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Moose’s Kitchen – St. Leonards-on-Sea

11 August 2013 No Comment

There’s nothing quite like chancing upon a little-known gem of a café on a day trip – especially when out-of-town bargain hunting leaves you in desperate need of cake. We were so taken with Mid-Century inspired vegan hotspot Moose’s Kitchen on a recent visit to St. Leonards-on-Sea that we had to track down manager Maresa Bossano, aka Moose, for a chat.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Tell us a little about yourself…

I have been vegan for over 20 years and have worked in vegetarian restaurants since I was 16. Since leaving college, where I studied environmental science, I’ve work for different vegan and animal charities and public sector organisations. I am also a Green Party candidate for Central St. Leonards.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Who is involved in the café?

The café is overseen by a committee, as part of a community enterprise called Local Organic Vegan Ethical Food Ltd (LOVE Food). I manage the cafe, do a lot of the cooking and was responsible for setting it up. We currently have four part-time staff.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

When and why did you decide to open up a cafe and what makes it special?

I have always wanted to open a vegan cafe and decided to take the plunge after I was successful in getting Lottery funding just over a year ago. The main aim of the Local Food Fund is to make local food more accessible and affordable to local communities.

We don’t believe you should sell good food too cheaply as it has reflect the true cost of production, and we wanted to have staff paid a fair wage rather than rely on volunteers, but we have kept our prices the same as other similar cafes even though nearly all our ingredients are organic and all our food is made from scratch.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Why did you choose to open a café in St. Leonards?

The property in St. Leonards is cheaper than in Hastings and ours is a great location –right by the train station and lots of good shops and art galleries including our friends at The Kave Gallery, Claremont Studios and 20 Kings Road. As well as interesting quirky second-hand and charity shops, St Leonards also has lots other nice cafes and pubs and music venues, gardens and the beach to attract visitors.

How long did it take you to make the space your own?

We actually managed to paint, decorate and kit out the cafe in just over a month, but the whole project  – including the installation of an extension and window – took over a year. Most of my work was done by friends who also happen to work as carpenters, decorators and the painting was done by Inner Space.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

How would you describe the style of the cafe?

I wanted to go for earthy and natural but with splashes of colour, I was eating jerusalem artichoke and mushroom soup one day and decided I wanted the walls the same colour! The style is very reflective of my personal tastes, indeed many of the pieces came from my house, which is a mixture of second-hand, hand-made, Fairtrade items and things I’ve picked up on my travels.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Where did you source your furniture, ceramic items, light fittings, framed prints and tablecloths?

Most of the furniture was donated by friends or from Freecycle. The chairs I covered myself with the same fabric as that of our Ochre & Ocre organic tablecloths and the shelving and counter are made from old scaffold boards. The lights shades are from Enamel Shades and the recycled glass cake stands are from LSA International. A few of the extra items were bought from second hand furniture shops on Kings Road.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Who designed your logo and the prints displayed on the walls?

My friend Jen Pringle of Pen & Pringle designed the logo, which was inspired by an old 1970s apron I have, and the prints are from Aardvaark, who are also local.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

What is your personal favourite starter, main and desert/cake?

We cook different food every day so it all depends on what is in season and what we can get from our local organic suppliers.

There are too many soups to choose from but beetroot soup is currently in season and is a great colour. I also recently made veggie burgers from chickpea stew, couscous, breadcrumbs, oats, spices and tahini – they were a great way of reducing food wastage. And our sugar-free courgette cake, made with courgettes from a team member’s allotment, is very popular at the moment.

Moose's Kitchen, Love Food Cafe - St Leonards-on-Sea

Find Moose’s Kitchen at 52 Kings Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, online at www.mooseskitchen.moonfruit.com or connect on Facebook

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