The moment I fell in love with food trucks was when I saw “Chef”, the 2014 film about a man (Jon Favreau) who leaves his job as a professional cook in a Los Angeles restaurant to reconnect with his son and pursue a life selling Cuban sandwiches out of a mobile restaurant. It was an honest, funny and happy film (a rarity), with an incredible soundtrack and it somehow left you feeling nourished despite not having actually fed you.
It made me think “why don’t we have more food trucks in Sydney?”. Reflecting on that thought again now, I realised that over the past couple of years we actually have seen a growth in quality food trucks – this recent Good Food article on launching a food truck business with a Melbourne focus is demonstrative of the trend, and although Melbourne is doing food trucks a little better than Sydney, events like the Street Food Circus are closing the gap.
This was the first event I attended solely using Viva. I had seen it on the wheel and been invited by Horace. The event was an “indoor and outdoor pop up social” sporting food trucks, craft beer, live music, entertainment and more. I was hoping to speak with some of the stalls and trucks at the event to see if they had any interest in using Viva.
I arrived in Marrickville at about 1:00pm on Sunday afternoon. Fraser Park is located along a noisy freight train line, with the park’s carpark surrounded by chain fencing, excessive graffiti, shipping containers, and old abandoned vans. On approaching the entry I could hear Elvis being played loudly on a speaker system and could smell a wonderful array of flavours – chicken skewers in particular – wafting in the air. It felt like Melbourne, so it was a good start.
The event space itself was cosy and reminiscent of a school fete. There was a gazebo, plenty of shade, a scattering of food trucks (Let’s Do Yumcha, Greek Street Food, Agape Organic, Big Papas) and food stalls and a hall that had been fitted out for circus performances. This would be a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with a group of friends, and I was quietly annoyed I hadn’t made more of an event out of this with my own friends. I grabbed some kebabs from Saigon Summer Streetfood (which were extremely well flavoured and perfectly char-grilled) and went for a wander.
I quickly realised approaching food trucks would be a bit of a challenge – they were busy cooking and the height difference and distance between the window of the truck and where I stood meant I couldn’t sustain a conversation. I also couldn’t demonstrate Viva on the screen of my phone given the limited arm reach and asking people to leave their food trucks felt far too awkward.
I decided I’d be better off talking with some of the stalls and getting their impressions of Viva. The response was largely positive, with stall users expressing interest in engaging in a new way of reaching customers. Everyone I spoke to said they would use something like Viva, either to promote events or to see what is going on. One guy I spoke to from the Mountain Goat Beer bar said he used the What’s On Sydney website to find events but an app like Viva made a lot more sense. I also spoke with Dom and Lily of Waffles & Dom, a vegan waffle stall, and Emily and Londer of the Doughnut Dealer. The quality of food from both stalls was strong, and I was particularly excited to see whether vegan ice cream and waffles could be delicious (the answer is 100% totally very yes).
As I sat stuffing my face with vegan goodness (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type), the Swinging Gypsies started playing their folky bluegrass set – and for a moment I was far away from Sydney. There’s something about the dull thump of a double bass coupled with the playful dance of a fiddle that fills me with a sense of elation and takes me far away to another era on another continent. It somehow feels ancient and recent at the same time. Or maybe it was the caramel on the waffles.
Walking out of the event, I reflected on what the experience meant. Sydney needs more events like the Street Food Circus to give people that new experience, that sense of elation, that taste of another place. More people need to know about these events, and reputation and marketing is key to the success of events like Street Food Circus. I think Viva fills this need, and has the potential to be a huge resource for event organisers. I would need to reconsider how I approach different event organisers about Viva, and assess when is the best time for a face to face demonstration of the app – but until the dream of more food trucks in Sydney continues!