• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


 MAGIC HAT CAFÉ, the North East’s first and only coffee shop and kitchen using surplus ingredients, has launched a fresh new menu and innovative new payment structure. 

The menu changes daily as ingredients, collected and donated from eateries and food stores across the Northeast, are harnessed to create vibrant and nutritious dishes by the Magic Hat chef and volunteer kitchen team. Each daily menu includes 6-8 dishes that are priced on a sliding scale according to how plentiful the ingredients are and the skill needed to produce the dish. Dishes start at £4 and include vegetarian, vegan, meat/fish and GF dishes.

Magic Hat first opened the doors of its permanent space in Higham Place, opposite the side entrance to the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, in 2021. Jess Miller, Bind co-founder said, “At Magic Hat, we collect and use surplus ingredients, that would otherwise have been wasted, to make meals and drinks for the community. 

“Since we have no control over our supply, inevitably there are only limited amounts of some options, whilst others are plentiful. Equally, some dishes involve high levels of skill and lots of time to perfect, whereas others stay very close to the ingredients’ pure form. That is how we determine a dish’s price. Whether you choose an abundant dish and pay the lowest price on the menu, or one that is more scarce and time-consuming at a higher price, you’ll be helping us to achieve our true purpose in equal measures. Our true purpose is to do as much as we possibly can to reduce the world’s food waste – to zero.

“For us, we want to create affordable, high-quality food as we simply believe to tackle food waste we need to be able to engage everyone, across sectors and across communities.”

Alongside the delicious menu, the coffee shop and licensed bar serve the Sunderland-based sustainable coffee brand RESINN, twobytwobeers, wines, and handmade cocktails, as well as a soft drinks menu made entirely in-house from surplus ingredients including fruity ice teas, ferments, fresh juices, and homemade cordials. No cans, bottles, or plastics. 

Alongside the kitchen, the team operates a weekly hamper delivery scheme, a pay-as-you-feel shop, an events program, and a free-to-hire meeting space for chosen groups each month. The space also acts as a redistribution hub where the team of 15 staff, and an army of 60 regular volunteers work hard to make sure that the 1.5-2 tonnes of food waste we collect from around the city each week is used effectively. 

Bind CIC, which Magic Hat Café is a project of, was founded by Duncan Fairbrother and Jess Miller. The organisation has operated with a large volunteer team, welcoming a wide range of people from across the North East looking for experience, community, and friendship. 

Speaking about the volunteer scheme, Jess continued, “We have shown by enabling volunteers to gain qualifications, experience, and increase their confidence, they find work, often in the environmental and hospitality sectors. We are proud of the friendships that develop throughout our team of volunteers, which reduces social isolation and encourages conversation, smiles, and connections. We currently have over 200 volunteers who work throughout our projects and represent the richness and diversity of our city.”

The Magic Hat is open from Thursday to Sunday between 10am and 4pm for brunch and lunch. Free wifi is available and to welcome new and returning students to the city, the café is offering 10% off its food offering to any current student until 31st October 2024. 

For more information on Magic Hat Café visit https://www.themagichatcafe.co.uk/ and www.projectbind.com to see the other food waste projects in the region.