Look at the food truck offerings in any major city and you'll find a smorgasbord of tacos, burgers, banh mi, pasta, pizza, paella and "gourmet sausages". Perhaps a couple of dumpling trucks to round out the fleet and a vegetarian van hawking granola bars.
What you probably won't find, however, is a food truck focusing on native Australian foods. Clinton Schultz, a Gamilaraay man, is set to change that.
Together with his wife Lozen, the chef and psychologist and Gold Coast local has launched Clinto's Kupmurri, a food truck influenced by traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cooking methods and serving native foods. The business is a platform to raise awareness of healthy eating as much as it is about providing delicious food.
"Bush tucker foods are rich in vitamins and nutrients that benefit everybody," Clinton says. "I'm really passionate about my Aboriginality, but I'm also passionate about human wellness in general."
Clinto's Kupmurri uses native ingredients such as samphire and saltbush whenever possible. Photo: Supplied
Kup-murri is the Torres Strait Islander term for cooking in an underground oven, a method widely used throughout Aboriginal Australia. The oven is built by burning down a fire and heating stones with hot coals. Clinton's food is wrapped in paperbark and cooked over heated volcanic rock for around three to five hours.
"For commercial purposes, we can't have a food truck that cooks food in the ground," Clinton says. "However, because it's very similar to the Maori hangi, we've bought a commercial hangi oven from New Zealand that allows me to cook in a very similar way. I can still wrap food in paperbark, use sand, rocks and add saltbush and pepperleaf for flavour."
The food truck menu features dishes such as crocodile frittatas with bush tomato ($12), and smoky slow-cooked pork or beef with vegetables and damper ($16). Meals come with a side of coleslaw made with Australian ingredients like samphire and saltbush.
"Australia has a native carrot I want to use in the slaw, too, but it's to difficult to track down," Clinton says. "It's called a youlk and it's like a cross between a potato and a carrot. I'm also trying to get my hands on emu eggs for the mayonnaise."
Clinton's menu includes barbecued crocodile, kangaroo and emu served with native ingredient-based sauces ($14). "We make a satay where we use macadamias instead of peanuts, the ginger is replaced with native ginger and pepperberry substitutes for chilli."
Tasters of smoky slow-roasted pork topped with native samphire and riberry, and smoky roasted mixed vegetables with sweet potato crisps. Photo: Salvador Cantellano
The chef had trouble sourcing some ingredients because of restrictions around foraging for native flora.
"I'd love to be able to pay a local mob to go out and collect stuff for me and pay them directly, but there's a whole bunch of laws that prohibit it," Clinton says.
For those ingredients he can't legally forage, Clinton is using suppliers who ethically source from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and employ local peoples. Clinto's Kupmurri also plans to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the business grows and has partnered with the Preston Campbell Foundation to provide cooking and hospitality job opportunities to youth.
"We couldn't speak more highly of the work that the Preston Campbell Foundation does for mob and the wider community," Clinton says. "We'll continue to work together to build opportunities for others as well as raise social awareness leading up to and during the Commonwealth Games."