As you are aware, I am often thinking about my dream café – what it will look like, how big it will be, where it will be located, but the one thing that keeps creeping back into my considerations, is where will the amazingly, delicious food I will be serving, be sourced from. Here is my ideal situation: every Saturday, Sunday or whatever day it may be, I venture to my local farmers market and gather the freshest, crispiest, organic vegetables and meat, to put on my customers’ tables.
I have always planned to do this, but my hopes were cemented after visiting the Borough Market in London Bridge on the weekend. A huge market packed with vegetable, cheese and meat stalls offering top-of-the-line, fresh produce. Not only did we have lunch there, but ‘hunter, gathered’ two nights worth of dinners also.
The hustle and bustle of a good market is the ultimate attraction for me – prime people-watching territory. I love seeing the ‘only organic’ artsy fartsies, the upper-class, the local pub owner, or the young families, all there for either their weekly shopping, or just for a good ol’ mooch. Then there are the smells. The delicious aromas of the taste testers, £5 salted pork rolls, chorizo sandwiches and bubbling paella. Here’s something for nothing: do not to a market on an empty stomach, or else you will leave with an empty wallet.
Which brings me to my hesitations about sourcing my future café’s food from a local market.
First is the comparison between London markets and NZ markets. No, I cannot claim I have been to every NZ market, however I have been to a few, and I’m sad to say, they don’t quite compare. Here, the markets are HUGE, and you can guarantee you will find what you are looking for – from oak smoked organic bacon, to 3 month matured cheddar, to whole flounder. All fresh, all delicious, and always available week in week out. I have been to so called ‘farmers’ markets in NZ and have often been let down by the lack of produce on display. After working in several cafés, I know time is precious and I don’t want to have to make double trips between markets and supermarkets, so do I go with quantity over quality? I’d really rather not!
Secondly, the cost. My boyfriend and I have always prided ourselves on eating well. Spending more money on quality food for delicious meals, rather than scraping by on microwave meals and spending the remaining loose change on booze – something common amongst others our age (old before our time much?!). So it goes without saying, I don’t mind paying that little bit extra for quality produce. But on a small-business scale, is this economically sound? A café I worked at in Queenstown had the most delicious weekly deliveries of fresh fruit and crispy vegetables (it was my favourite part of the day – besides lunch!). I would hope to be able to go down the same avenue – ordering from a local fresh food supplier – but as a café starting out, this might not be viable!
Obviously these are all ‘bridges to cross,’ but it is a consideration that plays heavily on my mind. Dreams don’t always go to plan, but as a self-confessed ‘home-food foodie,’ I am determined to serve my customers not only ethically sound food, but fresh and delicious meals at that! Unfortunately this leaves me with minimal solutions, and challenges that could put such aspirations in jeopardy.
Oh, first world dilemmas ae?