Chef has ingredients for success

By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on July 23, 2020

AN ALBANY mother and businesswoman has been nominated for the AusMumpreneur Awards, celebrating her efforts as a mum who also successfully runs her own business.

It’s often said that being a mother is a full-time job in and of itself, but that was no barrier for Owner and Chef of Alkaline Cafe Melissa Homewood to make the leap of opening her own business almost two years ago.

Ms Homewood said her journey to owning Alkaline was one of many turns since she got her chef qualifications in 1997.

“I actually left the industry a few years back because I had lost all passion,” she said.

“When you’re taught to become a chef you’re taught in all the very traditional French ways and it’s about butters and fats and milks and creams, and I got to a stage where I was embarrassingly 153kg and I felt like my occupation was killing me.”

After a change in career by moving into the fuel industry, Ms Homewood found herself being drawn back into the world of food and culinary innovation, mainly inspired by her own children.

“I started experimenting at home because me and my daughter are gluten intolerant and my son can’t have dairy,” she said.

“There was a shift happening in the world of people giving up meat and eating healthier, I wanted to get on that bandwagon and by doing so I’ve lost 50kg.”

One catering business and a lot of self-belief later, Ms Homewood was given the chance to purchase the cafe spot known as Alkaline.

“It’s been one hell of a ride, but it’s been absolutely amazing.”

Ms Homewood said being nominated for an award through AusMumpreneur is a humbling experience.

“It just inspires me to be even better,” she said.

“Some days you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job because you’ve got so much going on, but when people recognise it or when your customers make a comment to you it means a lot.

“At a cafe they’re not just your customers or your staff, they’re like your family.”

Ms Homewood had some sage advice for other mums looking to start their own venture.

“Brace yourself. Being a mum’s hard enough as it is, but having a business is a whole new level and challenge,” she said.

“It’s really hard to find a balance, but if you have a passion for being a mum and you have a passion for something you truly believe in, then I believe if you put 100 per cent into it, it will work.”