Our Kin: Kait Oliver | Melbourne, Australia
Owner of a personalised food delivery business, The Green Chef, shares her story of starting a business during the beginning of a global pandemic.
Tell me a little about your career to date
I have been a chef for over 8 years now. My apprenticeship finished and as soon as I could I moved abroad for 2 years to work in the UK, I worked at huge festivals over there helping run catering kitchens feeding 300+ crew members for the last 4 years. For a time I was sous chef at a cafe in Footscray and that really helped me learn the behind the scenes of what to do and most importantly what not to do in hospitality business ownership.
How did The Green Chef start? What did starting out in business look like for you?
This business idea actually started in May 2019 when I was cooking for a family each week on the side of my full time job. I was going through my own health journey and realised that it's so hard to meal prep and be excited for the food if you have no idea how to do it! The initial design was to work with gyms and provide meal prep for gym goers, this soon changed once Covid hit and I switched my focus to the everyday person who wants to care a little more about their food as well as the planet!
In the beginning it was my poor partner and I in our rental kitchen at 2am on a Monday morning scrubbing floors and then starting deliveries at 6am. I sacrificed my sanity (and perhaps our relationship) to get it off the ground.
What impact does your business have on your customers?
TGC’s goal is to be a sustainable and personalised business. We want customers to tell us about themselves and how food can help them. We want to be something they are excited for and provide a little relief in their working week. Most importantly we want them to learn from us that convenience does not have to mean boring, unhealthy or unsustainable!
You launched your business right before a global pandemic. What has this time taught you about business?
Learn how to change, bend and do somersaults. Business owners who are so set on what they want to do will struggle, because everything can change overnight.
Be grateful for the opportunities and people that come your way even in the midst of craziness, grab them and run run run like the wildest woman you can possibly be.
Can you tell us your thoughts on cooking/eating well, and mindfulness/pressing ‘pause’ on the day?
It is so damn important! I am also a food tech teacher part time in a high school and my main focus with the students is the importance of food being brain power.
I have gone on my own health journey. I am able to function at a high level because I eat well, sleep well and stretch as much as possible. I also surround myself with beautiful humans. For me, it’s that simple.
All of these practises need to be taught from young ages, hence why I wanted to be a part of teaching the next generation through food and hopefully TGC will be a part of this in the future also.
Do you have a clear line between work and everything else in your life, or is it more intertwined?
It's becoming more clear, we are currently working from a rental kitchen so work leeches into home. My school job is now remote learning as well so home has become a very strange mish mash of a place. 2021 will see a very clear line being drawn between the two as that's always been a focus of mine.
I will not work for my business, my business will work for me.
How has running a business made you think differently about success v balance?
I have always struggled with balance, with a go hard or go home mentality.
I asked my best friend Jorgia Lewis to come along for the ride and be my business partner because she teaches me balance. She helps me slow down and appreciate things, to think things through clearly before taking action. She is my little angel and box of clarity. I am determined to learn from her and pace myself whilst we grow this little baby of ours.
What habits do you have to support your balanced approach to work and rest? What are some of your favourite ways to relax?
I actually cannot stand cooking at home! Owning a food business means I live off leftovers from the business. They are delicious but when you have spent so much time and effort to plan, order, cook, clean, deliver it. You just don't want to eat it.
So I spent time checking out new small businesses that I can order from, support and get really excited about!
I also exercise, when I haven't done anything with my body I am not fun to be around. Luckily my dog keeps me moving even when I am not wanting to do a proper workout.
What’s next for Kait and the Green Chef?
Well, with covid keeping us well on our toes! We have exciting plans to launch our new website in the coming weeks which will have our customers creating personalised accounts, menus and interacting with us directly. Our biggest goal is to get into a permanent private rental kitchen in early 2021.
I read too much, anything written by a chef as a story sucks me in.
Currently reading Hungry by Jeff Gordinier (Renee Redzepi road trip story)
I'm an Aussie hip hop girl, anything by Horrorshow or Thundamentals.
Old lady musky scents or lavender.
Favourite meal to cook?
Chicken rice with a fried egg and burnt broccoli.
Favourite morning ritual?
My partner has worked night shift for over a year (all to help us keep a stable home whilst building TGC) he is finally back to normal human hours, meaning my morning ritual is waking up to him, the cheeky cat and dog pestering us as its time to rise and shine! Simple to some, but so special to us!