Maria Moruzzi was uncharacteristically lost for words on Friday when Borough Market trustees, staff and traders descended on Maria's Market Cafe to celebrate her 50-year association with the market.
Borough Market chairman Donald Hyslop and managing director Keith Davis led the group of market staff and traders in the surprise presentation of a special gift and a cake replica of her cafe kiosk.
Maria said: "Borough Market is my home. It's where I grew up. It's my security. It's everything. You walk in here and you feel cocooned – you feel the warmth of the place. My heart will always be here."
Donald Hyslop, chair of the market trustees, said: "For 50 years Maria has been serving up her legendary bubble and squeak, mugs of tea and words of wisdom to generations of Borough's shoppers and traders.
"She has seen the market through its evolution from a few stalls to the thriving, world-class market that we are today.
"Throughout, Maria's cafe has remained at the heart of the market and as we celebrate her golden anniversary, we'd like to say 'Thank you, Maria and here's to the next 50 years'."