North East Connected


The latest food trend, Kimchi, is spreading to the North East with the success of two entrepreneurs who have opened the first totally authentic Korean café, Kimchi Planet, in Newcastle.

Kimchi has become the ‘next big thing’ in clean eating with many restaurants in London including the pickled cabbage in dishes. With the health craze continuing to build, it is not surprising that kimchi is rising to the spotlight—it is very nutritious and is particularly high in vitamin c, vitamin k and anti-carcinogenic properties—it is part of the Korean diets and eaten with every meal. Following this trend, Kimchi Planet is the first authentic kimchi inspired restaurant to open in the North East.

Helen Ree and Josh Hornby have built a loyal following and made a name for Kimchi Planet selling Korean street food at the local markets over the past two years. There is a strong youth movement in Newcastle of setting up food and beverage related businesses and trading at the growing number of markets in the NorthEast.

As regular market customers grew they decided to expand their business after spotting a considerable gap in the Newcastle restaurant scene for Korean food. Securing premises just outside the City Centre in Shieldfield, diners can now experience genuine Korean street food at Kimchi Planet, cooked by Helen who was born and bred in Seoul, Korea.

The restaurant is sandwiched between two blocks of student accommodation and residential homes in Wretham Place which is part of a major Newcastle City Council regeneration plan.

Speaking about the launch of the café, Helen said: “We are so excited to be expanding our business. We love trading at the markets and are delighted that our hard work has presented us with the opportunity to fulfil our dreams of opening the café whilst also attending as many of the local markets as possible.

“On the wall I have painted a picture of the traditional Korean tiger that symbolises courage and power. He is painted with a merciful grin which reflects the cheerful and optimistic spirit of not only our hopes for the café but also of the Korean people. I love my native country and I think it is so important to ensure the authenticity of Kimchi Planet and to share the culture of Korean food.”

Kimchi Planet is gearing up to welcoming new and existing customers as well as students when they return to university. The café is currently open all week apart from Tuesday with a test menu including all things ‘kimchi’ and their already highly regarded reputation has been recognised on trip advisor with a raft of excellent reviews. Kimchi is proving so popular that the duo now make their own kimchi which is sold in jars at the markets and in the restaurants.

As graduates of Northumbria University, Helen and Josh have been able to take full advantage of the excellent support offered through its unique Student and Graduate Enterprise Service. This provides free enterprise skills training and start-up support for the university’s students and graduates. Experienced mentors have provided legal, financial, marketing and public relations support which Helen and Josh were able to take advantage of.

Graham Baty, enterprise manager at Northumbria University, spoke about the success of Kimchi Planet;

“Helen and Josh have already built a brand and reputation for authentic Korean street food in Newcastle—and the food is absolutely delicious! It is great to see their business grow and I am delighted they have utilised the support and guidance available to them as graduates of Northumbria University.”

Since 2012 Northumbria University’s enterprise programme has successfully supported more than 120 entrepreneurs whose companies employ over 1000 staff. Northumbria University is ranked first in the UK for graduate start-ups with a combined turnover of over £80 million—over £30 million more than the second placed institution (HEBCIS 2016/17).

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