Interview by: Ruby Runnalls Palmer
This morning, just as my tummy started calling to me to track down some lunch, I went to the Hidden Kiosks to check out the new African and Caribbean Catering Kiosk. There I found Pauline and Cicely, busy frying up some fresh, delicious food for the good people of Colchester. In between shuffling meatballs around in a pan, the lovely ladies chatted to me about their business, their food and their hopes for life after the Kiosk…
Yesterday was your first day at the Kiosk, but what were you doing before this?
Cicely: In January of 2004 I stopped my full time job as a probation officer and started doing catering as a business, part-time. I do farmers markets, special events, buffets, private events, things like that.
Pauline: I deal with the African catering, I do it part time at home for friends and families, I get business through word of mouth. I’ve been doing it for two or three years now. I’ve done some markets, events, and we were at Colchester Free Festival last weekend.
Have you got a business background or what gave you the idea in the first place?
Pauline: I’m a housewife, I took time out to look after my children, but I found that I wasn’t busy all of the time, and I was getting bored. The catering started out at my church, they asked me to do cooking for them and really liked it. They said to me “This is really nice, you should do something with this!”. People started asking me to help them with food and I thought to myself, “Well if I can help out these people then maybe I can do big things”. People I know are always saying that there is nowhere in Colchester offering African and Caribbean food, so the market is right for it. There are loads of African and Caribbean people looking for food like this. We are on our way now, getting to use the Kiosk is a privilege and I am hoping that this is going to lead to getting a bigger place.
Cicely: I’ve always cooked but I took it a step forward when I finished working. I thought to myself, “I always like taking training courses anyway”, so I took a patisserie course, and now I am actually a qualified pastry chef. I still cook the way I’ve always cooked though, haha! It’s tried and tested, it was good enough before and it’s definitely good enough now.
What food are you selling here?
Cicely: We cater for vegetarians and for wheat or gluten-free diets. The savoury food we have is vegetable patties, beef patties, meatballs, beef burgers, rice, fishcakes. We have akara which is a caribbean/african wheat-free dairy-free product. We also have cakes - ginger cakes and rum cakes in different sizes, gluten and wheat-free carrot cakes, and puff puff. There’s also coffee and tea and cold drinks.
Where do you source your ingredients?
Cicely: We use local suppliers, fresh farm eggs, source meat locally, and I go to the market to buy the vegetables.
What’s for lunch today?
Cicely: Lunch will be jollof fried rice, with beef or chicken, and homemade beef burgers. That’s going to be standard, but Friday is going to be the day for specials. This Friday I’m going to do a curry mutton and rice and peas, because people have been asking for that.
When are you open?
Cicely: We are open Monday to Friday, 9am - 4pm. People can come by in the morning and buy something to have later for lunch, or buy cakes, then we will do the hot food at lunchtime, and in the afternoon the cakes are very popular. If people are lucky we might still be here just after 4pm!
If you fancy sampling some African and Caribbean cuisine for the first time, or if you are already a devoted fan of treats like these, then make your way to the pretty little blue kiosk opposite the bus station, next to firstsite. It’s even worth it just to chat to the smiley and lovely Cicely and Pauline!
If you want to contact them about catering in the future, Cicely has a website here, and their contact details can be found on this flyer: