Q&A: Chantal and Clare of Oi! Taco

Q&A: Chantal and Clare of Oi! Taco

posted in: Blog | 0

Can you tell me a bit about yourselves?

We are both Brisbane locals. Northsiders who, coincidentally, went to the same high school (quite a few years apart) and share a similar twisted sense of humour and a possibly overboard love for the canine members of our families. Clare has an extensive background in Marketing and Event Management and Chantal is a practicing contemporary artist who’s always worked part-time in design consultancy, public art and business development.

When did you decide to go into business together and why?

Probably about five years ago now. We were both working at the same company and, completely uninspired by the roles we were in, we found ourselves fleshing out a business plan of our own. The idea offered an outlet to also focus on other projects rather than “working for the man”. The timing felt right for both of us to take the leap.

fullsizeoutput_1795

What’s the inspiration behind Oi! Taco?

With both of us having spent some significant time in the US (Clare lived in California for 15 years and Chantal often travelled there for family and work commitments) we shared a love of good, more traditional, Mexican food. Clare wanted to open a little ‘hole-in-the-wall’ taco joint for years after returning from living in the States. At the time there was a gap in the Brisbane landscape of good Mexican food, with only a couple of notable restaurants and dominance by a restaurant chain (which shall remain nameless) that we considered “not very Mexican” or good. Back then, we used to smuggle black beans back to Oz in our suitcase, so that’s how scarce the real stuff was.

fullsizeoutput_1794

Is there a story behind the name?

We were looking for something that represented both our being Australian and the food we wanted to serve. It also fits with us not taking ourselves too seriously.

A lot of customers and other food vans yell ‘Oi!’ when they see us.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date?

There are a few. Firstly, the Queensland heat.  It gets HOT in that van. Secondly, mobility. We get catering enquiries from Bundaberg to Ballina and although we are mobile, there are some logistical and wear-and-tear restrictions that we must take in to consideration before committing to events. Finally, learning how to reverse and manoeuvre our mobile kitchen “Lupe” is probably the biggest challenge. One of us is a pro and the other finds the struggle to be real.

fullsizeoutput_1797

What has given you the greatest sense of achievement so far?

Recently we had a reflective moment on the business that we’d built.  We decided to start a food van business with no customers, no van (or van-reversing experience – see above), and no real evidence that the style of food we’d offer would be embraced by the Brisbane population. Knowing everything about this business has come from us and taking a chance on ourselves is pretty rewarding. We’ve learnt that the image of two women owning and operating a mobile food business, which involves vehicular manoeuvring, attracts a level of opinion, assumption and prejudice. We are proud to say that we are among a group of successful female business owners, operating in a male dominated environment, who have made it work and built an asset.

fullsizeoutput_1796

What are your plans for Oi! Taco in the future?

Immediate plans might include some extra ventilation in the van.

Working a food van in a Queensland summer is not for the faint hearted.

We are also testing some new recipes for the New Year.

Are there any personal projects either of you are working on alongside Oi! Taco at the moment? If yes, can you tell me a bit about them?

As mentioned above, Chantal is a contemporary artist so is constantly working on projects locally and interstate. She just completed a project with Artbank in Sydney and will be featured in the upcoming exhibition ‘Collectibles V’ at Spiro Grace Art Rooms in Spring Hill. Clare is currently developing the digital marketing for one of Brisbane’s newest salons and is just about to launch the new website for her consultancy business.

Answers and Images by Chantal and Clare of Oi! Taco

Questions by Emma Kate Lewis

Leave a Reply