ON a plate: “We’re leaving the building” – Memories and milestones as café celebrates 28th birthday

Partying like it's 1988: Ministry of Food celebrates 28 years. PHOTO: Emma Luxton.

Partying like it’s 1988: Ministry of Food celebrates 28 years. PHOTO: Emma Luxton.

This June marks the 28th year of Wellington institution the Ministry of Food, one of the founders of the café culture that revolutionised Wellington’s image locally and internationally. For owners Brenda Jessup and Tony Lynch, the birthday heralds the end of an era as they prepare to move out of their premises next to the Beehive in search of a new home kitchen.

This Thursday and Friday, the Ministry of Food will toast the end of the working week with an equal measure of nostalgia and anticipation. After 28 years in the Bowen State Building next to Parliament, due to redevelopment, the café’s tenure expires in October. So Brenda and Tony are planning to party like it’s 1988. Today, scone and coffee prices have dropped to $2.50: their price when MOF bought its first steam-driven espresso machine, joining City Limits, The Buttery and Midnight Espresso as the forerunners who shaped the capital’s world-renowned café scene. They are running a Facebook competition with a $100 dining voucher going to the person who can correctly guess how many scones are sold on the day.  “The cheese scone recipe is my Mum’s and we haven’t changed it in all this time apart from adding a touch of chilli to the mix,” says Brenda.

Ministry of Food's famous cheese scones. PHOTO: Emma Luxton.

Ministry of Food’s famous cheese scones. PHOTO: Emma Luxton.

Come Friday evening as office lights switch off across Wellington’s government sector, Ministry of Food will turn on a serious party. Drink specials, complimentary nibbles, a DJ and karaoke are set to ensure the MOF’s final birthday party in Bowen St is one to remember. “We’re excited… after-work drinks on a Friday night at the MOF can be pretty legendary, so we’re making sure this one is particularly fun,” Tony explains.

As they close the door on the Bowen State Building’s premises, Brenda and Tony are looking for a new venue from which to run their catering company and continue to serve their loyal clientele. They’ve expanded into The Terrace, with Ministry of Food Bar and Kitchen or ‘Little MOF’ now operating out of the Morrison Kent building, where this week’s celebrations will also take place. Next on the horizon is finding the right spot for the cafe to carry on its story, keeping Wellington’s workers and civil servants caffeinated and satiated. “We want to thank our wonderful customers for their loyalty and support and all the great times we have shared with them,” Brenda says.

The early days: Brenda Jessup at the coffee helm, Ministry of Food. PHOTO: Supplied.

The early days: Brenda Jessup at the coffee helm, Ministry of Food. PHOTO: Supplied.

Join the party!

Ministry of Food  Cafe, 34 Bowen St

& Ministry of Food Bar & Kitchen, 105 The Terrace 

Thursday June 23rd

1988 coffee and scone prices (no pre-orders sorry)

Guess how many scones they will sell and WIN a $100 dining voucher!

Friday June 24th

Drinks specials / Complimentary nibbles / DJ / Karaoke

For ON-the-ball previews, promotion, advertising, interviews, reviews and photography for your cool happenings and concepts, contact annabel@onmag.co.nz.

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