Our new posh digs on Magdalen Road feel really quite surreal. There has been nothing posh about our set up in the nearly seven years that Taste Tibet has been going. Most of this time we have been operating out of a tent, and we have spent summers peeing in portaloos and sleeping in the back of our van (and it’s not a campervan).
Those of you who came by our home years ago for takeaway will remember well what a small set up we were back then. A year or so into the business we built a temporary side extension (perspex roof, chipboard walls) to accommodate our growing kitchen needs. We were really proud of many of the features in this new space including a dedicated hand wash basin and spray tap for washing up. Sadly the Council did not share our excitement, citing the numbers of people we were feeding and the lack of commercial equipment they expected to see of the business we had inadvertently become. We rectified things quickly, which was just as well as our sitting room had by this stage also become something of a hazard. Piled high with cool boxes, mobile washstands and menu boards, it was more of a store cupboard than a living space. Week by week it became harder and harder for our small children to make out the TV. Eventually we couldn’t even close the door.
Even after we moved into our commercial kitchen in Cowley (a watershed moment that finally gave us back our five star hygiene rating) it took a while to build storage space into our unit, and we continued to use the makeshift extension in our home to store rice, flour, chickpeas etc. Our elderly neighbour would move bins out to save the space in front of our house, so that when we parked up we could unload as close to the front door as possible. But these 20kg+ sacks still needed to be carried through the house, and would pile up in the kids’ playroom along the way. I wish we had pictures now, but of course we didn’t see the humour in any of it back then. It was just stressful.
Now we are in the luxurious position of having two fully fitted out commercial kitchens – a prep kitchen in Cowley and the newly-built cafe kitchen at the back of 109 Magdalen Road. And masses of storage!
Our plan is to work both kitchens hard over the long term. When we can get our heads around things we want to develop the chilled foods we started delivering during the first lockdown and make these available for sale in the cafe and beyond. Everybody needs more momos in their freezers. We also plan to dust off our festival tents when situations allow, meaning the resumption of night and day momo making in the industrial kitchen. There is lots going on. Last week the Oxford Mail ran another piece on Taste Tibet which sums it all up very nicely. Click here if you missed it!
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