Catering, markets and recipe testing are helping vegan food trucks through the pandemic

Fox and Badger owners Lindsay Robinson and Maria O'Leary have been constantly adapting to new public health measures.

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Fox and Badger owners Lindsay Robinson and Maria O’Leary have been constantly adapting to new public health measures.

When your income depends on festivals and events, operating during the Covid-19 pandemic means finding ways to adapt your business to ever-changing rules is more important than ever.

Lindsay Robinson and Maria O’Leary opened their plant-based food truck, The Fox and Badger, in June 2020, so they learned all about adapting to the changing environment.

Already this year, several events they were due to work on had been canceled including the Wānaka A&P Show, Central Otago A&P Show, Ripe Wine Festival, Dunedin Beerfest and Wānaka Beerfest. Their last big event – the Christchurch Vegan Expo – took place on the day the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand was about to go through a red light.

The couple typically travel from event to event, setting up the truck on hot summer days to sell the best plant-based jalapeno nachos.

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“Almost everything was canceled on us [but] we still do markets, private catering and pop-ups at breweries,” Robinson said.

O’Leary said they would come through the worst.

“Foxes and badgers are bold and adaptable creatures. Canceling larger events has allowed us to build great relationships with people at more intimate events.

The idea of ​​the food truck was born during the March 2020 lockdown.

The Fox and Badger food truck offers the best plant-based chili nachos in the Deep South.

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The Fox and Badger food truck offers the best plant-based chili nachos in the Deep South.

“We wanted to buy a food truck for a little while and while we were in lockdown we found a food truck on Trade Me and went there,” Robinson said.

“I guess we both wanted to put our time and effort and energy into something that was ours, and it’s been quite rewarding to see that grow even during the pandemic.”

The menu is completely plant-based, but they try to keep their customers guessing what they are using.

Robinson said the most popular thing on the menu was their Japanese pancakes with grated vegetables, miso mayonnaise and pickled ginger.

the latest Covid rules weren’t all bad news for the pair. Chefs had taken extra time to focus on recipe testing, using new ingredients such as scotch bonnets and taro.

O’Leary said they also take advantage of Central Otago’s offerings and its famous stone fruits to make sauces, chutneys and jams to use in their dishes.

“We frequented local markets, which regularly open doors to new friendships and dining opportunities.”

In the absence of events, they had found work through friends and other contacts.

“We have noticed an increase in requests for private catering, which we are excited about as it allows us to get creative in the kitchen by designing individual menus.”

Robinson says surviving the pandemic

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Robinson says surviving the pandemic “is all about endurance right now.”

“It’s all about stamina right now.”

Both Robinson and O’Leary work a side job each to make up for the losses.

Vaccination passes are the easy part, Robinson said, along with screening people’s status and wearing masks — it’s all part and parcel of “Covid-era” hospitality.

O’Leary said that despite the challenges, the couple were confident they would emerge victorious.

“We are really looking forward to being able to boogie again with our friends of all kinds at festivals. Until then, we will continue to send out positive vibes and cook up some great food.”

The couple recently launched a website for their food truck: thefoxandbadgernz.com.