Whisk! success story brings much needed new jobs to South Bristol
Bristol catering and café entrepreneurs Whisk! have added eight people to the payroll since they launched operations from their Knowle West Health Park hub at the end of 2011.
Top chefs Mike Merelie and Evan Roberts have already added a second cafe at nearby Arnos Vale Cemetery and are scouring Bristol for more outlets for their unique offering of ‘good food where you least expect it’.
The company has appointed eight people to a mix of full and part time posts including a new apprentice. Steven Newman (pictured at left) joins the Whisk! team from St Katherine’s school where he has been studying Catering and Hospitality in the newly built teaching kitchen.
Co-director Evan Roberts said: “We have always planned to take on an apprentice as we know just how important training and mentorship are to young people starting out in this industry. We are delighted that Whisk! is already in a position to take on a full time apprentice and we’d encourage other local business to do the same.”
Co-director Mike Merelie said they were determined to maintain the momentum by opening new outlets as well as re-doubling their corporate catering operation across the West – all based from the Knowle West hub.
He said: “We hit the ground running and haven’t slowed down yet. The last two years have been a complete blur and it’s only when we all got together for a staff party that I realise quite how far we’ve come.
“It’s amazing to think we started a couple of years ago cooking food in a cramped kitchen in Horfield and transporting it around Bristol ourselves.
“And we’re not just providing minimum wage apron and broom jobs – these are genuine opportunities for young people looking to make a career in food and catering.”
Whisk! have transformed performance figures for the café at the Knowle West Health Park, bringing much needed new jobs as well as quality food more familiar in the cafes, bars and delis of Clifton than in South Bristol.
They have also helped boost interest in Arnos Vale cemetery by creating a much richer visitor experience – providing a unique café bar for visitors.
“Our business model is working well but that doesn’t mean we have taken our eye from our core business – sending out high-quality, low-carbon lunches for business meetings and training courses across Bristol.”
Mike Merelie said clients welcomed the fact Whisk! sourced its ingredients from a network of local, independent businesses including Pullins Bakery in Yatton, Burtons Go Bananas in Avonmouth and the Essential Cooperative in Fishponds.
“It’s as low-carbon as we can possibly make it. It’s great for business people as they can enjoy the feelgood factor twice – once when they eat it and again when they know they have chosen a local company dedicated to reducing its environmental impact and benefitting the local community.”
Mike – a fully trained chef – has worked for several big companies and brings an acute awareness of the business to business market to the venture.
“With sustainability rapidly becoming business as usual we find we don’t need to be too evangelical about the environment but we need to make it a simple choice for our customers: they can be confident that our food is delicious and our ethos stands up to scrutiny.”
Mike Merelie concluded: “We don’t want to become massive corporate giants ourselves, we want to grow at a rate that allows us to practice what we preach. There is still plenty of potential for us across Bristol whether we are looking at a city farm, a museum, a works canteen or the high street.”