Shannon Denson is the new manager of the Bridge Community Café at Holy Trinity Wester Hailes, a church that St Mungo’s, Balerno partners. Originally from Michigan, USA, Shannon enjoys cooking and has a heart for community development. She lives in Bonaly with her two teenage children.
Shannon Denson came to Scotland in 2001 to help her mum and aunt set up a clinical pharmaceutical trials company. Marrying a Scotsman and starting a family was not part of the plan, but that’s what happened.
She has always enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen. One of her friends calls her the “jazz cook”, because she likes to “throw in this and that”. But it was while she was an IT project manager at the University of St Andrews that cooking became her passion. Working on a project with the Halls of Residence kitchens, Shannon looked at food sustainability. “That’s what really sparked my interest,” she says.
Shannon loves developing recipes from scratch, a skill she put to work after opening her successful Bruntsfield vegan café, Moon and Hare. She included a number of gluten-free items on the menu, increasing the café’s popularity. “I loved it,” she says, “but being a single mum, I found that running the café was not allowing me enough time with my kids.”
In August 2017 Shannon closed Moon and Hare and took some time off – “to spend time with my kids and to sleep!” In the spring of this year she started job hunting, and saw an advert for a café manager for Holy Trinity Wester Hailes. “It sounded like just the right job for me,” she says, “and they gave me the warmest welcome I’d ever had anywhere.”
The Bridge Community Café has been running since 1995, offering good food at affordable prices. Shannon is seeking to build on this by making some additions to the menu: innovative salads, a variety of new hot dishes and quiches with a difference. (Maybe some of these will find their way into the cookery book she is writing.) In the past the café has closed for the summer, but this year the doors have remained open.
Staffed by volunteers, Bridge Café is open Wednesday – Friday from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. If a volunteer has not had much experience of food preparation, training is provided. Homemade cakes and scones are displayed in a glass cabinet, along with the baker’s name. Shannon has focused on healthy options, and recently the café was the recipient of the Healthy Living Award Plus.
“Holy Trinity is a great church,” Shannon comments. “It’s amazing how much time and energy the people give to helping others.” It’s easy to see why Shannon is fitting in so well. She loves feeding people, and sharing her knowledge about good nutrition. Her ideas for the future include establishing a community bakery and also growing herbs and vegetables on site.
To find out more about volunteering or doing a work placement at The Bridge, contact: email@example.com
First published in Konect September 2018
Author: Suzanne Green