Flavours of change the stoke newington bakery supporting disadvantaged women london evening standard apple tablets at walmart

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“that’s what it is. It’s not some in-between meal thing. It’s something that you can get up and have at any time of day, and then you’re ready to go,” she laughs, explaining that in an ideal world this day-long feast would include the following: “a cumberland sausage done well, then bacon – either smoked or turkey bacon – and maybe a hard dough bread. And then I’d do beans my way, a bit st lucian, and with butter, black pepper and other things. The rest is a trade secret!”

Hollywood is a cook and a businesswoman, although she hasn’t always labelled herself this way. Three years ago her life looked very different, as she had ended up homeless having been forced to escape a number of violent situations that she says “were bringing me down as a woman – or as a human being.Baking skills

it was a whirlwind of shit, basically,” she remembers.

Shortly after finding a homeless shelter for women, hollywood was connected with – and later signed up to – a social enterprise in stoke newington called luminary bakery. As part of the training programme she learnt to bake (“the cream cheese cinnamon swirl pastries and the blondies with apple and rosemary and brown butter are amazing”) and a year later went back to share her story with its latest graduates. Today she is in charge of chantel’s, a new tea hut that’s open from thursday to sunday (11am-4pm) in spitalfields city farm, where she’ll be until december 2018. She’s also is in search of an intern with an interest in developing baking skills.

While hollywood has plans to expand the menu to include produce from the farm as well as ideas that “reflect my caribbean – or specifically my st lucian – heritage,” she currently serves a short menu of hot drinks and cheese or tomato toasties, which she makes “with sprinkles of spring onions from the farm gardens.Luminary bakery people LOVE that I just pop round the corner to get those.” next month during the farm’s annual goat race, 1000 people will descend on the farm and she’s ready for it: “I’ll be serving sandwiches – it’ll be a flashmob so I will need to be as efficient as possible,” she laughs.

The experience of finding the luminary bakery, or what she affectionately refers to as “meeting the ladies,” has been what hollywood describes as “everything, because the circumstances that I met luminary in [hollywood had reported two incidents of attacks to the police, and in 2013 was diagnosed with depression] were hopeless. I know I’m not hopeless but at the time I felt like I was. Then I started seeking help to get away from situations that were causing me harm. I had to relinquish myself and be ready to take on new skills. That part of me that didn’t want to meet people had to go out and meet people. Eventually my mood started to improve.”

luminary bakery

Luminary came about in 2013 when its founder, londoner alice williams, had recently returned from thailand where she had been working for an organisation that provided spaces for women who had left the sex industry. Seeing similar issues near where she was working in kahaila cafe, brick lane, williams and some baking-obsessed colleagues decided to visit a nearby hostel for women who were homeless, to see if they might be receptive to learning how to bake.

Scoot forward a few years via a £16,000 crowdfunding campaign in 2016, and we come to luminary’s new premises in stoke newington, which comprises a bakery on the top floor, and a training room downstairs. It is here that women in cohorts of seven enrol to a six-month training programme, incorporating baking skills as well as skills that williams believe “help develop character and confidence. A lot of the women have been through trauma and gender-specific violence, so domestic abuse or sexual exploitation.City farm I think we forget the impact that might have on their ability to thrive – overcoming that takes a really long time. So it’s about approaching topics in a healthy way – that might be talking about relating to others, building trust, following instructions, and resolving conflict, especially in the workplace. We also find that these women have lots of skills but convincing potential employers can be tricky for them so we work on how to sell yourself well in an interview and so on.”

Williams stresses that the programme – since its inception it has trained 45 women, 88 per cent of whom have gone straight into work or further training – is significant as it allows the women escaping these situations, many of whom are mothers, to gain financial independence – “and if quality of their life changes there’s a higher chance it can for their kids too.”

After graduation, bakers are encouraged to stay in regular contact with luminary.City farm some go on to work for small businesses whilst others prefer the structure of bigger organisations. There have also been opportunities with the hilton hotel.

Hollywood, meanwhile, was itching to start her own business. “after I’d left luminary, I had a progression coach called sarah who helped me get my stuff together for the business – that was how I got the changing lives grant of £2500.”

“well, I feel unashamed about my past, and that’s what meeting the luminary ladies has done for me. As well as being able to use baking as an enterprise, which is the most fantastic thing, even though I don’t do much baking at the moment I’m just waiting and manifesting a dream kitchen where I can bake. It’ll be called chantel’s.”

For more information on luminary bakery visit luminarybakery.Com; chantels tea hut is at spitalfields city farm, buxton street, london E1 5AR – follow @ceo_hollywood or @chantelsteahut more about: | baking | bakery | food