Tuesday 10 September 2019

Welcome to Open House Deli

Six months in and finally some space to tell you the start of Open House Deli.

After settling into life at the deli I have had requests to share my story, and I have finally had some headspace to put it down – and to commit to having a blog, sharing our recipes, introducing the team, and clarifying our sustainable ethos and values.

At the beginning of 2017 I said goodbye to my job, flat and life in London, after spending 6 ½ years working at Unilever I knew I was ready for a change. I will never forget the first time I entered the head office, I was 22 and couldn’t believe this was my first job. In my interview I remember being asked ‘what’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken’. I always return to this thought - risk, what does it mean it to me?

Over the years I have intermittently returned to this thought and only now do I realise that I look at it not as ‘how much of a risk is this?’ but ‘what would the alternative be?’ I knew my future was not in a corporate job, so leaving and heading to travel Sri Lanka, India and Nepal was not something I saw as a risk, it was an adventure, a change, an excitement.

My trip culminated in an extremely spontaneous 10 day silent meditation retreat in the Himalayan Mountains - not somewhere I ever thought I would end up. My time was spent in reflection, concentration, boredom, sometimes extreme pain; but overwhelmingly enlightenment. What do you think you would dream up in that amount of time without being able to speak, write, read, listen or even look at anybody. I was able to think about my travels behind me, and what on earth was ahead of me. It was here, without any distractions, that by day three I had already formulated a rough business plan in my head, and by the time I got home I was focused with a vision, ready to come alive!

I have always been frustrated with the lack of choice when grabbing food on the go from the high street, always preferring a healthier option but so often the alternative can end up more appealing, cheaper, better value for money, but always in prepackaged material. I am also often that customer who so often wants to swap things in and out of what is on the menu, always tailoring to what I wanted. I knew there was a market in Winchester for fresh, scratch made, seasonal food that provided this ability and flexibility, together with options for every nutritional requirement, particularly when consumer demands are changing so quickly.

As a consumer I have supported local and sustainable options, and always tried to avoid packaging; my time away and experience in the countries I visited solidified my passion to ensure it was at the centre of the business. The poverty and lack of education I saw was extreme, with children throwing plastic wrappers on the floor because they have been told it’s ok, rubbish being burnt on the side of the street; and waste being thrown on the train tracks because on the 24 hour train journey there were no bins provided. The worst was when I saw a cow dying on the side of the road because it was choking from eating a plastic bag, unbelievable. I’ll talk more in future blogs about what we’re doing in the business, I’ve worked hard to put sustainable practices in place, work with particular suppliers and ensure sustainability runs throughs my decision making process.

Fast forward almost 2 years and I’m here, the doors being opened for 6 months. I spent a year setting up firstly on a market stall, invading my parents kitchen to cook at home and searching for the right premises. We are now an amazing team with ten of us all with our own individual and amazing skills! Making everything from scratch in our kitchen, open 7 days a week and a small satellite shop in the beautiful Alresford Linen, just outside Winchester in Alresford.

I look forward to welcoming you into the deli and keeping you up to date with our journey

Rebecca and Open House Deli Team

Celebrating Seasonal ingredients and low impact living.