Acurious sight greets you as you travel between Hout Bay and Camps Bay in Cape Town. In addition to the people selling their curios on Wednesdays, four food caravans have popped up at the Oudekraal market.
But unlike the hot dogs and ice creams you usually find at markets, here you find gourmet Italian food, Indian cuisine, vegetarian ice cream, and take-away tea.
Jessica Bonin, 28, laughs when she remembers starting the Lady Bonin Tea Parlour as a joke about a year ago. She wanted to create a local market for the organic tea she imports from places such as Japan, Sri Lanka and Kenya, but did not have the capital.
“So after a three-month search from Paarl to Franschhoek and online, I found this caravan in Klerksdorp.”
After cleaning, repainting and re-shelving it, she started selling about 30 types of tea, which she now packages and sells to restaurants in the city.
Bonin says it was difficult to find space to operate in the city,
so when she met Luca Costiglione, from Limoncello restaurant in Gardens, they decided to operate from the Oudekraal market.
Costiglione, 36, says he was running the restaurant for 11 years, and wanted a change. His business partner, Leigh, had been to the US and had seen the growing food truck trend, so they decided to bring the concept to Cape Town.
Costiglione says they found an old caravan on Gumtree, stripped it and installed equipment so it could function as a fully-fledged kitchen.
“We can cook anything from risottos to pizza to roast chicken, and it’s very versatile so we don’t always sell the same thing. And we plan to move around and have people track us through social media such as our Twitter account.”
Costiglione says they are planning to eventually have a fleet of food trucks in the city.
For former nightclub owner Irvin Vandiar, 43, the move to start Durban’s Finest Curry was simple. He sells the food, which he makes using his mother’s recipes, from the back of a small yellow caravan.
“I wanted to follow my passion for cooking and I spent part of last year trying to find a restaurant, but I could not find a good location for less than R30 000 in rental.”
Vandiar says he decided to operate from a caravan. “Food trucks are big in Europe and America and I wanted to bring the concept here.”
He sells lamb, chicken and vegetable curries with rice or roties, or in bunny chows, and has been operating from the Oudekraal market for the past few weeks.
Vandiar says it was difficult to find an area from which to operate because “some locations are fully booked for the next six to 12 months, so for now I am still testing the idea to see if it is working”.
Then there is the most colourful caravan which houses The Soft Machine.
Simo Constantatos, 28, manages the once dilapidated 1969 caravan, which was turned into a funky space from which he sells ice cream.
The idea was launched at the Design Indaba a few months ago.
Constantatos says a chef in Paternoster, Kobus van der Merwe, invented the interesting flavours, such as moerkoffie, and another which combines cinnamon, orange and coconut.
Constantatos says their ice creams are vegetarian, do not contain gelatine, and are dairy-based, using only natural ingredients.
The Soft Machine is available for private events and operates at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock at weekends. - Cape Argus