Plant Life Kitchen is this year’s winner of Dartmouth Food Festival’s Devon Start-Up Award. We find out about this flourishing vegan business
Fran Box and Rebecca Dale (RJ) run Plant Life Kitchen, a vegan street food and catering business based in Kingsbridge. The duo attends market stalls, selling mostly toasted sourdough sandwiches and loaded fries, and runs supper clubs. These are ticketed events where they serve a number of more delicate plates – such as smoky sweet potato and cashew balls with a garlic aioli, or nori and artichoke cakes served with asparagus. There is also a catering arm to the business.
Fran explains: “RJ grew up in Kingsbridge and we have friends here, many of whom are vegan, so we knew there was a big market for it. We started just over a year ago and ran a few pop-up events in London, where we tested our recipes. Since we moved to the South Hams last April, we’ve expanded into markets, festivals and some private catering.”
The growth of the vegan movement, coupled with their passion for tasty vegan food, fuelled the belief that Fran and RJ could start a business to showcase the diversity and flavours of vegan cooking. “We largely get ideas from eating out – with so many new vegan ventures starting up, particularly in London, there’s endless opportunity for inspiration. There’s also an element of trying to recreate our favourite foods from before we were vegan,” Fran says. “So far, it’s going well. Whenever we’ve been at an event, we’ve had really positive feedback about our food. We particularly enjoy praise from non-vegans. Of course, as with any start-up, we still have lessons to learn but are enjoying the process,” she adds.
“We’re really excited to grow Plant Life Kitchen. Alongside our market stalls and festival presence, we’re looking to run our first series of supper clubs in Devon. We plan to provide alternatives for single-use food packaging to our customers, much like coffee shops have been encouraging the use of reusable cups,” adds Fran.
RJ continues: “Fran has a background in environmental education in primary schools. We want to work with local primary schools to look at pupils’ understanding of where food comes from, its environmental impact and the entrepreneurial side of running a small business.”
If you’re looking to start up your own food business, the pair recommends talking to people who are already doing it. “They might not want to give you their recipes, but we’ve had a lot of advice from other market stall traders about which markets to attend, equipment to use and good websites to look at,” RJ concludes.