I will briefly share how it all happened as it was not planned at all.
Just over a year ago, I had gone in to volunteer at Newport's oldest vegetarian coffee shops, possibly Wales oldest vegetarian cafes (reputed to have been est. 1971). About three years ago the cafeteria had changed hands and come under new ownership: a charity called Kaleidoscope. However, when I turned up the charity had literally just closed this business. I was really disappointed and wrote a letter of interest to the CEO of my passion and interests in vegetarian cooking and what I could potentiallly offer. He seemed genuinely interested and set up a meeting and it snowballed from there, before I knew it I found myself re-opening, managing and cooking at Newport oldest and now newest vegetarian cafes: Hunky Dorys. I thank him and a number of other people for giving me the opportunity and allowing me practically develop my culinary cooking skills. It was a springboard, a perfect training ground where I learned so so much about running a business. I know I can cook, but to cook for people on a larger scale, on an order basis is now something I can do not only with pure passion but with competence. I've made lots of mistakes along the way and learned so, so much from my experience, I will share some of these with you in the near future, in different blog posts.
I've also gained genuine respect and warmth from customers and many of them were not even vegetarian who have humbled me, by not only enjoying the diversity and creativity of the food I plated up, but supported me in this endeavour and understand the reasons for my closing the doors of Hunky Dorys for once and for all, one of the main reasons was the location of the venue and secondly, the city of Newport is just in decline - Hunky Dorys's is not the first and nor will it be the last. Many of them wish to see and eat more of my food in the near future. So this is not the end, there will be another culinary chapter in my life, as I do plan to dip my little feet back into the food scene, but right now a little time to myself to gather my thoughts and become familiar with the kitchen in my rented abode. I would also Thank my husband whole-heartedly without whom this culinary chapter would not have began.
One of the best compliments, we have ever received 'since cooking at Hunky Dory's - Shaheen, the cook has made vegetarian and vegan food in Newport worth talking about, that now other mainstream cafes and eateries in the city centre and near the market are seriously targeting vegetarians and now even vegans, to the point that they have re-invented themseves as a place that caters to this once overlooked customer and cashing in. Their veggie offerings are no longer simple dishes, doorstop sandwiches, Welsh rarebit, Veg Lasagne, Jacket Potato, veggie breakfast (without the substitute vegetarian sausage) and the plastic burger.
A number of eateries are raising their standards (Thank goodness to Hunky Dory's for setting a standard in the first place (comment from customer) - now offering more interesting optionsvbarying from Italian, Indian to Mexican (enchilladas, quesadilla) and maker proper vegetable burgers, not the standard mushy bean burger. Now that is having an impact and a sign of success and legacy of a good cafeteria. One that challenges others to raise the standards. We know vegetarian offerings in Newport can only get better. Long may it continue.
Hunky Dory's Legacy
Now we are gone, we are happy in the knowledge that in the little time we were at Hunky Dory's (2012 - 2013), we have impacted positively on other mainstream cafeteria's nearby who now have begun to offer diverse vegetarian food - whereas before they offered vegetarians the same boring dishes, day in and day out; and vegans well, they were not even catered for - we know now they will be.
Vegetarians and Vegans in Newport will never have had it so good (Thanks to Hunky Dorys)
Finally, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog wrote a very kind and generous post about the vegetarian cafeteria. Please follow this link to read a little more.