Maloka: A Vegan Health Cafe in East London
My first proper chef job was for a small vegan/vegetarian cafe and tearoom in East London. I had been in love with the cafe for a very long time and was incredibly excited when I finally saw a sign in the window, spelling out my dream job: “Wanted: Vegan Chef”.
Living in a warehouse community in Hackney Wick (East London:) at the time, Broadway Market was the ideal workplace for me, nestled in between coffee shops, pubs, florists, organic health shops, sourdough bakeries, fishmongers and butchers. Take it right out of the cafe and you get to London Fields, a small dirty park where you can spend an entire summer having BBQs, lounging about in the sun and drinking cider. Take it left out of the cafe, and you cross the beautiful Regent’s Canal that connects West, East and North London. Walk a little further yet, and you end up at Spitalfields City Farm where you can see goats, sheep, donkeys and chickens and Columbia Road Flower Market. A prime location!
I applied, managed the trial and started the very next day. I expanded my cooking skills quickly to incorporate raw, vegan and vegetarian food preparation. With only one chef on duty at a time, I was lucky to have the whole kitchen with all sorts of food processors, dehydrators, and other funky gadgets all to myself, to prepare food slowly and mindfully and enjoy the experience fully. I made sandwiches, soups, salads, raw cookies, crackers, pestos, hummus, vegan mayonnaise – everything made from scratch from good ingredients. I nursed water kefir and talked sweetly to kombucha, I learned how to make vegan chocolates and truffles. I had never been happier about getting up at 5am for work!
An online review from 2014 reads:
The café leaves you in a Zen mood with the green walls, large plants and shelves stacked with jars of loose leaf tea. They specialize in vegan/vegetarian soul food as well as chocolate. Ever-evolving, they can’t seem to settle on a name and like to introduce new types of drinks. It’s small—maybe about 8 tables large—so it quickly fills on busy Saturdays when Broadway Market takes over the streets and rain starts pitter pattering on the pavement.