Sydney Café Symbol's Wholefood Approach for Charity

The team behind Folonomo and Sydney’s latest social enterprise café Portal at No.1 Martin Place, have taken their eat-good-feel-good projects north.

Sydney Café Symbol's Wholefood Approach for Charity

Located in the expansive 500sqm lobby in the heart of North Sydney’s office district, Symbol serves up a wellness-focused menu headed up by chef Michal Siudeja (Mecca, The Farmed Table) that gives 100 percent of profits to not-for-profit organisations.

Designed by award-winning Sydney architects WMK, the light-filled space features a yoga area with free monthly classes, an auditorium for events and workshops, and artwork from in-house studio Project 504 with artists including finalists in the Archibald Prize, the Doug Moran and Sulman Prize.

Sydney Café Symbol's Wholefood Approach for Charity

Siudeja’s love for fresh produce with a progressive touch can be seen in items like the crushed avocado with tahini and shiso on Sonoma sourdough, and chilled sago pudding with coconut cream, hemp seeds and seasonal fruits.

For lunch there are rotating salads created from what’s available at Sydney’s vegetable markets and served with optional proteins such as confit salmon, braised overnight brisket or soy and sesame tofu, and thick-cut sandwiches filled with the likes of free-range chicken, apple and coriander slaw, and miso mayo.

Sydney Café Symbol's Wholefood Approach for Charity

Drinks are organic and refined-sugar free with craft sodas on tap, and there’s a lineup of matcha and turmeric lattes, cold brews with speciality roasts from Ethiopia and Guji Mormora, and made-to-order fresh juices.

The social enterprise is run by The Pure Collective, which launched Sydney’s first "profit for good” restaurant Folonomo in Surry Hills and sister café Portal. 

At Symbol, customers can choose to donate the proceeds from their purchase to a choice of three charities including Eat Up, an organisation that provides school lunches to Australian children who would otherwise go without, Blue Dragon which rescues children from slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam, and Rural Aid which supports rural Australian communities. 

The profit-for-good philosophy is also shared by the group’s catering arm Ame, which operates on an "eat one, treat one” model, donating a meal to someone in need for every one ordered.

"The whole concept is about for love not money,” says co-founder Nicolas Degryse. "We try to source the best local, sustainable ingredients we can to create beautiful food that people will want to eat while giving them the chance to give back to others and the environment at the same time.”

Symbol has free WiFi, is 100 percent plastic free and next to one of the natural timber tables, there’s a board updated each month with the impact the café has had. 

To date, Symbol has financed 28,648 hours of education to children rescued from trafficking, 10,609 meals for disadvantaged Australians, 40,224 lunches for Australian school kids in need, 220,248 kg worth of carbon offset through trees planted and 802 bales of hay for Australian farmers. 

"I’m hoping people come in just for the really good coffee or to treat themselves to breakfast or lunch, but then leave feeling great about the contribution they’ve made at the same time,” Degryse says.

"It’s designed to be a community space - we’re totally happy for people to co-work in Symbol or just hang out for the day.”