In two short year the BusinessesForSale.com Small Business Big Heart Awards have gone from strength to strength. The increase in the number of entrants and the impact they have on their communities was huge and as a result choosing one winner was even harder. However we feel the overall winner was truly worthy of the prize and here’s their story…
Colin Hinds is an award-winning chef who has travelled the world for over 25 years doing what he loves – cooking. Just over two and half years ago he realised his ambition of owning his own restaurant when he netted a restaurant in Edinburgh, capital of his homeland Scotland and set about making it ship shape.
Alongside his unwavering passion for food, Colin always had a commitment to helping others, and from the day his seafood restaurant, The Kilted Lobster put on its sporran, the social enterprise element of the business – Cooking Up a Storm – came to life.
Colin explains, “It’s simply the way we were brought up, it’s the culture in Scotland to help who you can when you can. Besides me Mammy would never forgive me if I didn’t!”
The food side of the business came naturally to Colin, but to get the social enterprise side of it right he knew he needed to consult. It was with the expert advice of one of the Mission Strengtheners at Edinburgh City Mission, Zoe, that he was able to galvanise his ideas into a workable and effective social enterprise.
Colin explains, “Zoe was instrumental in enabling me to connect with those in need and help them most effective way. Her help enabled me to identify the needs that I could address through Cooking Up A Storm, to structure workable solutions, and to deliver real help."
“The result, Cooking Up a Storm, is the Social Conscience of our restaurant. We truly believe in influencing and supporting our community, our city and our country through simple and practical projects. Much like following a recipe we believe in a step-by-step approach to do what we can to make a difference in people's lives.”
So, alongside running his successful restaurant as a business in its own right, Colin managed the reinvestment of profits into an incredible variety of projects and initiatives that have filled the bellies and fed the minds of thousands of people.
Every Tuesday, The Kilted Lobster closes to the general public and invites families and individuals facing financial hardship for a three-course dinner. And although The Kilted Lobster is a seafood restaurant he lets his Tuesday night guests decide the menu, so if they want steak, they get steak.
One of the many organisations that has benefitted from this initiative is StreetFit Scotland, which offers free fitness classes to low income and vulnerable adults. Founder Michelle Reilly says “It still brings a lump to my throat when I think of the time my guys came here for dinner. Some spent the whole day getting ready, and for many it was their first ever restaurant dining experience. Colin is an amazing guy and his impact on those he helps is far-reaching.”
Colin adds “There have also been occasions where we’ve arranged for families with children who have special needs to have exclusive use of the restaurant so they can dine together without the stress and worry eating in a public restaurant space otherwise brings them. They’re a real pleasure to serve.”
One of Colin’s personal concerns is the burgeoning chef crisis in the UK, which he sees as an incredible opportunity for those who might find job-seeking problematic. Cooking Up A Storm runs work and job placed training for school leavers and individuals who face barriers to work. This gets new chefs qualified to feed the skill shortage as well as giving its graduates career-creating knowledge which boosts their self-esteem.
But it’s not just commercial chefs Colin helps to create; other courses run by Cooking Up A Storm give essential cooking skills to those readjusting to new living circumstances, dietary-specific knowledge to those coping with special dietary needs, and budgetary know how to those feeding themselves and their families on a tight budget.
“We work with schools, charities and civil organisations to deliver very practical training that gives people the confidence and knowledge to cook the best meals for their needs and within their means.” Colin explains.
The list doesn’t end there. Cooking Up A Storm has fed the vulnerable in Edinburgh a four-course Christmas dinner for the last three years, it has offered community chefs to those organisations and individuals unable to come to the restaurant to dine, and continues to work with countless organisations across the city and Scotland including Cyrenians, Food for Thought (Government Schools Programme), The Real Junk Food Project, Appetite for Change, Princes Trust, Circle, Enable Scotland, Street Fit Scotland, and Childrens 1st.
It will come as no surprise that The Kilted Lobster Won ‘Most Ethical Restaurant Scotland 2017’ and was named the overall winner of the 2018 Small Business Big Heart Award. Local MP Diedre Brock was among the many who wanted to congratulate him for his amazing achievements.
And what did Colin do with his £1,000 prize? He donated it to Edinburgh City Mission, the organisation that helped him create his amazing social enterprise at the very beginning. We call that just desserts.