by Chris Webber, Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)
The Teesside dish of chicken breast in a bechamel cheese sauce might be considered a tough call to make for people who won’t eat meat or cheese.
But cooks at the newly opened Labrynth Holistic Community Cafe on Skinner Street, which has opened as a not-for-profit organisation after members of the public raised £900 set it up, have achieved it.
Deb Knibbs, one of the owners of the cafe and book and crystal store, explained they have yet to sell one – although their vegetarian parmo has been a big success.
The challenge was issued by customers who enjoyed the vegetarian option and wanted to go a step further. The secret recipe involves creating a vegetable patty and a Soy cheese substitute.
“We’re not ‘a vegan cafe’ but a cafe that sells vegetarian and vegan food,” said Mrs Knibbs, who added the gluten-free range was also popular. “Say you have three people and one’s a vegetarian, one’s a vegan and the other is dying for a bacon sandwich, well they can all meet for coffee here.”
Fellow worker Paul Bailey said ‘extreme vegans’ had come in to the cafe who would not even eat some kinds of potatoes and a kind of milk made from almonds was used for coffees.
No-one has yet taken a wage out of the business since it opened five weeks ago. A previous business, a book shop also called The Labrynth, on the High Street closed down partly due to lost trade during the town centre refurbishment. Regular customers were so upset they started a campaign to raise money to open the cafe.