Ugandan born Dennis Grace has started Australia’s one and only mobile food truck, serving delicious pan-African street foods in the festivals and streets of Melbourne.
Dennis claims the Afrofeast Food Truck is all about redefining African cuisine for food-savvy Melbournians, serving the tastiest African street foods with names like the Ugandan Rolex and the South African Bunny Chow. And it’s all done with the spirit of urban Africa: fresh, vibrant and dynamic, using organic, ethically-sourced products wherever possible.
The food truck operates in streets, markets, festivals and at private and corporate events. Dennis also offers food truck consulting, saving valuable time and money for new entrants to the industry to launch their products and services.
We spoke with Dennis about his business and his background. He migrated to Australia in 2011 armed with a Masters degree and ambitions to make his way in the corporate sector, but says Dennis with a chuckle, “Like most migrants I found it difficult settling in. I couldn’t get a job with Bunnings or even as a sweeper with Maccas, I found it hard when I was questioned about my degree. People thought ‘You have a Master’s degree and you want to sell in a shop – why don’t you go out and look for a decent job”.
Three years into his stay, he decided to start his own business. “I saw an opening for the type of food service I wanted to offer, and picked the name Afrofeast because it reflects the kind of service I wanted to provide to my customers. I want to give people a different experience that has never been here before and also promote African culture and identity,” he said.
“I’m not a trained chef,” Dennis admits, “I started cooking at an early age. Growing up with my mum and nine siblings in a small house meant everybody was expected to cook. By the time I turned seven, mum used to say ‘Oh Dennis is a very good cook.”
His food is mainly influenced by South and East African cuisine and a wide variety is on offer. The most sought after are Boerewore sausages and Bunny Chow- which is a hollowed out loaf of bread, filled with lamb curry.
Dennis is humbled and grateful to all the Melbournians including the African Australian community who have kept coming back for more of the food he has to offer. He has also won some media attention and slowly but surely his business is building.
For now Afrofeast is a small business barely making enough profit to live on, but Dennis is optimistic and even has plans to establish outlets in the other states.
SALT Magazine found his enthusiasm infectious and we are sure he can realise his dreams. At the same time we admire his outlook on life and his commitment to “….experience the happiness that comes from building a business from the ground up.”
MAIN PHOTO: Damien Pleming