In their younger and more adventurous years, Katy and Nathan Matafeo of Auckland food truck Earthspot worked on a melon farm in the Australian outback. They saw the way that the food system was going, and they were not impressed.
“We were sending off up to seven trucks of 18 tonne of melon a day, to travel 2500km to be sorted and sold to buyers at the market, to be scrutinised for not being the perfect shape or size or colour, and then to be sent back on sometimes the same truck, 2500km the other way, back past the farm and put on the shelf at Woollies,” Katy told Restaurant and Café.
After five years working on and off at the melon farm, the pair moved back to New Zealand. They tried a backpackers, an organic farm and a café before deciding on the food truck concept. They had seen the development of Silverdale, on Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast, and the popularity of the park and ride to the city and decided to take advantage of the growth. “We thought it would be great if we could offer commuters at an early hour, coffee, healthy breakfast on the go and lunches to take to work,” she explains. Earthspot opened on Easter weekend 2016.
It was their experiences with foolish melon transportation systems that led to their philosophy to always source locally. They get their honey from F & J Honey in Orewa, Matakana Superfoods for their superfood powders, and bread from the Bread and Butter Bakery in Milford. Their meat comes from local butcher Sausage by Design and their eggs from Olliff Farm, delivered to them straight from the farm only ten minutes away. They venture further afield for their milk (Papakura’s Green Valley Milk) and even further for their coffee (People’s in Wellington), although neither distance comes close to 2800km. “There are still a few things that we need to get from the supermarket,” admitted Katy, “But we spend a lot of time thinking and sourcing the best, fairest local ingredients we can, and I think this is reflected in the taste of our food.”
Their breakfast menu is made up of Kiwi classics with their best selling item being the ‘Big Boy Bap’ – nitrate-free free range bacon, egg, smashed avocado, cashew aioli, roasted tomato sauce and caramelised onion. Other options include a steak and egg burger, a gourmet hotdog and a simple toastie. The restricted space means that Katy and Nathan have made the mistake of making things to complicated and have subsequently had to pare things back so that they still taste good but can be served in a hurry.
Earthspot is based in Silverdale during the week but has been known to travel as far north as Kerikeri, catering a wedding last year. Mainly, though, they try to stick to their area. “We enjoy working community events in the area we grew up in, we get to see our family and friends and familiar faces on the Hibiscus Coast. Our daily coffee spot during the week is always a good chance to chew the fat with our regulars.”
Both Nathan and Katy have a background in foodservice. Katy studied a diploma in culinary arts and worked in a number of cafés and wedding venues. Nathan is an “avid lover of food” and has held a couple of odd jobs in cafés and kitchens. The pair would like to see Earthspot grow organically (their pun) into a café one day. “We feel the food truck is a good step towards this, but for now we are learning and enjoying the journey in our first business venture.”