An exciting and refreshing change has crept into Perth’s food scene – the humble food truck. Breaking out of their usual business at music festivals and other outdoor events, food trucks have started serving food to locals who want fast, fresh and tasty meals that they can enjoy in different surroundings.
Comida do Sul is a standout example, introducing Perth taste buds to Brazilian food. The pair behind Comida do Sul is Joel Wynn Rees, raised in Broome, and Dany Flauzino, who grew up in the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo. Dany and Joel met while Joel was doing a photographic project in Sao Paulo. They fell in love and spent a few years traveling back and forth between their home countries before Joel convinced Dany to move to Australia. We caught up with Joel to find out more about Comida do Sul.
What inspired you to start up a food truck?
The Brazilian lifestyle! Serving street food has been our dream for a long time. After spending time in Brazil, we were inspired by many aspects of the street culture and music and tried to recreate this in the form of our food truck. Perth has been crying out for change and new ideas and we thought the climate and lifestyle here are perfect for drinking coconuts and eating beans and rice by the beach.
The project took us about a year to get off the ground, beginning with submitting a proposal to the City of Fremantle for a food vehicle license. When I sat down with Mayor Brad Pettit and gave him lowdown on the idea, he loved it! I couldn’t believe how into it he was. After that, we began the long process of constructing the truck.
Who designed the awesome graphics on your truck?
We wanted to make the design of the truck unique to Brazil but also adapted and modernised for the Australian palate. During our travels, we photographed and recorded shop fronts, signs, fonts, colours and anything else that inspired us. We gave this research to a friend in Brazil, Victor Magalhães Silva. Victor is more than a graphic designer – he lives a lifestyle that we wanted the truck to portray. He plays in an Afro-tropical instrumental jazz band called Iconili and his designs evoke the old and new worlds of Brazil. We bounced ideas back and forth for many months until we came up with the beautiful work you see on our truck.
We had it hand painted by a sign writer here in Perth, this was important to us as hand painting is a traditional art form that encapsulates the whole idea of Comida do Sul.
What is unique about Brazilian food and how did you learn to cook it?
Our food is a modernised twist of the traditional Brazilian dishes. We use ingredients that you would find in any Brazilian kitchen or bar. The food is unique because of the simplicity of the flavours.
I have always been into the exotic flavours and Dany grew up with the dishes we are creating; they are recipes passed down from Dany’s grandmother and mother. Since moving to Australia, Dany has adapted the grandma style beans and rice with her own flavours but we are still focused on keeping the food traditional – we don’t want to change the food, we simply want to share it with a larger audience.
What is on your menu?
Coxinha – a popular Brazilian deep fried snack made with wheat flour and potato, filled with spiced shredded chicken.
Prato Feito – a famous Brazilian dish that includes picanha grill (beef steak), farofa (crushed, roasted Brazilian yam), black beans, rice, mandioca frita (fried cassava), vinaigrette and kale.
Choripán – Argentinian-style hot dog that is also eaten in the south of Brazil, made of chorizo, homemade mayo, vinaigrette (tomato salsa) and chimi churri in a bun.
Batata Frita – shoestring fries.
La Paleta – Mexican style ice cream.
Pudim – creamy coconut flan.
Guaraná – soft drink made with Brazilian berry.
Água de Coco – fresh coconuts.
All the dishes have vegetarian options. We have a handmade bean sausage which is delicious!
What is the most popular dish you serve?
The Prato Feito, which is a substantial beans and rice dish with a side of grilled rump steak. This is also the most popular dish in Brazil. Most Brazilians eat simple, tasty beans and rice for lunch every day. When I went to Brazil, I feel in love with the beans; there are hundreds of varieties. In Perth, we don’t have as many options, so we import black beans feijão preto from Brazil.
Where do you usually serve your food and how did you pick those locations?
We have a number of locations we trade out of in Fremantle and we are hoping to extend this to other suburbs as well. We usually serve from parks such as Booyeembara Park, Wilson Park, South Beach, Esplanade Park, Leighton Beach and Curtin University.
We want to celebrate the locations we are in, like the beautiful parks and beaches. For the people who come down for a walk or a swim, having the option to try something they have never had before is a wonderful thing. We also do festivals and private catering.
Will you eventually switch to opening a restaurant or do you plan to stick with the food truck?
I guess we will see how the food truck thing goes in Perth. We are hoping it will last and people will embrace the idea. Being a mobile restaurant is pretty amazing. So far, people have really taken to the whole concept and can’t get enough of our beans and rice. In the future, we hope to have live music at some of our locations and, who knows, maybe even a Brazilian beer to wash it all down with.
Where would you go on your perfect day out in Perth?
The beach! Fresh coconuts and beans and rice by the beach is a perfect way of life! Joel.
Photographs are by www.cleftpalette.com.