THE coronavirus lockdown was "a blessing in disguise" for a Newport mum, who used the time to realise her dream of starting up her own business.

Vivienne Read, a former chef at the Celtic Manor Resort and head chef at the Golden Lion in Magor, used the time to begin selling cookies and other baked goods from home - and used the money to launch her own business, Chef Read.

The 26-year-old has started up with a bright pink catering van - which opened for business at the Market Site on Usk Way in Newport on September 1 – and Ms Read aims to be running her own restaurant within five years.

South Wales Argus:

Ms Read said: “After having my son Isaac two years ago, I stopped working as a restaurant chef and launched an Instagram page showing how I made food from Chinese cooking to baking and built up quite a fan base.

“When the lockdown started and my son’s nursery was closed, I started baking from home and selling my cookies and other bakes.

“I’ve used the money from that buy and renovate the van and open my business. In a strange way the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for me. I’ve always been ambitious, but this gave me the kick-start to just go for it.”


In the catering trade since she was 17, Ms Read worked at the Celtic Manor Resort for six years with chefs such as television MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen.

The former St Joseph’s High School pupil made a name for herself in 2015 when she reached the final of Junior Chef of Wales, representing South Wales and winning the silver medal.

The Chef Read catering van is just the first step in business for Ms Read.

South Wales Argus:

Ms Read said: “I’m just so passionate about cooking. This is just the start. My aim is to be opening my own restaurant within five years.

“I decided to start with a catering van because I worked on burger vans as a teenager and I really enjoy the buzz of meeting new people every day.

“We’re right in the centre of Newport in a spot where 26,000 vehicles pass every day and I’ve made sure we stand out with the bright pink van.

“We cater for the breakfast and lunch market, but also sell bakes including my signature stuffed warm cookies.

“The first few days have been really busy and we’re looking forward to serving great food to lots of people.”

Chef Read is open from 7.30am to 2pm Monday to Saturday.