Little & Friday Every Meal
Kim Evans and Sophie Beck
Published 29 October 2016; Penguin NZ; RRP $50.00
There is nothing little about Kim Evans’ Little & Friday empire. From the size of her mouth-watering cream donuts, the endless weekend queues outside her cafés, the 10,000 free-range eggs used every week, an impressive annual turnover, more than 70 staff and two phenomenally selling eponymous cookbooks, Kim’s Little & Friday story is, without a doubt, a big deal.
From small beginnings — originally working at the Takapuna Beach Café during the week — solo mum Kim sold home-made fudge at the local market on Sundays to supplement her income. Her fudge was so popular she decided to extend her repertoire to include baking. And, as the demand continued to grow, Kim was eventually forced to look for a commercial kitchen. She found a vacant shop, where she set up her kitchen and cooked for the market. With the help of friends and family, she would prep all week, bake up a storm on Thursday and throw open the doors to her kitchen on Fridays, still continuing to sell at the market. These premises were to become her first café, which she set up with just $2000, kitting it out with mostly TradeMe purchases.
The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Little & Friday has grown to four sites, open seven days a week, and offering breakfast and lunch dishes to complement a legendary array of savoury and sweet baked treats, a tantalising-magnet for fans from all over the country.
Seven years on, Kim continues to ensure that Little & Friday doesn’t lose its original charm and the business stays true to its roots: a sustainable, family-based food operation that nurtures a community of staff, suppliers and customers who share common beliefs around a respect for food. They may not have created the most profitable business model, which probably frustrates her accountant, but it’s one that works for them.
Following on from her first two baking-focused books, Kim’s now back with her much-anticipated follow-up to Treats from Little and Friday and Little and Friday Celebrations, teaming up with the Little & Friday chef Sophie Beck.
Together, they share their most popular recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts, including soups, main meals and casseroles alongside sweet treats, making it an indispensable everyday cookbook as well as a special occasions go-to for Little & Friday devotees.
Peering into Little & Friday’s alluring cabinets, displaying the tantalising and abundant array of originally-presented treats, small painterly sculptures might come to mind. Interestingly, Kim studied sculpture at art school and her sweet creations are reminiscent of mini artworks. Kim’s daughter, Holly Houston, who started working in the café when she was 15, followed her dream to be a ceramic artist and she now works out of a studio at the back of the Belmont café. Her beautiful dinnerware is used in all of the Little & Friday cafés.
What also shines through is a generosity of spirit that infuses everything. Kim’s accountant would probably prefer she halves the size of her offering, but she remains adamant that she wants to treat her customers when they walk through her door. She knows how tough life can be for people and hopes a Little & Friday indulgence can provide a bright light on any bad day. Although Kim’s mindful that it’s important to have a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet, she also firmly believes people shouldn’t feel guilty about treating themselves.
In her introduction to her latest book, Kim (right) thoughtfully reflects on the evolving philosophy that runs through the business: ‘When I first started Little & Friday seven years ago, my ideal was to create an ethically correct food business,’ explains Kim.
‘At first I thought that simply meant buying free-range animal products, recycling and supporting other small local suppliers, but each year reveals a deeper understanding of what it is to be ethically correct.
‘For my business to be sustainable, it’s about a multi-dimensional way of operating.
‘It’s not just what we choose to purchase, but how to treat my staff and my community, the respect we have for the food, every choice we make to live harmoniously in our environment.’
She concludes: ‘Little & Friday has grown but our principles are still the same. To make good home-style food with produce from ethical sources, and ultimately to make our customers feel like they are entering our home for breakfast, lunch or dinner.’