The owner of that capricious little flyer was 24-year-old Pippa Cunningham, who was dropping off a copy to her friend at a neighbouring bike shop. She was showing him her new business, Hello Aubergine, a vegetarian bicycle delivery service that delivers once a week in the Fitzroy and Collingwood area.
The idea came to her, fittingly, by delivery. While in India last year for an internship, she found herself enamoured by the sights, smells and tastes of the street food. But more than anything, she was taken with the convenience. Lunch was delivered to her work every day in the form of a ‘tiffin’ – a triple-decker metal lunchbox that holds curry, rice and bread. The other thing she started to notice and admire was the friendly bond that began to develop from the simple daily ritual.
It wasn’t until she found herself without a job in Melbourne that Cunningham really started mulling over the idea. Inspired by the flexibility, mobility and growing popularity of Melbourne’s food trucks and pop-up cafes, Cunningham decided to see if she could find her place within the city’s take on street food culture. Without a proper kitchen to use at home, she started using the kitchen at Roller Door after hours to prep the orders.
Designing the weekly menu, preparing the food and delivering the orders singlehandedly, Cunningham is starting small, usually offering a sandwich or a salad option, and all vegetarian.
Only a few weeks in, Cunningham is proving to be bursting with culinary creativity, with some of her successes including maple marinated tempeh baguettes, black bean burgers with avocado and mango salsa, and coconut rice salad with lychee, cashews, mint and coriander.
“I think it’s good to have imagination when it comes to vegetarian food,” says Cunningham, explaining that in so many restaurants it’s really just an “afterthought”.
Although she emphasises that she doesn’t have an issue with “meat-eaters”, she does think it would be good if everyone ate a little bit less meat, even if it’s only one meal a week.
Conscious of seasonality and reducing waste where possible, she chooses her fresh ingredients based on the whimsy of the markets that week, preferring to pick out whatever is in abundance and make it up from there. “That’s a fun way to cook,” Cunningham says. “To get a new vegetable and be like, ‘I have no idea what this is! How am I going to use it?’”
And the name, Hello Aubergine? It comes from a chapter in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty called The Mighty Aubergine.
“Eggplant is one of my favourite vegies – well, it’s a fruit – because it’s a really good replacement for meat. It’s so hearty and delicious,” she says. “And I like the idea of the ‘mighty aubergine’, so I was like, ‘hello aubergine!’”
Hello Aubergine delivers vegetarian lunches in the Fitzroy and Collingwood area on Thursdays. Lunch orders must be placed by 10am on Wednesdays.
0432 607 559