Monday, 10 June 2013

End of a culinary chapter

My culinary vegetarian adventure has come to a gentle and expected end. I never thought it would last forever, in fact I was quite surprised to see it start at all. 
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.
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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.

35 comments:

  1. Wow...I'm sorry to hear of this, Shaheen. I hope your next culinary adventure works out and brings greater opportunities. Best to you and D.

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  2. Such sad news, but I'm sure just the start of a whole new chapter for you. If there's one thing you're good at Shaheen, it's bouncing back in a good direction.

    As you say this has been a huge learning and training curve for you and one that can only stand you in good stead in the future for whatever is next on the cards.

    I'm looking forward to reading many more Blog posts telling us lots more about your time at Hunky Dorys and I wish you lots of luck in the next adventure, because I'm sure there will be one :-)

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  3. Hello Shaheen: I wish you the best for the next adventure and I have to congratulate you for the Hunky Dorys experience. You are so brave! I think that when people go for their dreams generate an extra energy that they can use for the following step. Love. Verónica

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    1. Thank you so much Veronica. I came by your blog and learned of your good news - a new life in this world. x

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  4. I'm sad I never got the chance to visit your veggie cafe, it sounds like it was marvellous! Good luck in whatever you do in the future x

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  5. Oh Shaheen, I am sorry Hunky Dory's is closed, such a fabulous cafe, but I can quite understand why. And as you say what a great experience for you and for those lucky Newporters. You enjoy a well deserved break and I look foreward to hearing about your next foodie venture.

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    1. Thank you soooo much Choclette and please pass on my Thanks to your CT as well. He has been most kind too.

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  6. Onwards and Upwards Shaheen! Good Luck with your next adventure.

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    1. Thank you Mark. Onwards for sure, but after a little rest ay :)

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  7. Oh I am sorry to hear that, but it sounds as though another door will open for more adventures down the road. I wish I lived closer as I would definitely have come by to sample your wares.

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    1. Thank you so much for your warmth from afar and your lovely words.

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  8. Oh I hope it isn't too long before you can re-establish yourself in new premises. I used to cater a long time ago (pub - though I did a vegetarian range too) and I miss it dreadfully. My situation has changed a lot and I'd not be able to work for myself again now for financial reasons, sadly.

    Don't give up completely if you can possibly go on. You'll really miss it.

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    1. Thank you MorningAJ, may be a good year or two before i re-establish - but I will continue in the field no less, as you say I'll miss it otherwise.

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  9. You are so very talented! I'm sure it's just one of many creative chapters in your journey. :)
    Cheers!

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  10. Well done you! For jumping into uncharted territory, making a success of it and knowing when it's time to try the next thing. I can't wait to find out what you get up to next. x

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    1. Thank you Kath, it certainly was an eye opener and I made lots of mistakes in a really safe environment with people who helped me out of sticky situations.

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  11. It's really interesting how the venture came about, didn't realise this was maybe the oldest veggie cafe in Wales. Sounds like you did a fantastic job Shaheen and it's just the end of another chapter, many exciting ones ahead I'm sure. Enjoy the break for now and make the most of the summer.
    Sally xx

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    1. Thank you Sally. I'm hoping to get a pt job, in fact I do have one lined up but more about that later, now time for a little rest.

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  12. ah! i'm sorry i haven't been there to taste your food! does that mean that it's now closed for good? what are your new plans??xx

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    1. Thats ok Sian, you don't live in Newpor so it is a bit out of the way and to be honest there is not much bringing peopel into Newport, hence the reason its suffering terribly economically. Maybe things will get better in the future. As you may know, we had the Big Splash here a couple of weeks ago, my husband joked that it was barely a ripple, Newport has to find its way back on the map. I've left a message on your blog if you want to stay in touch re my future plans. Hope to meet up one day

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    2. yes! would love to meet up one day! just saw your comment on my blog, will email you and look out for you too!!
      newport is really suffering isn't it?

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    3. thanks for your comment on my blog, will email you and hope to hear more and i'm sure i'll bump in to you soon!!xx

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  13. I hope the little rest is pleasant. All that hard work I hope it springboards you forth higher to your next venture. I look forwards to hearing where you go next. The café sounded so wonderful, sorry to have missed it. You have so much support and admiration.

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    1. Thank you so much Jane. Your words are truly encouraging and make me feel very much blessed. I think my next work paid role will be low key, just to get some income - but the dream to open up my own proper veg eatery in the near future will have to wait a little while.

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  14. So sorry to hear that the café is closed, really enjoyed my visits your food is amazing. Remember one door closes and another opens, and just think you can have some time in the garden before your next adventure.

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    1. Thanks Kerry. You support was really appreciated. After a bit of break, I am hoping to do some food stalls and maybe some supper clubs, so not all bad. I have your card so will be in touch when we can maybe meet up for a drink and cake to eat and I can give them to you. Stay in touch ok :)

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  15. Shaheen,
    I have been following your venture via the blog with interest. I took over a tea room about the same time as you, and two weeks ago I decided, with heavy heart, to close and hand it on to someone with more time than I have. I appreciate how you must be feeling and I look forward to continuing to see your lovely recipes soon.

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  16. Thank you Becky Bee. Its so good to hear from you. Yes I do remember and I remember being excited for us both beginning our culinary adventures around the same time, albeit different places and isn;t it kinda funny that like me, yours ended 2 weeks ago too. Life is funny. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am truly sorry to learn that you had to hand it over, but I can empathise and understand why. for me, I just wasn't making an income - what was beign made was immediately going out on food costs, bills and salary and you know yourself - there is only so much a business can run on passion. I look forward to catching up on my blog reads and hope that you have time to enjoy life a little more and hope that your dream continuess- remember this was just one chapter, another begins.x

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  17. Hiya,
    So sorry to hear that you had to close down. It's really sad to see all the town centres suffering in this economic recession. I think the ideal would be to turn the town centres into havens for arts/leisure/food but as people don't have any dosh at the moment, I just cannot see it happening.
    I'm glad to see you are considering food stalls - hope that goes well for.
    I look forward to seeing more posts re your organic gardening adventures now you have some more time on your hands.
    Good luck - whatever you do I know it will be full of lovely colourful dishes. xx

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