Female nutritionist Vidushi Binani is the founder of Cafe Volonté, London’s expert-led wellness space. Crafting a professionally approved menu that helps make smart choices easy, Vidushi takes healthy eating to a new level with a feel-great menu that people can enjoy, and ultimately trust.
With a collective spotlight on inclusive wellbeing, Vidushi has created a nutrition-first menu that is transforming London’s healthy food scene. Built upon the principles of her expertise, each carefully considered dish features high-quality nutritional profiles with macro and micro-nutrients, that celebrate all food groups.
A judge for the Great Taste Awards, and Great British Food Awards with a qualification from London’s world-famous Le Cordon Bleu, Vidushi creates its dishes using sustainable, seasonal, and ethically sourced produce. This includes wholesome ingredients from post-workout protein shakes, barista-style coffees and fulfilling bowls that embody her ethos of sustainable wellbeing. Best-selling dishes include her whipped egg omelettes, chunky breakfast fritters, and Greek-inspired avocado on toast, while at lunchtime choose from dishes such as the salmon sake bowl or Thai Bangkok bowl.
Translating as the French feminine noun for ‘willpower’, Volonté is a place built upon feminine strength and a core belief that optimum wellbeing is achieved through a life of abundance rather than restriction. Opening its doors to her flagship space in April 2022 on Brompton Road – and with plans for two new central London openings immediately, each person who steps through her doors can learn about her passion surrounding the benefits of balance.
Previously navigating an unhealthy relationship with food which inspired her to train professionally as a nutritionist, today Vidushi is passionate about how people can fuel their love for food in a sustainable, balanced way, without having to remove what they love the most. This is why high-quality chocolate, wine and prosecco can also be enjoyed as part of a healthy lifestyle at Volonté. Here Vidushi shares her top food rules with LLM readers.
Celebrate all food groups
“I believe that we can feel our best by celebrating high quality ingredients across all food groups. My top rule is that wellbeing is achieved through a life of abundance rather than restriction,” Vidushi explains.
“Experiment with healthier cooking methods of the foods you like the most. Almost all dishes can probably be made in a less indulgent manner (without sacrificing on flavour),” Vidushi says.
Eat fresh and seasonally
“Fruits and vegetables have their highest nutrient content when grown and eaten in the natural season they tend to be farmed in. Enjoy fresh ingredients as much as possible and avoid processed foods,” Vidushi comments.
Listen to your body
“Our bodies will signal when something is not right. Our minds will try and fight these symptoms if we are dead set on achieving an goal, but doing this will lead to more negative effects in the long run. I recommend addressing these at an early stage before it’s too late,” Vidushi explains.
One size doesn’t fit all
“Don’t follow trends and information blindly. Every person’s gut microbiome is different, even if you have a condition that several others have, it is not necessary that the generic advice given will suit you as well. Take hints from your body with every small new change and only make drastic changes after doing research/seeking medical help,” Vidushi says.
Enjoy your relationship with food
“Eat mindfully, but don’t overthink. Adopt the concept of balance, enjoy every indulgence to the fullest, and know that it isn’t your final indulgence. You will naturally indulge in moderation as you know you can access and enjoy treats in moderation whenever you want,” Vidushi suggests.
LLM spoke with Vidushi on the challenges she’s faced, her advice on success and her plans for the future.
LLM: How did the idea of Cafe Volonté come to you?
I come from a business family background, although a very different industrial and manufacturing one. I was given a lot of freedom and opportunity to decide my own career path, and somewhere along my journey I dreamed of having a café space of my own. In 2020 while I was enrolled at LCB and during the pandemic, I started to gain confidence that I can take advantage of the gap in the health food market in London, especially as the pandemic had many casualties in the hospitality industry.
LLM: What do you believe is the key to your success?
Our brand is getting recognition for being different to other “health” food brands as we have made sure our beliefs truly shine through our menu and workout classes. We allowed the brand to evolve based on customer feedback but we made sure to maintain our basic ethos. At moments trying to stick to our brand values was tricky and costly, but in the long run it has paid off as we have created and continue to create a loyal customer base who appreciates what the brand stands for and the personal touch that comes from the founders.
LLM: What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Almost too much to write, but definitely in the initial stages it was difficult being a young girl (rather a team of two women) trying to convince landlords, agents and suppliers that we are legitimate and serious. Starting a new enterprise is always tough and it takes time and energy before people start to take you seriously, but my age and gender definitely didn’t help. I just learned to act with patience and not take anyone’s attitude towards me personally.
Learning how to work with people at all levels has also been difficult, especially post covid. Trying to improve customer service with a generation that did their last crucial years of online study has been quite a challenge. As a founder you need to be able to perform the duties of all your employees as you might have to step in and cover for them at any stage. I am constantly learning new skills and updating my knowledge to make sure that as a team we carry out tasks as efficiently as possible.
LLM: What are your plans now/for the future?
I want to grow the brand in London and other cities across the world. This year we are growing with two new locations for the cafe and evolving our operations to achieve scale, which will be a new challenge for us.
LLM: Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
I would definitely say that at no stage did you ever feel ready enough to start. It’s a similar feeling to the one people have when they are having a baby. As long as you have faith in your idea and are willing to work hard to achieve your dream, you should just give it a go. One is never fully prepared and ready to have a baby, but once you have it you learn the skills of being a parent. It is a similar mindset of being an entrepreneur. No amount of books or people can teach you the perfect way to achieve a successful business, you learn a lot in real time along the way.
In my particular case, I also found being young and having less responsibility to be helpful. It encouraged me to know that if I fail, I am only responsible for myself in whatever losses have to bear, and I will still be at the early stages in my career, with an ability to restart growing differently if needed. Of course, there is a lack of experience when you’re younger, hence the risk is larger than that front, but start small, work hard and learn along the way from mistakes and wins, don’t be shy or think you’re above a particular task and most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
Address: 299 Brompton Rd, London SW3 2DY