Chef Cody Barter has worked in restaurants around the world – in London, Portugal and France – and across Australia. During 2021 he found himself running the kitchen at a Charlotte Pass ski chalet when COVID-19 restrictions hit.
“We were locked down on the mountain for four weeks and that was the final straw!” he told Region Media.
“I was sick of working for everyone else in such an uncertain environment. So we thought the solution to try and beat COVID was to start our own little food truck so we could just pop up when and where we could.”
Cody grew up on the South Coast, so opening food truck Mr Salubrious was an opportunity for him to move from the snow back to the surf. Based in Tomakin, Mr Salubrious now pops up regularly around Malua Bay, Broulee and Marouya. Cody also caters private functions and special events, and will occasionally park at local craft breweries.
The name for the truck was inspired by a colourful character who Cody befriended a few years ago.
“He was a real old-school surfer,” Cody said. ”He was one of those guys that back in the ’60s and ’70s went over to Indonesia to open up new surf breaks.
“And for some reason salubrious was his favourite word and he’d use it in every sentence. We got to know him and he’d be like, ‘Gee, guys, it’s a salubrious day!’ or ‘I’m off to salubrify the town!’, which was pretty comical.”
So of course his nickname became ”Mr Salubrious”, and Cody felt it would be a fitting name for the new food truck business.
The menu at Mr Salubrious has a strong focus on Mexican street food, with the team describing themselves as ”neighbourhood taco slingers”.
“I always had a passion for South America and Latin food. I was the head chef at The Elk and Pea in Canberra for a few years and that’s where I got my passion for Mexican, Peruvian and Chilean street food,” Cody said.
The tacos are heaped with fresh ingredients and garnished with herbs, making them look generous and wholesome. But the menu doesn’t stop there, with all sorts of cuisines likely to make an appearance. Cody’s international travels have led him to an appreciation of a wide range of street food, so occasionally there are also dumplings, Japanese snacks such as edamame beans, or a selection of ”curries of the world” on the menu. Customers can also grab cold-pressed juices and coffee.
Cody’s favourite menu item is the pumpkin tacos: chunks of honey-roasted butternut pumpkin, beer battered and fried, served on fresh rocket with toasted pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, honey mustard dressing and a fresh radish, shallot and coriander salad to garnish.
He says it’s become an unlikely hit, with “burly dudes” often preferring the vegetarian dish to the meat options once they’ve given it a try.
“It is a little bit unorthodox … it’s not really Mexican but it’s one of our best sellers!”
Good food in the fresh air on the beautiful South Coast: sounds pretty bloody salubrious.