From education to employment

Chester-le-Street café takes off during lockdown

Chester-le-Street café

A café that prides itself on serving fresh, homecooked meals is going from strength to strength despite opening just four weeks before the first lockdown last March.

Teri’s Bake Away Cafe, based in Newfield in Chester-Le-Street, is now busy on a daily basis providing takeaway breakfasts, lunches and tasty treats to the local community. The owner, Teri Clennell, has always dreamed of opening her own café but realised her love of cooking wasn’t enough to make her dream a reality.

As a busy mum of three, finding the time to study, work as well as parent proved tricky but Teri eventually found a flexible, part time course that not only suited her lifestyle but gave her the qualifications she needed to open her own business.

After completing a range of specialist cookery courses at Gateshead College including Level 1 and Level 2 in General Catering and, following this, Level 3 in Patisserie and Confectionery Teri was able to get a part time job as a chef in a local pub. However, months down the line Teri spotted an empty shop and that’s when her journey to becoming a café owner started. The café officially opened on 24 February 2020.

Teri Clennell, 36, from Chester-Le-Street, said:

“I have loved cooking ever since I was a little girl and would often think how amazing it would be to run my own café.

“Life, as always, gets in the way but once my kids were a bit older I decided to get the qualifications I needed to pursue my dream.

“The courses I took at Gateshead College were really interesting and engaging. I loved every minute of studying. The college offered evening classes which were perfect for me so I attended those three nights a week.

“My teachers knew I was a very busy mam of three and were super supportive. They were always willing to help and explain elements of the course no matter how many questions I had.

“Their support has enabled me to open a café, despite the challenging time, and finally realise my dream. If I can still run my café despite lockdown and home-schooling, I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

“The support from my local community has been amazing too – thank you to everyone who has bought one of my homecooked meals or treats!”

With the café only open four weeks before the first Covid-19 lockdown was put into place, Teri quickly switched to a takeaway service only. Teri cooks a wide range of breakfast and lunch meals from scratch and customers are able to enter her café safely to collect their orders.

Alistair Gilchrist, Curriculum Lead for Catering at Gateshead College, said:

“It’s great to see that Teri has opened her own business to make use of her talent and the skills she’s learned with us in college. “Hospitality has been especially impacted by lockdown restrictions but that hasn’t dampened Teri’s drive to continue to run her business and pivot pretty much overnight to a takeaway service.

“Despite added pressures, Teri’s can-do attitude continues to pay off, with Teri’s Bake Away Café establishing a good reputation in the area for delicious, home cooked food. We wish her every success.”

Related Articles