Phoenix food has been a battle. When starting we only served coffee, we didn’t have enough money for all the equipment to make food. After a few months we approached Skipchen, Bristol to create a PAYF menu as we loved the ethos and movement behind it: intercepting food waste and creating meals on a Pay As You Feel basis. Skipchen would collect food waste and deliver it to the cafe, where we would cook or serve it and split the donations 50/50. This worked well for the first couple of months as people were just as excited as we were. Sadly due to us not having a large kitchen we weren’t able to cook much(a microwave, soup kettle and George Foreman will only get you so far), people also got used to the PAYF and stopped donating. As well as saving food waste, my view was that it helped people who couldn’t afford expensive lunches in and around the centre of town. In the end the people that wouldn’t donate were the people that could afford to. Customers who had little money put in what they could and felt bad that it wasn’t enough. The food we needed to suit our kitchen and have a constant supply, wasn’t always necessarily available(this is the nature of intercepting food waste, as it changes daily). So I had to save Phoenix and change it.
I am no chef. I am a baker. I love making cakes(and eating them sadly), but I struggle with coming up with interesting recipes and Phoenix could not afford to pay a chef to work with waste food. After sales dropping dramatically and causing stress on the team we decided to stop doing food waste and start doing a basic menu until we had found someone to come and help us. I’m a perfectionist and when I feel I can’t do it well, I won’t do it. Can’t cook, won’t cook. Wrong attitude. Needing something different, but also wanted healthier food in the Cafe(so I don’t eat donuts all day) We looked into Vegan and Gluten Free options…. The Pattie! Working with Jen we found some basic vegan and gluten free burger recipes, which we adapted; Size, ingredients and serving style. We spent a day of experimenting and asking for the residents of Pithay Studios’ opinions and created 3 patties: beetroot and lentil, sweet potato and spinach, white bean and quinoa.
Its only the beginning stages, but we had a trial run with some of the residents in the building today and had a great reaction. I didn’t think I could cook, but then again I didn’t think I would run my own Cafe. I’m learning as I go, but doing it with new people every day, which makes my job amazing. Some might think I am crazy that after 10 months of running the business I am finally writing a business plan for it, but I like the facts its adaptable.
Our new menu launches on Monday and we will be trying to include waste food as much as possible. Hopefully we will be a completely self sustainable cafe using veg grown in house as well as using food waste.