I’m Bonita, Head Chef and Director at Café Van Gogh. We serve delicious, seasonally-focused vegan food. Our social mission focuses on training individuals with learning disabilities in hospitality.

Some seek to build confidence and social skills, so we tailor our training to each person, be it front-of-house or kitchen skills. I oversee the kitchen, menus, and manage kitchen volunteers. It’s more than cooking; it’s about fostering connection, growth, and skills overall—making it a truly enriching experience for everyone.

In 2015, we initially started as a vegetarian restaurant but fully embraced veganism around 2017. This shift gained us popularity, attracting non-vegans too. Being vegan ourselves for moral reasons, my business partner and I believe in serving food that reflects our values.

I hope customers feel the passion and purpose behind what we do. It’s more than just a love for food; it’s about serving with a purpose. We’re committed to compassion, empathy, and kindness toward people, animals, and the environment.

I’m originally from Buckinghamshire and moved to London at 19. Uncertain about my career path, I completed a pastry course and began in the hospitality industry. My first job in London was at Corsica Studios, working behind the bar.

The experience instilled a strong work ethic through long, busy shifts. Transitioning to restaurants, I initially worked in meat and fish-focused establishments as a vegetarian, honing fundamental skills that I later transferred to vegan cooking.

Still unsure if I wanted to be a chef, I traveled to India and Sri Lanka, particularly Waikiki, which exposed me to a rich veggie-focused culinary scene. The experience opened my eyes to the incredible variety and flavors.

Upon returning, fueled by the desire to delve into veganism, I pursued a dedicated path, working exclusively in veggie and vegan restaurants, production kitchens, and as a vegan recipe developer.

I lost both my parents at fairly young ages, my mum when I was 17 and my dad when I was 27, but they are the reason why I do the job that I do. I was always encouraged to have fun, enjoy life, and do what I love!
📸🎙️by @delphine.cookk HOTK Reporter 🌍