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Chai Cooking and Nostalgia Bistro

App founder partners with restaurant to tempt diners on a vegan venture

The founder of an app designed to help people make the transition from meat eating to a plant-based diet has partnered with a local restaurant to highlight the dining options.

Danielle Welburn – whose grandfather Maurice had his own butcher’s shop in Hull – is working with the owners of Nostalgia Bistro to devise a special menu which will take diners on a journey from the restaurant’s meat and fish dishes and introduce them to a vegan adventure.

The menu, which will be presented at the restaurant on Thursday 30 March, will reflect the ethos behind Chai Cooking, the app which Danielle has been working on for three years and is now ready for a public launch.

Danielle said: “We know from the various data we’ve seen around dining wishes and habits that demand is rising for vegan options. One of the reasons we picked Nostalgia Bistro is the variety of their cuisine – there are always vegan options available.

“Our launch night will be open to all. There will be plenty on the menu to feed people who only eat plant-based food, but there will also be non-vegan dishes. We want to encourage flexitarians to come along and by all means enjoy the meat and fish, but to then try some of the vegan cooking.

“Maybe in time we’ll return to Nostalgia for another event with a purely vegan menu, but we recognise that making the transition is a gradual process, and the Chai Cooking app can help with that.”

Danielle grew up eating meat and turned vegetarian after meeting her partner David in 2011. She adopted veganism in 2015. David is vegan and their 10-month old daughter Hazel enjoys a vegetarian diet.

Danielle said: “I found it easy to cut out meat and fish. The move to veganism was more difficult because I love cheese. I went to an event to try cheese alternatives and the main thing I learned was that apparently it’s as addictive as chocolate!”

The move from meat was prompted by Danielle’s travels around the world, volunteering in Peru and Cambodia and helping to build a well in Africa.

On returning to Hull she began working on ideas for the app alongside her degree course in criminology and law at the University of Hull. After securing funding from SparkFund at the University, Danielle developed the concept further during her masters in business management and won an award for her dissertation on the industrial impact of food production..

She is now working with the University and Dr Roxane Gervais on trying to secure further funding for Chai Cooking and the hope is that the event at Nostalgia will help to build a profile and a track record.

Danielle said: “Initially my motives for giving up meat were all about animal welfare and some of the abuses I’d seen on my travels. Then I looked into the sustainability aspects and I realised that by scaling veganism – or helping people eat less meat and generate less waste – I can do more to help famine and drought than by building one well.

“The app isn’t a campaign, it’s a tool to inform people and to help them make decisions. I didn’t become vegan overnight, it was a process. Some people find it easy but most need help and that’s what we want to provide with the app.”

Yiannis Makris and his wife Mata are well known from their previous culinary successes at The Greek in Princes Avenue and Artemis Greek Taverna in the city centre.

They opened Nostalgia Bistro in Chanterlands Avenue last year and are planning to serve their normal menu at the Chai Cooking event but with some vegan twists.

Yiannis said: “We will have things like sausage forno, salmon and calamari but there will also be some of our vegan favourites, such as gigantes and our veggie heaven. We are sourcing some special ingredients so that we can do vegan versions of the garlic mushrooms and other popular dishes.

“We’re very excited about the event because it will show people that if they come to Nostalgia Bistro they can get the food they want. If three want meat, one wants fish and two want vegan we can look after everybody.”

Danielle said: “Yiannis and Mata will also be sharing some of their vegan recipes with us so we can add them to the Chai Cooking app. I’m really grateful to them for their support and I hope between us we can raise awareness of the animal welfare, sustainability, health and cost benefits of vegan food.

“We’d love to hear from any influencers who have health, fitness, wellbeing and healthy lifestyle as an interest and from people who like recipes, cooking, saving money – particularly for families”. 

The Chai Cooking event will take place at Nostalgia Bistro on Thursday 30 March with service from 6pm and last orders at 8.30pm. For reservations visit Nostalgia Bistro on Facebook, email or call 07599 177726.

To find out more about the Chai Cooking app visit or search for Chai Cooking on the app store.

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