ORIGIN8 – OUR STORY
The idea for Origin8 grew out of a shared passion for the highest quality food among the cafés' founders Jane Scriven (Chairman, pictured right) and Stephen Tutt.
"Stephen and I had worked for a large multi national, with me running fresh food factories and Stephen in sourcing," says Jane. "I wanted to set up the best cafés and catering facility possible, with fantastic ingredients and a terrific chef working with wonderful produce.
"The economics of large-scale food production mean that smaller suppliers of specialist foods often get squeezed out, because they simply can't match the scale that's needed. I wanted to use what they offer and Stephen pointed out that if we wanted to make a real difference, all the products ought to be local. He was right."
Stephen adds, "The more we thought about it, the more it made sense and our mantra became Local food matters. It simply isn't necessary for the ingredients in a dish to come from as far away as Thailand, Brazil or Kenya. A chicken shouldn't have the carbon footprint of a jumbo jet. That led to another guiding principle - The shorter the journey, the fresher the food."
Jane and Stephen started out in 2005 to pursue the dream and scoured the Anglian counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk for small suppliers of great-tasting food and drink, from livestock farmers to cheese-, jam- and wine-makers, looked for the right premises - and did some very hands-on research.
Through the cold winter months of 2006, they found out whether local people would buy into their ideas by setting up a food stall at Cambridge market. "We carried out old-fashioned research by talking to people and it became very clear that our future customers were searching for the way things used to taste – fresh, zingy and full of flavour – and not for mass-produced, preserved, bland, long-life products," says Jane.
"A lot of people want to know where their food comes from and want to be reassured that it's been reared and grown ethically and with care."
It's now more than seven years since Origin8 opened its doors in June 2007. In 2008, the business expanded into corporate, event and conference catering.
Then, in August 2011, we opened our second Origin8 Express café at the Faculty of Education near Homerton College. It's a wonderful setting, looking out over the Faculty gardens, where we serve a range of hand-made hot meals, salad bar, sandwiches, cakes and snacks – all hand-made in our kitchens – and a lot more.
Since then we have won preferred supplier status for Cambridge University for both their conference and lunch time catering making us one of only a few suppliers who can provide their hospitality requirements in their faculties.
In November 2013 we took over the café at Sacrewell, a children’s farm and heritage water mill site near Peterborough. We have now had it refurbished to provide a contemporary, comfortable setting for our hand-made range of hot foods including meat ball ragu; shepherds' pie and chicken goujons; our cakes and scones for teas; and our selection of children’s food. We also have a kiosk outlet for snacks and drinks in Sacrewell's Activity Barn.
"Since opening we have won the Ixion Challenge to find the business most likely to survive and thrive in the difficult financial climate," says Jane. "We were chosen as official caterers to the Darwin Anniversary Festival , Cambridge University's most important event during its 800th anniversary year.
"The best was to win the small business category in the Telegraph Magazine Shop Awards . It tells us that people really like what we're doing, which is the best reward of all."
THE ENVIRONMENT AND RECYCLING
Our local environment is important to us. We actively reuse or recycle virtually everything in the Origin8 Express cafés.
Our cups are made from cornstarch and are biodegradable. Our cutlery is made from sustainable wood – and it's easier to use than plastic alternatives. Our napkins and plates are made from sugar beet pulp and are composted.
All our glass and cardboard waste is recycled. Very little waste is sent to landfill.