Businesswoman and cafe owner Kat Hale, from Kat’s Kitchen, has branched out during the lockdown and now runs The Eco Pantry alongside her main business offering local people the chance to buy goods she regularly used in her cafe.
The Eco Pantry is a zero waste plastic option and encourages customers to bring their own containers to pick up their goods, or they are packed in brown paper bags.
The business offers a click and collect service or a home delivery service for people living in Keswick only — courtesy of her husband Nigel, who walks the parcels to their destination.
Kat’s Kitchen, in Main Street, just next to Greta Bridge, is also open every Saturday from 11am to 2pm to enable people to shop or collect items they have ordered.
Kat said: “During the first lockdown I became aware that people couldn’t get hold of some basic goods like flour or beans and realised this was the kind of things I bought in large quantities and I could help by providing them to customers and also keep my business ticking over.”
Now the list of ingredients available through The Eco Pantry has expanded and the number of dried products includes flour, yeast, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds, pasta, rice cereals and sugars.
Kat said they were all products she uses in her cafe which is known for its vegan food. She also offers 60 different herbs and spices — many of them unusual.
Kat said: “Our advantage is we can sell as much or as little as anybody wants. If somebody is trying out a recipe which takes, say, an unusual ingredient, I can sell a teaspoon full of the herbs or spice you need in case
“The Eco Pantry has been operating for a while — but its expansion has come out of a needs must basis. I think during the difficulties people have had more time and inclination to be more adventurous in their cooking or baking and if I can help out than that is good.”
Her green credentials have always been really important to Kat and she is awaiting the delivery of an electric cargo bike which will make deliveries much easier.
Kat is Australian by birth, but has now lived in Keswick for almost 20 years.
She has worked on and off in the hospitality industry since she was a teenager in her home country. However when moving to Keswick she initially worked as a project manager for an IT company in London — splitting her time between working from home in and travelling down to London.
It was in 2016, just after Storm Desmond, that she had the opportunity to set up Kat’s Kitchen and has never really looked back.
Now her husband, Nigel, has joined her full time in the business and the couple have just managed to take on an allotment in the town, after seven years on the waiting list, and cannot wait to get it up and running properly.
Kat said: “This is the allotment’s first year, but we have had so much help from Gracie Watson who offered advice on just what and how to plant. Now we can have seasonal vegetables for the cafe all year round.
“It is all about lowering our carbon foot print wherever possible. The allotment will allow us the chance to provide locally grown seasonal vegetable for our menu.Over the last four years I have so enjoyed having my own business and feel I am so lucky to be able to carry on. My customers are wonderful and I adore baking and cooking and love feeding people — I am like the world’s mummy.”
Over the last year Kat has expanded her on-line presence, regularly posting on social media.
She added: “I am always keen to encourage home cooking and have always put up recipes on my website.”