It’s been nine months since Rebecca Chippington and Frank Meura closed their Surry Hills vegetarian pop-up, Naked Indiana, a break that brought about reflection on the next steps for their business. After touring Australia visiting farmers and producers, their new cafe and deli, Little Indi, aims to support those local suppliers in a direct, considered way.
“What we’re really trying to show is an insight into the opportunity we have in Australia to make the most of our produce, land and environment,” says chef Chippington. For she and Meura, having direct contact with suppliers is key to their ethos. “I don’t like selling something that I don’t completely understand. For us, this is not just a business, it really is a lifestyle.”
Little Indi’s breakfast and lunch menus are designed to take away, packed with wholesome vegetarian dishes that use seasonally rotating produce. Ingredients are organic wherever possible and there’s plenty in the way of vegan, gluten-free and raw options, like beetroot, asparagus and walnut gazpacho or charred fennel salad with blood orange, lentils and kalamata olives. “We choose all our own suppliers. If we can’t get something in Australia, we just don’t use it,” Chippington says.
Acting as a retailer lends further support to their suppliers, often small-scale producers who in some cases are close to shutting down. “Our olive oil comes from Sveti in Victoria, who’s 68 and picks by himself. We pressed the oil with him and went through the whole process,” says Chippington. As well as Sveti’s stone-milled oil, visitors can pick up items like naturally fermented Blue Mountains miso paste and free range, pasture fed eggs from Orange.
Nestled inside the loading dock of Alexandria's The Hardware Store, Meura completed the cafe’s fit-out himself and ensures any waste is used wisely. The on-site anaerobic composter creates a closed loop system, where organic scraps are converted and returned to the courtyard’s planter boxes – made from coffee bean sacks, no less – plus their plant-based packaging is biodegradable. “We’ll commit our lives to this,” Chippington says of their sustainable approach to hospitality. “More than anything, we really want people to engage with their food and their company.”
50 McCauley Street, Alexandria