Wholefoods Kitchen

I’m sitting at the corner table in a pool of sunlight, sipping on a green smoothie, watching the comings and goings of Bendigo through a giant window. I wonder how many passers by have discovered the “crunchy punchy stuff” or the “dips, dollops and drizzles” to be found in here. Some of them burst through the doors, meeting friends, settling into their favourite perches with the same relaxed vibe you would in an extension of your own home. Others might be crossing the doorstep for the first time, yet to discover Zughetti noodles or kale chips. Whether they’ve drifted through from the store next door to thumb through the cookbooks and listen to the banter of one of Bendigo’s beloved baristas;  or have grabbed a “peckish pot” and a cold pressed juice on the run…this little patch of goodness looks after all of them. Daz takes a seat at my table and I’m about to hear the story* of how Wholefoods Kitchen came to be...

*this is an add-on to the article in the current issue of the Bendigo Magazine...the extra bits, in Daz's words, that wouldn't fit the official word count :)

Wholefoods Kitchen is...

A space next door to Bendigo Wholefoods, the original store that gave customers a place to source ingredients and products that matched this whole approach to health (e.g. coeliac) and lifestyle (e.g. paleo). The kitchen continues the focus on foods as close to their source as possible, with minimal processing or intervention, and no (or low) additives and preservatives. But where the store provides the products themselves, the kitchen provides a menu and space for eating in or taking away...as well as inspiration for what is possible when combining and experimenting with wholefood produce and recipes. Daz and Nicole have had the store for nine of its 29 years, and their expansion into the Wholefoods Kitchen more than cements their enthusiasm and commitment to this approach to food and lifestyle.

 Source:  Facebook Page  for Wholefoods Kitchen

Source: Facebook Page for Wholefoods Kitchen

On Daz's passion...

Big picture and a business focus are always going to be important, but Daz loves to focus in on the details, the balance of flavours, the freshness, what he's tasting right this very moment. So before Wholefoods Kitchen became what we know it as now, Daz took his detail oriented perspective to Melbourne. Here, he donned his sneakers and walked the streets of Melbourne, dropping into to 80+ cafes to introduce himself and his ethos, observing and having conversations with like-minded people who already knew what it would take for this venture to succeed.

On one of the great joys of the kitchen...

Witnessing the collaboration and conversation between two staff members, one vegan and one more traditionally meat focused, the bond and relationship between them is amazing...how they connect and share ideas around food, it's one of the great joys of the kitchen

The responsibility of being part of the community...

There was an interesting moment when we realised that the food community has a responsibility for education too...not just on what we have available but how convenience and good food can co-exist,  the links between how you eat and your mental health, the benefits of getting greens back into the mix...there's a lot to explore in that space too.

On the workload...

Sometimes worry can creep in, about the workload that comes with expansion and trying new things. But at the same time, it's also exciting. Nicole and the kids are excited about what's coming next, what's our next stage, and how they can help. The kids can see that busy lives can also contribute joy...joy in creating jobs in a regional area...joy in finding meaning in what you do. The kids get to grow up in an environment where they can see this happen.

On the customers...

Their customers are as loyal and passionate as Nicole and Daz, the store so well known people travel from as far as Mildura to participate in vegan shopping nights complete with tastings and recipes. Finding meaningful purpose in your work doesn't happen without the customers. I make a conscious effort to remind myself that everyday, they give me the confidence to get up and take the next step...to keep going and keep growing. That's very rewarding and a very good reason to come to work. We have great customers who give us real feedback. They want us to do well, we're both committed to the same cause. 

So whether you're after a seasonally influenced Wholebowl full of salads, grains, protein and crunch...or a delicious salad on the go...some sweet treats, some good coffee (roasted just down the road!) or so many other nutritious goodies in between...pop in and say hello to Daz and his extraordinary team. You'll find them at 314 Lyttleton Tce, Bendigo. Or on Facebook and Instagram.

P.S. Breakfast coming soon! Read more in the current issue of the Bendigo Magazine xx