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May 14, 2015

My compact life: Veggie Velo

City life sometimes means putting lots of things into little spaces. In a new series, we talk with interesting people about the ways they've curated their life to work in sync with the city. First up, Veggie Velo and their kitchen bike.

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  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

The amount of organisation that goes into preparing a food truck for a lunch service is phenomenal, but doing the same thing on a bike involves some mind-bending feats of preparedness.


Check Veggie Velo’s Facebook page for their next outing. Manu does regularly appear on Leigh Street on Fridays – which is excellent news for CityMag as we are located just down the road.

But, owner of Veggie Velo, Manuel (Manu) Parez, does it several times a week.

He heads out regularly to serve vegetarian and vegan burgers on Adelaide’s streets and does so on two cargo bikes, which unpack and fold out to become a fully-functional kitchen.

Each weighing about 250kg, Manu says the bikes are easy to handle, “just a bit slow to ride”.

Contained within the bikes’ cargo holds is everything Manu needs to serve the hundreds of people who will visit him during a service.

“It’s fully sustainable and self sufficient, we don’t need power – there’s been a few times at markets or wherever we’ve been setting up haven’t had any power and that’s meant we can still operate when not many other people can,” says Manu.

Designing bikes which could hold everything from gas canisters to grills to raw ingredients wasn’t easy, nor was it something Manu had any experience with.

“We’ve changed the setup three times already,” he says. “Making the first one took probably six months to think about it and make it and then you go faster after you’ve sorted out the first one. But I’ve done it with the help of my Father-in-law and family and friends.”

As well as being uniquely compact and versatile, Manu also enjoys how close the bike-based kitchen brings him to his customers.

“That’s what I like most about the bike – the self sufficiency is one thing but the contact with the customers is the most important thing,” he says.

“It’s all about the food now and it’s great that customers can have a direct view of what is happening when I cook.”

Given the enduring popularity of his haloumi and mushroom burger, it’s no surprise that people want to get a little closer to the action. Without having something to watch, the wait between ordering that burger and taking the first bite can seem endless.

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