Matt Whalley, market operator

Street food speaks for itself – these guys are chefs and cooks, creating food they are passionate about, serving and interacting with their customers.

If you’re a Gold Coaster, chances are you’ve been to one of Matt Whalley’s events, perhaps rocked out in front of one of the stages he built, or eaten food from one of the many food trucks that he helped get off the ground. Matt is one half of The Design Collective, a small business that is doing big things by bringing everything from food truck parties to vintage markets to all corners of the Gold Coast. Matt and his partner Kat are the faces behind some of the city’s most popular events, yet it’s with humble attitudes that you’ll see them both willingly sitting in the crowd soaking up the vibe that they work so hard to create. Matt is a passionate guy, with a refreshing take on life and business – and it’s that modest, no-nonsense approach that has got this dynamic duo so far in the bustling world of street markets. We had a chat to Matt about the Gold Coast food truck game, working with mates, and classic cars.

Tell us how The Design Collective first came about?
Kat had been organising small markets and events when we met, then together we saw a need for chilled out relaxed events on the Gold Coast … so we went head first into The Design Collective and its gathered momentum ever since! We keep out-growing spaces, but that’s a sign of success!

What were you doing before your got into the food truck, markets and events business?
I built high performance race and rally cars, and managed a rally team that toured and won the Asia Pacific Cup. I am a qualified mechanic and steel fabricator.

What was your (very) first job?
An apprentice mechanic at age 15 in Tingalpa.

What’s the most challenging part of what you do? And what’s the most rewarding?
The most challenging part is the physical exertion, we’re only a are a two person team. We bring all the chairs and tables, all the bins and of course our live music stage. It’s a monster set up but its becoming easier with practice. The most rewarding part is the people we have befriended. All the foodies and market stall holders are our mates now. What could be better than working with your mates!

The concept of food and fashion markets has grown exponentially over the past few years – what do you think it is that has made this concept so popular, particularly on the Gold Coast?
People love the freedom of not being confined too a shopping centre, as well as buying one-off pieces from the people who make them. Street food speaks for itself – these guys are chefs and cooks, creating food they are passionate about, serving and interacting with their customers. The big thing about street food parties is there is no restricted menu … ten friends can come to one place and each get something they want, sit together and relax to some of the best music in Australia.

How do you (well, both of you) stay inspired and keep your ideas fresh?
Kat is the visionary! She is always thinking of new ideas and finding awesome locations to host these events, so all credit to her astounding brain! I have a ‘can do’ attitude, and with my mechanics background I end up fixing all the food trucks, stall holders cars and building equipment to make our events stand out from the rest. We are currently building a vintage caravan that will be a travelling bar!

If you were to take a visitor on a tour of the Gold Coast, where would stop?
Jump in our car and drive anywhere from Talle to Cooly! That’s the best stretch of community anywhere in Australia.

What’s your idea of complete happiness?
To be able to combine all our passions in a location that we can continue to expose this bustling culture of food, music and small businesses … as well as a big shed to house our classic car obsession!

There’s always something exciting brewing with you guys, so tell us, what’s next?
We’re working with The Sunland Corporation at the moment to start a regular food truck alley in the heart of the Gold Coast. We’re still working on heaps of pop-up arvos and nights with Palmy Sunday Funday and the Miami Tavern’s Shark Bar rooftop.


Perk up … Wood Box Café in West Burleigh
Relax … Laguna Park in Palm Beach
Dine … Food trucks, where ever they are!
Be inspired … Driving out to Currumbin Rock Pools and back … natural living in our backyard.


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