Dietary graduate starts baked spud diner

A University of Otago dietetics graduate has set out to make a common carbohydrate a healthy option for Dunedin diners.

After a year of planning, Aysu Shahin (24) opened her Turkish street food style jacket potato restaurant, Patate, on George St.

"It took us a lot longer than we had hoped ... but finally we are here," she said.

Aysu Shahin from Patate in her recently opened potato shop. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Aysu Shahin from Patate in her recently opened potato shop. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Last month, Miss Shahin found the newly painted store had been broken into.

"It was incredibly frustrating ... we turned up here to discover someone had drawn some nice pictures on our windows and our freshly painted walls ," she said.

The restaurant was inspired by Miss Shahin’s Turkish and Persian background making a Kiwi-styled kumpir, or Turkish jacket potato.

Using agria potatoes from three local suppliers, Miss Shahin, who graduated last month with a masters of dietetics, admitted it was not a likely recommendation from a dietitian.

"One of my main goals as a dietitian is to show people that healthy eating doesn’t have to be restrictive, complicated or expensive," she said.

Miss Shahin spent last year putting the business plan together while trying to finish her thesis at university.

Last year, she participated in Start-up Dunedin’s Co.Starters programme.

It was a nine-week programme that guided her through aspects of the building a business plan.

She was also helped by receiving a scholarship from Start-up Dunedin.

Two accountants from Polson Higgs donated their facilitator fees so Miss Shahin got her programme cost back at the end.

Covid-19 had been tough on the hospitality sector, changing how restaurants operated.

"The whole Covid thing is always lingering in the background and [it gets you] thinking, ‘what if it hits again?’ We have plans in place for different alert levels. For example we have a window we can serve out of on to the street," she said.

One of Miss Shahin’s aims was to help revive the city’s hospitality industry.

"There definitely needs to be a boost to the food and hospitality we have, like making people want to come in and invest in their local businesses and local industries," she said.

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