Blend Kitchen, a non-profit social enterprise based in Sheffield, has grown from humble beginnings, running training courses, pop-up cafes and street food events in community centers and pub breweries, to operating a 60-seat restaurant and an event space,
The business has just celebrated its first year in its £350,000 purpose-built home on the city’s ‘food strip’, Ecclesall Road.
A spokesperson said: “Blend Kitchen provides life-changing training and employment opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized people facing barriers in the workplace. This includes those affected by mental health and neurodiverse conditions, physical disabilities, homelessness, substance abuse, out-of-school youth, parents returning to work after raising children, and asylum seekers.
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“Against the continued impact of the pandemic and with the ever-escalating cost of living crisis, like most hospitality businesses, Blend Kitchen should be nervous. Yet founder Chris Hanson saw a unique opportunity in due to the huge demand for private event spaces created by the pandemic.
He said: ‘The backlog of weddings and events, plus those already planned for this year, means there simply aren’t enough quality venues in the city or outside caterers. While the cost of living crisis means people are cutting back on dining out, pre-planned special events remain resilient.”
In addition to weddings and celebrations, the social enterprise is also launching a program of paid events starting this month.
Mr Hanson added: “As we become more popular as a daytime dining venue, extending our weekday hours means we can offer more training courses to those who need our service the most. support, as well as more free rental opportunities for local community groups.
“Blend Kitchen was designed to provide accessible spaces for our customers and the local community. These changes truly reflect our philosophy and allow us to respond to the changing economy and changing habits of our customers, while continuing to create unique training and employment opportunities at the heart of our mission.
“I am particularly delighted to extend our work with Sheffield College to provide hands-on work experience and training for catering students with special educational needs throughout this summer.”