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The Kaylee’s Story

December 1, 2020

Kaylee Gottschalk, Executive Chef at Kaylee's Eatery

Welcome to Kaylee’s blog, my name is Kaylee Gottschalk, but most people call me Kay. I am owner and founder of Kaylee’s Eatery in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. Throughout the course of my culinary career, I have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively and explored different cultures through food. So, whenever we create a dish at Kaylee’s, we always try to bring in a little taste of the world with a vegan twist, of course. But for now, let’s get into the story of how Kaylee’s was started!

My father has always known that I’ve wanted to pursue a vegan-based culinary career, part of which was the dream of opening my own restaurant someday. My parents have always believed in hard work and doing what you are passionate about, which has motivated most of my decisions throughout my life.

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to study at the Vegan Culinary School in Venice, California; Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy in Spain; Blue Lotus Hau Hin Cooking School in Thailand; a Healing Vegan Culinary Course in Bali; the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York; and finally at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.

In 2017, I was offered an opportunity by my father to pursue my dreams of owning my own restaurant. My father is my mentor, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him on this passion project! The location of this exciting venture was Comic Warehouse in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. 

Kaylee's Eatery under construction in the Comic Warehouse.
Kaylee’s Eatery under construction

At this stage the warehouse was still under construction, so we still had time to put our final plan together. We were constantly in meetings with architects to decide how to place this restaurant in the middle of a warehouse, and spent plenty of time refining our strategy on what we wanted Kaylee’s to ultimately be and stand for. 

In September 2018, after over a year of planning and hard work, we were finally ready to open! The months leading up to this point were stressful to say the least. It mainly consisted of sourcing and hiring the right team and training them in the art of plant-based cooking. In addition to this, we were still in the process of completing the building of the restaurant structure, sourcing and installing the correct kitchen equipment, sourcing the best ingredients for our dishes, and making sure we had the right suppliers in place. 

Kaylee Gottschalk making the first coffee at Kaylee's Eatery while it was still under construction.
Kaylee making the first of many coffees at an unfinished Kaylee’s Eatery

Designing the final look and feel of the restaurant was also difficult. I had a vision of what I wanted the restaurant to be, but choosing the correct furniture, cutlery, wallpaper, lights and other exciting details, proved to be tougher than expected. 

Last but certainly not least, the menu had to be perfect! This took several months of trial and error and teaching the team how to make each item on the menu. We definitely made some mistakes along the way, but every business does. The key is to learn from these mistakes and come back stronger than ever! My team and I have put so much hard work, love and passion into this project over the years, and I’m still amazed and proud of what we have accomplished.

Chef Kaylee Gottschalk and her famous Lox Bagel at Kaylee's eatery.
Kaylee and Her Famous Lox Bagel

To this day, we are constantly learning and evolving Kaylee’s to be better and better. We consistently create and innovate, coming up with new ideas and dishes that push the boundaries of what many people believe vegan food and dining to be. I’m so excited to see what the future holds, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

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