Thomas White, the owner/operator of Straight up Vegan is a young man on a mission. He wanted to be a chef from the time he was 8 and at the age of 21 he has accomplished that and so much more.
Thomas left school and did his Level 3 and 4 chef qualifications before embarking on his Diploma in Hospitality Management. He feels that these qualifications have given him a well-rounded approach to setting up a food business as he understands pricing structures and how to manage people as well as how to cook great food!
He has worked as a chef in many prestigious establishments including Moiety, Vault 21 and for Ben Bayly in Auckland. More recently Watsons Vegan Café, Marbecks and Long Dog at the St Clair salt water pool. Thomas is no slouch when it comes to cooking competitions as well. He took out 2 bronze and one sliver medal in 2017 in the Training Chef of the Year completions and was selected as one of 5 commis chefs under 21 to compete to represent NZ in the Asia/Pacific round of a very prestigious culinary competition.
All these experiences have led to great mentoring opportunities for him and he is very clear that he wouldn’t be where he is today without these mentors. He counts his family in here as well as he comes from a family of business people. He grew up on a farm in West Otago and moved to Dunedin when he was about 12. He learnt to have no regrets, live your dreams and learn from your mistakes.
It was a pretty natural progression for Thomas to look at setting up his own business. It was in his gene pool and he saw the potential and growth in plant based eating.
Thomas produces his vegan food out of Artisan Pantry, the food hub in Kaikorai Valley. He specialises in vegan burgers and tasty vegan mayos. Vegan market go-ers are delighted to have a fully vegan stall at the market again and he has many regulars queuing up for his taste bombs. Thomas supports many other vendors at the market buying what he can from them. He will happily fill your container with burger mix so you can make your own and uses fully compostable or re-usable packaging for all his products.
Thomas still gives back to Kings High School by coaching the culinary team and preparing them for national competitions.
Food has been part of his family dynamic since forever. He said Sunday dinner at Mums was almost religious - every Sunday without fail, same time, same place. This young man is definitely someone to watch and we can expect further developments from him.