You might say that Callum Lea, apprentice chef at the Junk Food Café, is carrying on the family tradition. “I used to bake a lot with my nan as a child,” he said, “And my dad got a canteen job when I was in school. Seeing him do that, I thought I’d follow in his path.”
In his work at the café, former Birchwood Centre resident Callum helps to create a warm and welcoming space for the local community, makes healthy, nutritious food for them to enjoy, and reduces food waste by creating meals with surplus food donated by supermarkets. There’s also a Pay-As-You-Feel table with food items for people to take home with them for whatever they’re able to pay.
Now, with £250 funding from Hear Me Out!, he plans to invest in marketing to grow the catering business associated with the café to bring in extra income for this social enterprise and share his skills with a wider audience.
Callum is a talented chef, currently studying for an advanced diploma in catering, who started his career while living at The Birchwood Centre. He said, “I was there for around 15 months, and I was studying catering. I achieved level two and three in catering, and starting volunteering at the café. In November 2018, a job came up for an apprentice and I was interviewed and got the position.
“My job is to run the kitchen and café, including some recipe development. I also offer cooking tutorials for residents. I work together with them to teach them recipes, and they keep them so others can learn too if they want to.”
The funding will be spent on creating a new brand for the catering enterprise, developing menus across different price ranges, and creating marketing materials like posters, business cards and leaflets to promote the enterprise with local companies. It’s looking promising: they already have a large client they cater to several times a week.
In future, Callum plans to continue learning and progressing as a chef. He said, “The position I have ends in November, and there’s the possibility of reapplying as Head Chef. That would be my dream. I was here when it started and helped it grow. When you start a project and you’re proud, you don’t want to leave it.
“It’s a crazy thing with chefs. It can be stressful and fast-paced, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”