Kindred Kitchen was started by four friends who wanted to bring good, wholesome food to the city of PE – with good ethics at the core of all they do, the team offers hands-on job training to low-income individuals who need a fresh start and want to be upskilled. From their delicious, locally-sourced ingredients, to their welcoming space, and a service philosophy grounded in dignity and respect – Kindred Kitchen is a sustainable space where the community can feel nourished and cared for.
We caught up with Amy van der Merve, executive chef and co-owner of Kindred Kitchen.
Tell us a bit more about yourself?
We are four friends (Simone Jacobs, Kyle Jacobs, Duart Maclean and Amy van der Merwe) who wanted to serve healthy food and superfood loaded smoothies in our little city, so we started a plant-based restaurant and smoothie bar in Port Elizabeth – at the time there was nothing like this here. Five years ago I started a market stall at Oranjezicht Market in Cape Town. I then moved back to PE and started doing the markets and delivering meals made from my home. The four of us then decided to join together and open the restaurant. It has been an amazing journey.
What does a day in your life look like?
It looks a little different for each of us. But since I am writing this, I will tell you about my day :). I get up at 4:30am to study (I am studying to be a holistic health and nutrition coach). I then go to the restaurant and get ready for the day. Duart (my partner) runs the nitty gritty of the restaurant with Simone, who looks after front of house and social media. When ordering stock, we try use as local as possible, so we have a number of different small suppliers. I then get everything ready for our recently started retail venture with Spar. We make ready-made meals for them and deliver each day. I check on the stock rotation there and then come back and make sure the restaurant kitchen is running smoothly, staff are looked after and the quality of our food and plates is maintained. My evenings are usually spent with my family or on a few other interests I have.
What does “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability is a word we keep learning from in this business. We have tried as far as possible to use biodegradable packaging and glass bottles for our juices and smoothies. We also compost our biodegradable waste and recycle everything that can we. We actually give our tins to a man gets some money for recycling them, which is cool.
We also believe being plant-based is a sustainable way of living and will impact less on the environment. We treat our staff with respect and kindness and not demand things from them that we are not willing to do ourselves. In this way we try to maintain a sustainable and happy working environment.
What made you decide to start a sustainable brand?
We just feel really passionate about holistic plant-based living and wanted to offer it to people in a happy and friendly space.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced when starting your brand?
I would say the biggest challenge has been to get people to enjoy a breakfast without eggs, haha.
How can people support your brand during the current pandemic we are facing?
Right now, popping by for a meal or a takeaway would be incredible. We miss all the lovely people in the restaurant.
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
I think the most challenging thing is balancing the price of sustainable, organic and high-quality produce and goods and keeping our prices affordable.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Try to eat more plants. Start looking around you and appreciating this beautiful planet we live on. Start slowly when you switch out your lifestyle – and be kind to yourself.
What are your fave sustainable local brands?
What is your advice for someone wanting to start a sustainable brand? (This doesn't have to be applicable to the current climate)
Go for it!! You will be proud of what you have built and that you have stuck to your beliefs. Try to reach like-minded people and build relationships with them.
What's one thing people don't know about you?
Hmmm, Simone and I have both had our babies at home like real hippies :)