Helping us to eat more veg: Artizan Kitchen
There is growing awareness of the importance of reducing meat consumption – not simply for health and animal welfare, but also for the environment – to reduce pollution, land and water use and global greenhouse gas emissions. The movement is getting traction; Greenpeace International has recently announced their Less meat more veg campaign, and 1MillionWomen, an Australian based environmental NGO is encouraging Less meat, more beans , asking people to pledge 21 days of no meat and no dairy in September as part of their 1 million actions for the planet campaign.
So you’re onboard. You want to eat more veg more often. But when you hit the local pub/café/restaurant, you find out there is only one plant-based dish, and you hate the main ingredient. Urrghh, welcome to a vegetarian’s nightmare……
People want to eat more veg; most meat eaters I know don’t want to eat meat all the time - flexitarianism* is on the rise. A growing awareness of gut and other health issues is also turning people away from heavy meat and dairy consumption.
That is why I was so excited to meet Stephanie Raybould, who runs a plant-based food stall (Artizan Kitchen) at the monthly Woodend Farmer’s Market. Not only is she cooking vegetables, her dishes are entirely plant-based. That means no animal products at all including dairy, eggs or other animal by-products. People can be found lining up around the corner of the stall for her delicious cauliflower tacos, white wine and parmesan arancini, cheesy herbed potato croquettes and muffins. Stephanie kindly agreed to share a little bit about her story.
How did Artizan Kitchen get involved in the Woodend Farmer’s Market?
My family used to own a restaurant we called Artizan Kitchen in Metung, where we served Mediterranean cuisine, not vegan but half our menu was vegetarian with vegan options. My hubby worked front of house, my daughter occasionally helped on the register, and myself and Alex worked in the kitchen, where I was head chef and Alex was our pizza chef.
The name was made up as follows- the name represents handmade - usually spelt with an S but we changed it to suit us, ART for being artistic as we are in different ways and Z.A.N. for our kid’s names...Zoe, Alex, and Nick.
We closed our restaurant to move back to the area as we missed our families and friends but I knew I wanted to cook for a living and wanted to start a catering and food van business from home, so I kept the business name because I liked it so much.
We have recently started doing markets. You can find us at the Woodend Farmers’ Market, Riddells Creek Farmers’ Market, and Bendigo Farmers’ Market on a monthly basis. We are trialling Maldon Farmers’ Market and Bendigo Showgrounds’ Market too. My business also offers event catering for small to large events, home delivered meals, cooking classes and a personal chef service. Anything to do with cooking and food I love.
Tell us about your team
At the moment, my husband is working on our caravan to make into a food van, and so until it is ready we work from a food stall. My son Alex has been attending the market with me, helping me set up, cook on site and pack up. Alex was involved in a serious car accident last year, where he suffered a severe head injury (TBI) amongst other injuries all over his body. He isn’t yet able to return to work and so he volunteers his time to help me and this helps him get out and do something different. We make a great team, we are getting better at setting up and packing up each time we do a market. Sometimes Zoe will come and help too.
Why did you start a plant-based business?
My mother was an amazing cook and my dad wasn’t too bad either, so I suppose I got my love for cooking and food from them, only difference is that it’s much more ethical now. I love food and I love cooking, so it’s a perfect match.
I have always had a love for animals and became vegetarian many years ago and recently became vegan/plant-based. My family is not vegan or vegetarian but they support me, not that they have much choice really as I am the main cook in our house and when I cook now it’s always vegan.
I started my business as plant-based business because I don’t want to support the dairy or meat industry anymore. It is extremely cruel and no animal should endure that suffering, ever. I used to think that I had to cook meat for others to keep everyone happy but it made me feel very sad and frustrated, so for a change I thought about myself and the animals first.
Plant-based food is suitable for everyone to eat. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to eat it. Even the omnivores love my food. I have found that the more I cook plant-based the more I learn and the more I ask myself why I didn’t do it sooner.
Who are your customers?
My food appeals to all walks of life. It is handmade, fresh, and made from quality ingredients. I don’t serve mock meats as I am not a big fan, I prefer using vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts as my base.
At the markets, I have found that there are various and different customers who buy my food; vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters. I do find that certain vegans have been following me on my Facebook page and know where I am going to be so they make the effort to come to that particular market, which is really nice and encouraging, I truly appreciate it.
My husband is typically English when it comes to eating and very picky with his food, yet he loves my Plant-based meals. My son Alex is a big meat fan and he loves my food, his thoughts are ‘if it tastes good, I’ll eat it’. My friends and family have all been very encouraging (none of whom are vegetarian or vegan). I tried out my food on them first to ensure it’s going to be favourable because it was important for me that everyone loves the food. I have to say, they loved being my taste testers.
Are you involved with other local suppliers in the area?
At the moment I am working on getting other small local businesses on board as suppliers. I believe we should support local businesses as I know how hard small business owners have to work and how passionate they are about their product. Their product will make my food that little bit more special and meaningful.
What do you like about working at the market?
Meeting people and getting encouraging words is the best part of going to the market. You meet such a diverse range of people. Also, I love talking to the other stall holders and finding new products that I might use in my business or at home for my family.
I for one believe that everyone should have choices when going out.
I get a buzz when people love my food and tell me to my face or go on social media and tell others how good it was. It’s a great feeling, and very encouraging.
Going to the market is hard work, by being part of the market makes you realise how hard people work to get the customers to buy their products. For anyone that doesn’t know it, a lot of work goes into market stalls, I for one spend hours prepping prior to market, then the packing of the car/trailer, waking up at 5am weekends, setting up at the market (which takes us about an hour) and standing in the cold for hours we started mid winter, packing up and driving home to unpack, wash up and repack. I take my hat off to those who have been doing it for so long.
Thanks Stephanie for sharing your story with us. We wish you the best success and thank you for expanding our food choices, and demonstrating just how delicious plant-based food can be.
If you’d like to get in touch with Artizan Kitchen, Stephanie can be contacted via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on facebook.
*Flexitarians are people who deliberately limit their meat consumption, eating mostly vegetarian dishes, with the occasional meat dish.