AFTER opening in April, Magpies Bistro Café in Minehead has been a huge hit with its vegetarian and vegan menu.

Owner and Head Chef, Charlee Ann Todd, has always worked in catering, but this year she decided to start her own venture.

Charlee explained: “I’ve been in catering my whole life.

“Both my grandads were chefs and I grew up in my mum’s dads hotel – Channel House Hotel. I started working for him when I was young, laying tables and so on.”

After Charlee went to college to learn more about life in catering, the college employed her to run a mobile kitchen.

She added: “Then I went to work as a chef at Cross Lane House in Allerford – we won a few awards there. I then became the head chef at The Quay Inn along the seafront and then my mum was the manager at Toucans, the café. I fancied a change so I decided to give it a go. I ran the kitchen there for a year and a half.

“Soon after I thought, why am I running kitchens for everyone else - so I decided I wanted to do something for myself.”

The day that Charlee left Toucans, she viewed the building which is now Magpies, and the owner told them if she chose it, then she would need to open in just two weeks – and incredibly, she did.

The building was originally a café, so the building was set up already there, but it hadn’t been open to the public in six months so needed a revamp and of course – a new brand and menu.

Charlee explained: “All the recipes at Toucans were mine anyway. We stuck with the vegan and vegetarian dishes, as it’s so trendy. We’ve brought our clientele with us too.

“And because its mine, I can do put my own twist on it. So, we’ve started opening some evenings and doing themed evenings, where we serve meat and things, just to attract some different clientele.

“It is so nice to be your own boss as well. I can do it for myself now.”

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The team at Magpies Bistro Café includes both Charlee’s closest friends and her parents. Emma is a brilliant barista and Jessie helps Charlee in the kitchen.

Charlee’s dad is the current pot wash and her mum works front of house – it is all a team effort for the group and Charlee loves to experiment and try new things.

She is currently planning to try a few cocktail evenings as well as a few evening meals which include meat and fish. They are also holding Christmas party evenings too.

Yet, the café is predominantly vegan and vegetarian.

Charlee explained: “I like writing vegan and vegetarian menus and then challenging myself to make the dishes. The other night we did an evening with loads of sharing platters and I decided that I would make a gluten-free, vegan treacle tart – and I did.

“We really like to promote healthy eating and we sell a lot of smoothies and so on. Parents will bring their children here after school to have a smoothie and a child’s platter – all vegan and cut up small, to encourage kids to try new things.

“Vegan and gluten free cakes are great. Once you know how to do it, the cakes are easy to make.

“We do all the traditional ones – carrot cake, scones and so on.

“We’ve got banana and caramel at the moment which everyone loves. And I do like the vegan lemon and raspberry cake – I always make a massive 12inch cake, it always grabs peoples eye.”

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Everything at Magpies is made from scratch, including their breads, teacakes, burgers and all of their cakes. Eventually, Charlee would love to grow veg in her own allotment, like she did at Cross Lane House.

Charlee said: “In ten years time I would like a hotel, as well as a café. I’d like a hotel with a restaurant. What I’d really love is to get my grandads hotel back into the family, as he sold it when I was 13. I’ve always said that I am going to get that hotel back.

“I do love it. Every morning I walk in and I smile – I can’t believe I’ve actually done it. I don’t think I will ever not love it.”

To find out more visit their Facebook page @MagpiesMinehead