New destination cafe Sweetpea opens at St Andrews Museum

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St Andrews Museum has joined forces with a young culinary entrepreneur to welcome a great new destination café to Fife.

Zoe Forbes, who already has two successful ventures under her belt, has brought her unique style and exciting ideas to St Andrews with Sweetpea at the Museum, which opened on Wednesday.

“I’d been looking for another location for quite a few years without success but as soon as I walked into the beautiful café space in St Andrews Museum, I knew this was the place,” said Zoe.

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Surprisingly, for someone who has always loved to cook – and was an avid fan of the Great British Bake Off growing up – becoming a chef was not an obvious career choice for her after leaving school.

Zoe Forbes has opened her latest branch of Sweetpea at St Andrews Museum.  (Pic: submitted)Zoe Forbes has opened her latest branch of Sweetpea at St Andrews Museum.  (Pic: submitted)
Zoe Forbes has opened her latest branch of Sweetpea at St Andrews Museum. (Pic: submitted)

“To be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Zoe recalled. “We’re quite a creative family so I originally thought I’d do something with art and did a portfolio course with a view to going to art college.

“It was my mum who said ‘Zoe, you sing when you’re in the kitchen, why don’t you do something that makes you that happy?’ so I also applied for a catering course at college and when I was offered a place, it just clicked.”

After graduating, Zoe set out to gain as much experience as she could in different types of hospitality settings, including fine dining at the Tayberry Restaurant in Dundee, weddings and events at Forbes of Kingennie and large-scale catering at the Castle and Links Courses in St Andrews.

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“It gave me a feel for a lot of different styles of food so I could discover the way I wanted to cook, which I would describe as elevating the classics with our own twists and surprises.”

Opening her first café five years ago was a leap of faith – the premises came up in her hometown of Broughty Ferry and it was too good an opportunity to let go by. It has since built a large and loyal following.

In the early days, Zoe was working in the café by day and baking and prepping in her home kitchen at night, which eventually became unsustainable and prompted her second business – a catering unit called the Sweetpea Kitchen in Broughty Ferry, which also specialises in celebration cakes and where she currently employs one apprentice with another starting shortly.

Six new jobs are also being created at the new café.

“I’ll be following the same style with Sweetpea at the Museum as we have in Broughty Ferry – artisan food with great tasting coffee and a fantastic range of teas,” Zoe said.

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“We’ll have four seasonal menus a year and you’ll find what you might expect on the menu but it will be our take on favourites and comfort food.

“Our menu is a guideline and we’re very customer focused. Because we make everything fresh, if someone wants a dish we have but a bit simpler or adapted, we can do that.”

She’s also looking forward to offering the delicious afternoon teas that are a huge hit in her Tayside café.

Her ethos also embraces a wide range of vegan and gluten-free food, the tea range comes from a small independent blender in Broughty Ferry and she has her own Sweetpea coffee roast specially created by a supplier in Falkirk.

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One difference from Broughty Ferry, however, is that Zoe is already thinking ahead to the exhibitions in the museum and being inspired to create dishes that are linked to the shows.

Judy Rae, head of business development at OnFife, said: “"We're delighted to welcome Zoe and Sweetpea to St Andrews Museum. Her ethos and delivery are completely in step with our ambitions for the cafe and museum and we have no doubt it will build a great following in the town and beyond. It's also going to be a big hit with our regular and new visitors to this lovely venue."

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