Catering co-owners chase the dream

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"Workhorses" .. Alimental Foods co-owners Hayley Harris (left) and Sheryl Hellyer run their catering business from a commercial kitchen in St Kilda which was built a century ago. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A commercial kitchen in St Kilda has been serving Dunedin for a century.

Alimental Foods co-owners Hayley Harris and Sheryl Hellyer began leasing the kitchen on the corner of Hargest Cres and Corruna St to launch their catering company in May last year.

Miss Hellyer, of Tomahawk, said the building was built in 1920 and a butchery opened in it that year.

After the butchery, it became a dairy for a few years from 1926, before becoming a fruit shop, and then Pixie Pastry.

Often older people would visit their shop to reminisce about Pixie Pastry, she said.

“Their pies must have been pretty good.”

Boutique bakery The Tart Tin operated from the building for eight years before they moved in.

A rumour The Tart Tin was set to move out of the building was confirmed by her “hoisting Hayley up to look in the window to see if it was empty”.

Commercial kitchen space was in hot demand in Dunedin so to get the jump on potential tenants, they contacted the landlord to secure a lease.

The pair were “workhorses” and had been busy since the business opened, Miss Hellyer said.

The work included catering corporate events, maraes, weddings, Christmas functions and providing cabinet food for a central Dunedin eatery.

The pair met working at a St Clair cafe before deciding to go out on their own, she said.

“It’s a risk but you have to make the jump.”

She resigned from her job, taking a punt her friend would follow.

Mrs Harris, of Portobello, said she had never looked back since joining her friend to chase their dream.

Working hard for themselves rather than someone else was “rewarding”, Miss Harris said.

Mrs Hellyer agreed.

“It’s long, hard hours, so it’s good to put that money in our pocket rather than someone else’s.”