Harold Fleming, owner, The Bun Mobile
It’s been fun to see how our little truck has created such a big movement across the city.
The past ten years has seen much change in Brisbane and whilst it may just seem to happen it is passionate individuals who are creating this change. A few years back before Food Trucks were all the rage, Harold Fleming came up wth the idea to bring the Food Truck revolution to Brisbane. Having spent much of his career as a chef creating some of Brisbane’s finest eating establishments – Harold’s Purveyors of Find Foods at Clayfield, Harold’s Posh Café at Spring Hill and Harry’s Diner at Windsor – it was time for a change. Harold was always been one to think outside the square and keen for new challenges. His chef stepson, Daniel, read an article in an Inflight magazine about a new generation of food trucks hitting the streets in cities across the US. At that time, there were several in Sydney and Melbourne but none in Brisbane. So, after lots of research, he came to the conclusion that a food truck specialising in a unique type of product, would be particularly well-suited to Queensland’s outdoor lifestyle. He decided to offer Brisbane something new and exciting in the form of a gua bao, a traditional Taiwanese steamed bun. The Bun Mobile was born! Harold Fleming changed Brisbane’s food landscape forever!
Owning and operating a food truck such as The Bun Mobile gives me the opportunity to take my cuisine to my customers and followers, and lets me meet new people in different locations. Our customers love to see what’s going on in the truck, and from a chef’s perspective, I enjoy the one on one interaction. I was attracted to owning a food truck because I wanted to run a flexible business and bring something new to Brisbane. A true gourmet food truck offers customers something that’s fast, inexpensive and delicious. As a chef, I certainly pride myself on offering something different and love pushing the boundaries with our food.
Name a food truck you would love to eat at but haven’t yet?
El Olomega – a Salvadoran truck in NYC.
The food industry in Brisbane is constantly changing. What’s your opinion on all the change in the industry?
Brisbane has some excellent chef owner operated high end restaurants, bistros and cafes, offering interesting and innovative food. But in recent years, there has been a shift to more casual eating. As a result, the food truck industry has grown to support this demand. I feel that the industry in Brisbane seems to pick up on a particular fad and then everybody flogs it to death. There doesn’t seem to be too much innovation and thought put into setting up new businesses. Just follow the leader.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
I dream a lot! Of course, my customers are a constant inspiration. They often come up with some quirky menu suggestions which I love to put my twist on. But I get most of my inspiration out of travelling with my beautiful wife Christine, to some out of the way places around the world and researching the cuisines of many cultures.
Then and now? We had so many challenges back in the beginning, it’s hard to know where to start! Educating the people of Brisbane was one of them. We had a massive job changing their existing perceptions of a food truck. As we were the first gourmet food truck here, and one of the first in Australia, many people had the belief that a food truck served greasy unhealthy food at building sites. So, I had a big job ahead of me changing their way of thinking and their eating habits. So we decided to use social media to build our business and filmed a series of You Tube videos with the help of the guys from Surge Media to get the ball rolling. Now? Cost to attend events as a vendor can be huge. Some event organisers need to realise that food trucks and trailers are small businesses run by families – not large corporations, and as such, the fees changed to attend events should be reasonable.
What occupation would you love to do, if you were not running The Bun Mobile?
I love animals and always wanted to be a vet. Of course that didn’t happen – I was too dumb to go to uni!
In your opinion what makes a community?
When The Bun Mobile pulls up at our locations across Brisbane most nights of the week, we gather a wonderful food eating community around us. However, my idea of community is all about shared values, diversity, trust, honesty and the willingness to help our neighbours.
We consider you a changemaker for our city, as you have helped define and shape Brisbane’s food truck movement. Do you think you have created change in Brisbane?
Definitely! It’s been fun to see how our little truck has created such a big movement across the city.
Who would you recommend as a changemaker in Brisbane?
Deb Kilroy from Sisters Inside. She, along with her team, advocate for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system. She makes a difference where it counts.
What is your hope for the future of Brisbane?
Remember our past; keep diversifying; make our city safer.
What’s a question you would love to be asked in an interview and what is your answer?
Q: What would you say to a couple of hot laps around Bathurst with Craig Lowndes? A: You bet! Warm up the tyres Lowndsie …