - so milky”, I shed a tear, maybe a few. 

To do my job, I can’t do without... matcha! I always loved coffee but it gave me anxiety. I find with matcha I get a super focused rush of energy without the jitteriness. Plus I love the taste, and use my bowl and whisk to prepare it.  For me it's a ritual to slow down, and take a moment to savour something special. 

Julienne Bruno's Burella

Burella by Julienne Bruno

Julienne Bruno's Burella is available at Selfridges Food Hall and online

The podcast I last downloaded is Seedcamp by Carlos Eduardo Espinal on how to make employees healthier, happier, and more productive. It offers so many versatile tools in the journey of a startup. 

My guiltiest pleasure is… Spanish black olives. It wouldn’t be a guilty pleasure if I stopped after just a few but if I start I usually finish the whole pack. 

If I could tell 18 year old me one thing it would be…  stay humble but true to yourself. Ask, try, learn, do. Anything is possible, keep going. 

The next question on my mind is… the sweet side of our collection 01. Burnt Basque Cake. 

Top five restaurants in the UK to visit as a vegan, but above all a foodie are… My Neighbours The Dumplings, Gauthier Soho, Yamabahce, Holy Carrot Circolo Popolare

Discover Julienne Bruno