Owners of Crate Kitchen, a food truck that specialises in wild and sustainable New Zealand food, Dani Donovan and Brendan Kyle met while working at a pizza restaurant.
Having both worked in hospitality since their teens, the industry kickstarted their obsession with adventurous food. After working in London at a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant and eating their way around Europe for a couple of years, the pair brought back a wealth of knowledge about food and hospitality to Auckland - which eventually propelled Dani and Brendan to venture into the food truck life.
The idea for Crate Kitchen's focus on wild New Zealand food was born during Brendan's experience working as the head chef at Cazador, where he fell in love with using local and sustainable ingredients.
"We felt there was a gap in the market for wild food but in a more simple and familiar context. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our offering and set ourselves apart from our peers," said Dani and Brendan.
Aside from focusing on serving less common proteins, Crate Kitchen aims to incorporate under-utilised cuts of meat into their dishes.
"We are inspired by the original food truck of America, especially on the West Coast. Brendan likes to follow trends that are occurring in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco before putting our own Kiwi spin on it."
Recently, Dani and Brendan purchased a second food truck, smaller and nimbler than the original truck, to accommodate the wider variety of events they wanted to attend.
Their advice for anyone looking to get started in hospitality is to absorb as much knowledge as you can.
"There are so many areas in hospitality to explore and learn. Don't be afraid to try new things. We, mostly through luck, have almost always worked with employers that are happy to share their wisdom and discuss their lessons learnt along the way. It's important to find the lesson in each bump on the road."
In the future Crate Kitchen hopes to make their wild food offering more mainstream for the average New Zealander.
"We still find the odd person apprehensive about trying venison, goat or wild boar but more often than not, with a gentle push these customers are easily converted."