18 May 2021 by Deanna Thomas

This week Manchester’s People’s History Museum (PHM), the national museum of democracy, is launching a new sustainable dining experience in partnership with conscious food company, Open Kitchen. Open Kitchen at People’s History Museum will be the first licensed museum café in the country that intercepts food that would otherwise go to waste. The launch coincides with the re-opening of the Museum on Wednesday 19th May.

A museum dedicated to ideas worth fighting for makes People’s History Museum an ideal fit for Open Kitchen who are committed to fighting for a sustainable and fair food future. They aim to lead a radical change in the way Manchester considers, buys, eats and talks about food and drink. Open Kitchen chefs work with a range of food businesses to source perfectly edible food and turn it into delicious, nutritious dishes. Ingredients are local, seasonal, organic, independent and Fairtrade with short supply chains. In turn, they support other ethical businesses and social enterprises. 

Open Kitchen at People’s History Museum will be a fresh and modern cafe and bar operating from the museum’s Spinningfields home overlooking the River Irwell. It will offer an all-day menu that caters for everyone; museum visitors, after work socialisers, families and ‘digital nomads’. In the evening, the offering will switch to offer table service drinks and small plates.

As sustainability is a crucial element of the cafe, the fit-out used upcycled, recycled and reclaimed materials. Staff uniforms will be Fairtrade, organic and locally made and all of its takeaway packaging will be 100% compostable. A Real Living Wage Employer, Open Kitchen is signing up to the GM Good Employment Charter, with the ambition of creating decent hospitality jobs. 

“2020 has been devastating for the food, drink and hospitality sector, and it felt really important to us to commit to offer decent and stable jobs to good people as the economy recovers,” says James Bouchier, executive chef at Open Kitchen. “We know that our ethics around supporting people and communities to be resilient and successful has to start in-house, and it’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about working with People’s History Museum.”

The menu will be largely vegetarian and vegan, showcasing a smaller selection of meat dishes using Pasture for Life reared, locally sourced meat. Dishes will be seasonal, and Open Kitchen will be working directly with farms to highlight the beautiful fruit and vegetables that are grown in the North West. 

“We are a values-driven organisation and we’re very excited for Open Kitchen to be taking its place within the national museum of democracy,” says Katy Ashton, Director of People’s History Museum.  “We share Open Kitchen’s passion, belief and dedication for access to good food for all and look forward to their brilliant food and drink offer being part of PHM. Through this innovative partnership we will continue to place communities at the heart of everything we do, advocating environmental responsibility, inclusion and access, and committing to fair pay as Real Living Wage Employers.” 

Open Kitchen has evolved from a pop-up operation to a pioneering ‘pay-as-you-feel’ waste food restaurant on Oxford Street, to becoming Manchester’s leading private and corporate conscious catering company. The company’s profits subsidise its community-focused work supporting independent food banks and homelessness support charities with meals, ingredients, and other supplies. During the Covid-19 crisis Open Kitchen became part of the Manchester Emergency Food Response Team, producing over 140,000 meals to support local communities. 

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with People’s History Museum on this exciting new venture,” says Corin Bell, Founder and Director at Open Kitchen. “Affordable good food for all has always been something that we’re really passionate advocates for. To site our new cafe within the museum of democracy, equality, and rights, especially as the debate about the Right to Food rages, just feels like a perfect fit.

“When you work in a huge environmental problem like food waste, you’re always sort of trying to put yourself out of a job by pushing to fix the broken system, hopefully to the point where food waste stops happening in the first place,” continues Corin. “It felt important for us to start to demonstrate how we can change our food system to design out food waste. We hope that by demonstrating how short supply chains, working directly with producers, buying local and seasonal, etc can reduce food waste, we can inspire people to change their habits around food.”

Keep up to date with the latest PHM news by signing up to receive its e-newsletter, checking its website or following the museum on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr and Instagram @phmmcr.

Find the latest information and updates from Open Kitchen at www.openkitchenmcr.co.uk and @openkitchenmcr on socials