‘WHEN A TORNADO MEETS A VOLCANO’



Allegra Handelsman has inherited many of the fine qualities that took her parents to huge success – on first appearance, she has the cool, calm, demure and modest demeanour of her mother, top lifestyle PR Elizabeth Crompton-Batt; dig a little deeper and Allegra has all the independence, resilience and dynamism of her father, leading developer and hotelier, Harry Handelsman. As Eminem famously wrote, and applies to Allegra here, ‘this is what happens when a tornado meets a volcano’… a young woman of contrasts – one day an oasis of beauty and calm, the next, if the occasion demands it: ‘A real firecracker’!



Allegra was brought up in an environment where the media was crucial to the success of her parents (below, right) and their clients; while Elizabeth profiled restaurants on behalf of clients such as Nobu Matsuhisa and Alan Yau, Harry took his ‘Manhattan Loft Corporation’ to great heights…



It was natural for Allegra to absorb what was going on in the world by osmosis, minute by minute, and from an early age, therefore it was probably an obvious choice for her to decide to study politics and sociology at University Queen Mary – where part of the curriculum is a ‘school election’ at which she put herself forward to represent the Green Party. Considered shy until she was around 16, Allegra is now an outspoken activist for feminism and human rights and even made an impromptu open-mike speech at a climate change march…



We arranged to meet for Sunday lunch at The Stratford Hotel, one of her father’s ventures – a landmark property around which London’s new *cultural quarter will revolve, and from where Allegra hosts a weekly talk show, ‘A Drink With…’ for the hotel’s IGTV, interviewing notable people on their lifestyle and favourite cocktails – recent interviewees include Cary Elwes (with Allegra above, right), Milica Kastner, Cinta Miller, chef Patrick Powell from *‘Allegra’ Restaurant (see dishes from the menu below) and Tiger Lilly Taylor…




NS: “Allegra, what originally gave you the idea of launching your own talk show from *The Stratford?”

AH: “From when I was very young, I was always aware of what was going on in the world; I was always listening but I was shy, particularly at school where I didn’t enjoy the hierarchy. So, it took me a while to find my voice, and when eventually I did I then wanted to put it to good use – firstly by putting myself forward for the Green Party at a mock election at school, then later at an ‘open mike‘ event when I spontaneously took the microphone to broadcast about a subject I felt strongly about. I’m interested in psychology, I enjoy watching talk shows and I admire interviewers like Emily Maitlis who manage to get interesting responses to the questions. I wanted to do something similar, so I interview notable people at the bar of ‘Allegra’ restaurant at the hotel, and from other locations around the property. I like people, so it’s a dream job interviewing them; I think you can tell a lot about personalities from what they choose to drink – recently orders have been an Espresso Martini, a spicy Margarita, Guiness, and an Aperol Spritz – which was the summer 2020 drink of choice! I co-ordinate every aspect of the interview myself, from first approaching the personalities through to setting up the camera and then editing the video…”



NS: “When you’re not here at ‘The Stratford’, where do you like to go when you’re out on the town, what do you drink and where do you like to eat?”

AH: “I do like The Mezzanine lounge here at the hotel – the perfumed cocktails (above, with cucumber, grapefruit and vetiver) by Enrico Gonzato are unique… however, outside of the hotel I enjoy having a casual drink with friends at pubs local to home. For dining out, I like ‘Quo Vadis’, the new ‘Louie’ restaurant in Soho (below, left) which has a nice clubby vibe, and ‘Defune’ in Marylebone (below, right) is our family favourite for sushi; I also enjoy street food and Brick Lane in East London is great for samosas…”



NS: “You have quite an eclectic style of dressing…where do you find your clothes and what inspires you?”

AH: “I’m a fan of pre-loved fashion so I prefer sustainable clothes… for example, I like Armani vintage and anything with a unisex Parisian/Italian vibe. Travel inspires me and I always look around for good finds in designer shops when I’m in NYC, Venice or Milan; I prefer statement pieces and some are extremely wild – for example, I found a man’s tails jacket with glitter in Milan and wore it to Ascot…”



NS: “On closing, which is your own preferred cocktail and where would you most like to enjoy it?”

AH: “I suppose it’s a cliche, but I really do love my Dad’s place, ‘The Chiltern Firehouse’ (above) for a drink; my favourite is a vodka tonic with Absolut – a classic but a definite favourite!”


* ‘A Drink With Allegra’ is scheduled on The Stratford’s IGTV every Wednesday at 6pm

* ‘Allegra’ Restaurant: 020 3973 0545

* Ventures currently listed for the new East London Cultural Quarter include Madison Square Gardens, London College of Fashion, The Smithsonian, Sadlers Wells



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