Rowena James loves nothing more than bringing people together with the comfort of food.
So much so that four weeks ago she opened Puddings on the Deck out of her own home in Macclesfield.
“It’s good for our mental health and wellbeing. Sharing food and spending time with other people is an ideal way to face some of life’s challenges,” she says.
Being employed as a social worker for the past 18 years has allowed James to be directly involved in developing and implementing programs for families that aim to increase people’s sense of belonging.
“Sharing with others also gives us the opportunity to celebrate accomplishments, talk through difficult decisions and speak about what we value.
“I know we can do this in any food venue but I think the fact that I offer people a room in a country setting creates an atmosphere for group discussion that is enhanced by consuming comforting food,” she says.
Along with making sure her guests are well fed and comfortable, James is raising funds for Plan International’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign.
Because I am a Girl aims to support disadvantaged girls all over the world in getting the education, skills and support they need to move out of poverty.
“I am passionate about raising awareness of the social injustices that occur around the world.
“Part of the money I’m earning will be going to support this cause,” she says.
James has already donated $250 to the charity through the money she raised at the launch of Puddings on the Deck.
“It’s a feel good factor as well knowing you are encouraging others to think and act on global issues,” she says.
She plans to donate more funds to the cause through selling prints donated by the Art Gallery of South Australia at Puddings on the Deck as well as a range of plants potted in a variety of salvaged vintage kitchenware.
Guests at Puddings on the Deck are welcomed into their own private room, with French doors that open onto a deck with picturesque views of the rolling hills of Battunga country. There is an outdoor fireplace for when the weather gets cooler.
Inside, James treats her guests to three courses inspired by South Australia’s own Green and Gold Cookery Book.
There is a choice of a 1950s style prawn cocktail or sandwiches with assorted fillings, as well as savoury dishes sourced with ingredients from her veggie patch and a wide selection of cakes and desserts.
The room itself has a retro feel, with a mix of vintage pieces and modern fittings however James is more than happy to add a personalised touch for her guests. The large dining table can be adjusted to fit up to 10 people and the room is temperature controlled and features a smart TV for playing music or displaying photos.
“In July I am hosting a birthday party for someone’s 30th who enjoys the colour red and art deco. I hope to make her feel the room is made up for her,” she says.
James would like to attract small groups who want a place to celebrate a special occasion as well as community groups who want a space to eat and relax.
“I wish to invite groups of people from book clubs, garden groups, scribble and chat groups, family and friends. Any group who wishes to come together to enjoy each other and food,” she says.
While the council would not allow James to open as a normal café because she is in the wrong zone, her kitchen has been approved for private events and she is able to organise a liquor license if required.
Puddings on the Deck is open for morning or afternoon tea from Thursday to Sunday by appointment.
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