Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Realise Enterprises

ProjectStage 2 development of Tasty Plate Social Enterprise



ProgramOther Past Programs

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy
Building capacity Expand operations with a second kitchen that will incorporate event catering.
Extending opportunity Provide 13 additional positions for young people with disabilities; increase skill development and training opportunities for transition to open employment.
Collaboration and partnership Develop meaningful regional employment, training and career pathways for people with disabilities in the Warrnambool area.

Tasty Plate expands catering operations and employment opportunities with second kitchen

Established in 2010 with just seven employees, Tasty Plate has now grown to a team of 40, including half a dozen volunteers. A project of Realise Enterprises in Warrnambool, Tasty Plate was enjoying considerable success in corporate catering, but expansion was hampered by its existing kitchen facilities. The organisation sought funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for a commercial walk-in fridge and freezer for a second kitchen in Warrnambool to enable it to offer event catering and boost employment of people with disabilities. Tasty Plate won the 2012 Powercor Business Excellence Award for best Community/Government Enterprise in Warrnambool.

Image Lisa teaches Sean how to crack an egg

With its existing commercial kitchen operating at full capacity both in catering output and training positions, Tasty Plate found itself in the frustrating position of knocking back catering requests. It had also identified opportunities for event catering such as weddings, 21st birthdays and Christmas parties, but was unable to tap into this market because of its limited facilities.

A licence agreement was signed with Warrnambool City Council for a second catering kitchen in a prominent position in the CBD, and HMSTrust granted funding for a walk-in fridge and freezer. This would allow Tasty Plate to store more cool food and freeze its own goods so it had stock on hand to meet increased demand.

Project aims

These included:

  • Expand operations to incorporate event catering
  • Provide additional training positions
  • Increase skill development and training opportunities for transition to open employment

The new kitchen opened in April 2013, enabling Tasty Plate to offer 13 new positions for young people with a disability, four more than originally anticipated.

The event catering arm was launched the following month, and a number of weddings and Christmas parties were attracted by its high-end canapés and tempting buffets.

Employees are offered more advanced training opportunities, including more complex cooking tasks, waiting roles, customer service, event management and barista training. During downtime, they are able to partially prepare catering food items and keep the new freezer well stocked.

Realise Enterprises CEO, Helen Ridgwell, says Tasty Plate never has to knock back a catering order because plenty of stock is at hand.

Tasty Plate was also able to establish a small café on the same site as its new kitchen.  Open four hours a day, it is providing additional retail skills training for employees, eight of whom are flagged for transition to open employment.

“We have also appointed a training and transition coordinator who is developing our internal training as well as identifying suitable external opportunities,” Ms Ridgwell says.

Staff wear uniforms and fulfil normal workplace obligations such as completing time sheets and applying for annual leave. They have a range of opportunities to develop customer and social skills, including delivering food with the assistance of volunteer drivers, working in the café and waiting at corporate and social events.

“Their jobs mean they have more money in their pockets,” Ms Ridgwell says. “They become more independent and can make more decisions for themselves, such as saving for an IPad or a holiday.”


“Their jobs mean they become more independent.” Ms Ridgwell says.