Story and photo by Vivienne Pearson
It is hard to imagine this Kombi van neglected by the side of a road, not working. ‘It was pretty much dead,’ says Olivia Ellice-Flint, owner of a new Kombi busines, The Grassy Bowl. Now fully restored, it is eye-catchingly beautiful, especially in the evening when garlanded with fairy lights.
The van was restored according to Olivia’s design – including a fold-down window (where food is served) and a top that lifts off (where Olivia stands to take your order).
‘My uncle is a mad keen Kombi fan,’ Olivia says. ‘I came across the food truck concept when I was living in Hawaii and it came to me one night to do a Kombi van version.’
The van is kitted out with commercial kitchen equipment and, for bigger events, food preparation is done beforehand in a shared space in the Byron industrial estate.
The food and drink available from The Grassy Bowl kombi varies according to the event but is all vegetarian, organic and free from refined sugars. Olivia uses as much local produce as possible. ‘I am also inspired by native Australian foods,’ says Olivia. Some of the delights include raw dips, nori rolls, raw-chocolate bars and cheesecake, ancient grain porridge, and the self-titled grassy bowl (a mix of vegetables, grain, ferments, dips and cheeses). Drink options include cold-pressed coffee, kombucha-based mocktails, and herbal elixirs.
Olivia, aged 23, wanted to start her own business after working in hospitality and training as a yoga teacher. She completed the NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme), which gave her access to a micro-funding loan. She turned to crowdfunding to bridge the gap, successfully raising her target of $5,000 in only 48 hours.
The Kombi was ready just in time to see the venture launched earlier this year. The Grassy Bowl has been seen at local markets and events, such as the Good Vibes Twilight market, held in September at the YAC, as well as private parties and events such as an art exhibition opening. Hiromi, a Japanese chef, is currently adding her skills and flair to the food and Olivia is on the lookout for an active business partner to help her take the business to the next level.
Olivia sees weddings as a likely source of events but notes the van is self-sufficient, so can set up in the middle of the bush. The business’s byline is ‘Moving Nutrition’ and Olivia sees it as being for anyone who appreciates things that are ‘fun and healthy but definitely not boring.’
The Grassy Bowl, available for bookings via www.thegrassybowl.com.