It’s the End of the Road for Wandering Cooks

After ten years, Wandering Cooks, beloved culinary incubator, commercial kitchen, and dining spot in West End that has helped many fledgling food entrepreneurs kickstart their hospitality business, has served its last dish.

“Wandering Cooks is closed. For good,” the sad notice on Wandering Cooks’ social media reads

“Wandering Cooks, the project to which I have devoted myself for the last decade, is closed for good. It is time to accept that the market has made this decision an obvious, if not extremely difficult, one,” Wandering Cooks founder Angela Hirst wrote.

Wandering Cooks started out as a commercial kitchen, helping launch some of today’s well-known eateries including El Planta, Alphabet Cafe, Nodo, and Pie Town. A year after shutting down due to COVID-19, the culinary incubator expanded its offerings and included a bar and restaurant along with a farmer’s market, before moving from Fish Lane to Vulture Street in 2021.

“Then, something called a lockdown happened. The irreparable exodus of so many of our partners, and the effective end of what we’d long been. A year or so in the dark. Then, gently, a farmers market, some coffee, then a little food of our own. Then a lot of food of our own. Then eviction from our home of 8 years,” Ange furthered.

With their new, two-storey warehouse space, Wandering Cooks evolved from its previous incubator concept and grew into a full-blown culinary kitchen plus a beer garden, focusing on locally produced ingredients and serving up to a hundred customers each night.

Sadly, when borders were opened, patronage dramatically declined. This led to the painful decision to finally close the beloved restaurant for good.

“Alas. Borders open. New year, new world. A ghost town, again. It’s time,” continued Ange. 

She then closed her farewell statement stressing that the business “never has a premise. It’s been people.” She further wrote, “So I guess I don’t really know what the question of Wandering Cooks was after all. But I reckon the answer turned out to be love.”

The dining spot officially closed last May but Ange assures everyone that she is doing OK and feels well supported. 

And as their way of properly saying goodbye, the Wandering Cooks will hold an event on 2 July 2022 at Lucky Duck Cafe & Bar from 5 pm till late. This will be a reunion of sorts as everyone who had been part of the Wandering Cook’s journey is expected to join the event.

Wandering Cooks Transitioning from Fish Lane to Vulture Street in West End

For the last eight years, Wandering Cooks has been a comfortable hangout for foodies frequenting the open-air location on Fish Lane and Cordelia Streets in West End. It has also been instrumental in launching and supporting local food businesses in Brisbane. Since February 2021, however, the food and markets hive has been slowly transitioning into a new space nearby.

In the middle of the year, Wandering Cooks will be permanently settled at the Farm Gate on 63 Vulture Street. In fact, its weekly Urban Produce Market has already been taking place at the new site every Saturday between 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More events and surprises will be revealed about this new location in the coming months.  

Whilst the transition is ongoing, the food and bar corner at its old West End location will continue to trade and accept walk-ins. Large groups beyond 11 people will have to book a reservation in advance.  As per usual, the restaurant will still deliver its sustainable food choices with a changing menu every week to highlight local growers and producers. 

Photo Credit: Wandering Cooks/Facebook
Photo Credit: Wandering Cooks/Facebook
Photo Credit: Wandering Cooks/Facebook

In June 2020, Wandering Cooks director Angela Hicks hinted about the transition amid the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Incubation will still be at the heart of what we do, and so will other food businesses, but stronger still will be our focus on making products ourselves,” she wrote. 

“This will allow us to act directly on the opportunities for small farms we want to see proliferate in this post Covid world. Their successes will be our successes. We’ll employ chefs, we’ll partner with others, and we’ll nurture new food business dreamers, like Thilakshi Munasingha, by employing them, so that their food becomes our food. Together, the farmers and this team of Cooks, will bind our stories together.”  

In line with its transition, the restaurant is also hiring more staff and team players. Interested individuals may email about the job openings.