Custom Folkestone C.I.C, a new food/art/community concept, will be launching in a converted shipping container on Folkestone's historic Harbour Arm in September, adding to the buzzing food scene in the East Yard of the converted Harbour Station. Custom Folkestone’s menu will be constructed in collaboration with the local community through an ingredients and labour exchange initiative. It will focus on locally sourced fish, seafood and vegetarian food. Conceived by artist and chef Cherry Truluck and supported by her board of directors Madeleine Hodge and Kate Hickey and partners Folkestone Fringe, Custom's approach is underpinned by a programme of artistic projects and events.
EAT | ART | BARTER
Custom is very definitely not just a restaurant.
This is our manifesto:
Changing the world, one whelk at the a time
We believe that big change starts with small, local stories.
We believe that understanding the landscape where food is produced enhances the experience of eating it.
We believe that getting involved in the journey from sea or land to table enriches it even further.
We believe that the experience of sharing food can be uplifting and transformative.
We believe that no-one should be excluded from this experience.
We believe that artists can help us understand all of this better.
We also really love Folkestone whelks.
THE EXCHANGE PROGRAMME (BARTER)
At Custom, you’ll be able to contribute ingredients (home-grown, foraged or locally produced) or labour in exchange for food in the restaurant. We want there to be multiple ways of getting your hands on amazing food and we believe that if you are involved in the making of it, it makes the eating experience even more exciting and accessible.
Our exchange process will create access to work experience and learning opportunities as well as making it possible for anyone to enjoy our delicious, locally sourced food and the arts events.
THE ARTISTIC PROJECTS
Custom is run by artists as an agile social enterprise, which means that it is a totally flexible entity that will adapt and transform itself as it learns from its own growth. As a working model, our artistic programme is central to this, it is effectively research through practice. In partnership with Folkestone Fringe, we will have a continuous programme of projects, residencies and events, built around themes like Customer, Vessel, Harvest, that will interrogate and inform the way the whole enterprise works. We have already worked with amazing folk like ]performance s p a c e[, Cave & Kiln, Living Words, The Ash Project and Folkestone Quarterhouse and look forward to future collaborations as we establish ourselves as the UK’s first dedicated food-focused art space.
HOW ARE WE DOING SO FAR?
We have got a shipping container and work has begun to convert it, just behind Dockers and Dr Legumes on the East side of the restored Harbour Station. This includes creating a shingle garden with raised beds for growing vegetables and herbs and a flexible kitchen and seating area within the the container that can adapt and grow as Custom adapts and grows.
Views of our converted shipping container from the sheltered shingle garden.
View of Custom from the Harbour Car Park
WHO IS BEHIND THE PROJECT?
The project will be headed up by Folkestone based artist and chef, Cherry Truluck. Her co-directors are Madeleine Hodge (an artist and producer, currently Project Manager of the Ash Project for Kent Downs) and Kate Hickey (a media and communications specialist and expert vegetable gardener). Custom Folkestone is working in partnership with Folkestone Fringe, with whom Cherry has a long-standing relationship following collaborations during the 2017 Triennial (where she curated The Architecture of Anxiety exhibition for FF's Edge: Push/Pull programme) and with the Urban Room, Magic Carpets and Normal? Festival of the Brain, for which she was commissioned to create food in response to the themes of the events.
HOW WILL WE DO IT?
Once established, Custom Folkestone will be a sustainable entity, with profit from food sales covering basic costs, funding our community projects and subsidising artistic work. We have made a three phase fundraising schedule to ensure we achieve our overall target of £23,000 needed to set-up the project. Phase One is complete thanks to private investment, this campaign is Phase Two and applications have been submitted for Phase Three through funding bodies. The total set-up costs cover the shipping container conversion for use as our venue, buying kitchen equipment (above and beyond that which is being donated by Cherry Truluck's catering business East Cliff Kitchen), building raised beds for the community kitchen garden, purchasing a van to enable us to conduct our programme of outreach and ingredients research, and securing the first month of wages for our staff. We have been very fortunate to have gained enormous community support, which has meant that we have been able to offset some costs and develop our plans with confidence, thanks to help with our business plan and cashflow projections from accountant Mike Braudy and economist Christopher Houghton Budd, business advice from Troo Granola's Helenor Rogers, marketing support from Academy FM, graphic design from Sean Brightman, architectural design guidance from Zoe Tallon and construction advice from Davenport Building Services and many more.