Pop-up vendors bring gourmet meals to masses
Getting lunch at work these days is no longer a matter of pulling out a dull sandwich. Several pop-up food stalls have made their appearance on the streets of Jozi, offering quality, made-that-morning food for hungry Joburgers.
Full of Beans owner Marcio Mordoh has been operating for a year in Houghton and Woodmead, from a specially adapted 3-wheel Vespa. He offers tasty lunches, anything from croissants, mini pizzas and pies, to sushi.
He has two Vespas out there for now, with plans to put 10 more on the streets in the future. His Vespas are sophisticated machines, with a bank of batteries powering his appliances, which include two mini fridges, a coffee machine and microwave, a gas cyclinder and water tank, and an on-board computer. This is how he lets his customers know about what’s in the kitchen - via Facebook and Twitter. “We send out our specials for the day,” he says.
With all this machinery he has had to reinforce the suspension on his Vespas – he has indulged in some serious R&D to get it right and ended up with a handsome machine, in pure black with fold-out counter and window displaying his grub. His Vespas are powered by biofuel which he converts from his cooking oil.
Mordoh, a Brazilian, says he is “doing this properly”. His Vespas are neat and clean, with the food fresh and refrigerated, with wors rolls being blasphemy.
He says he’s based his idea on the food trucks in the US, a one-stop shop of good cuisine on four large wheels, parked anywhere you find a parking space. Mordoh reckons there are around 9 000 of these mobile kitchens in the US.
“Mobile food and coffee units are a major worldwide trend and since the introduction of good quality, creative food and beverages produced in clean and funky mobile units it has become not only acceptable but highly trendy to get your daily fill from mobile food vendors,” he writes on his website.
His day starts at 5am, when the offerings are cooked, then he hits the road at 8.30am, moving down West Street into Central Street in Houghton, enticing office workers to leave their screens to indulge their stomachs. Another vehicle does the same in Woodmead. By the end of February he will have a third vehicle on Rivonia Road.
Tra Amici, Italian for “Amongst friends”, has a different way of serving pop-up lunch – from a large white table at the Rosebank Fire Station.
In November owner Cristina Scola says she was approached by Mama, a graphic design company in the trendy complex above the station, and asked if she could provide fresh meals on the pavement outside their offices. “We provide normal, homemade, tasty food,” she says. Mama provides the table to make it happen.
Her meals range from scrumptious pasta, lasagna and vegetables to salads and special desserts. “There are a lot of people in the Rosebank area, walking to get lunch, going into the mall. There is a very small niche in market for something like this. This is not extremely elegant, rather very rustic but a decent meal.” She sets up table from midday to 2pm every Tuesday.
She gives you a cardboard carton which you can fill up, for R45. People are taking another carton for dinner, she says. The carton is big enough for the hungriest tummy.
She and her partners, chefs Malcolm Ryan and Anna Montali, have plans to open two other tables in the suburbs. “Cooking is a very passionate thing for us, we like feeding people, and that comes out in your food.” Scola keeps people up to date with what’s cooking through Twitter and Facebook too.
Then on Saturdays you’ll need your homemade food fix. Tracy Lipschitz and her daughter Alexi Kitay will be waiting for you with their Soup ‘n Stuff. They’ve spent the week making a splendid array of soups, from cold soups like Beetroot with Cranberry, and Gazpacho, and hot soups like Wild Mushrooms and Walnut, Oxtail and Butterbean soup, and Thai Chicken, ginger and lime soup, to Salmon Chowder and curried prawn with coconut milk. All delicious.
You can buy tubs of their frozen soup from the Jozi Food Market at Pirates Sports Club in Greenside on a Saturday morning, or dash to their place in Orchards during the week if you can’t wait.
“We have people coming once a week to buy, or monthly to stock up. Some people eat soup every day,” says Lipschitz. The business is busier during winter, soup being a natural for cold evenings. They make fish, meat, veggie and vegan soups, in large two-people tubs, or small one-person tubs for lunch, or large tubs as a starter for four people.
“They are preservative-free, free range, wheat and gluten free,” says Lipschitz.
“It is hard work but we’re doing what we know we are good at,” she adds. The two women cook these delights on a 5-hob gas stove with two 20-litre pots. Several large freezers complete the operation.
The love of cooking superb meals is certainly good news for Joburgers.