A 16-DAY 600 kilometre run from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie along the CY O’Connor pipeline is not what most people would expect from a humble food and coffee van.
But the Nourish Food & Coffee van and events catering service is anything but ordinary.
About to celebrate its third birthday on Australia Day, the Nourish Food & Coffee van and events catering service is owned and operated by Scott and Judy Hambley and Judy’s sister Kathryn Buttfield.
They live on a 135 hectare Keysbrook property, along with Judy and Kathryn’s mother Jan Buttfield, and grow some of the vegetables and fruits that go into the fresh foods, jams and other preserves they sell from the van.
Judy and Kathryn also share a love of horses, particularly Welsh Mountain Ponies which they breed and have proudly shown.
They run the Judaroo Welsh Mountain Pony stud, started by their mother and father, David Buttfield, in the early 1970s at the Keysbrook property.
Kathryn also runs a flock of between 20 and 30 Dorper ewes which provides the main ingredient for home-grown lamb sausage rolls, lamb burgers and lamb kofta salad sold from the van.
In fact, everything sold from the van – it is fitted out as a commercial kitchen in its own right and powered by a portable generator – is home-made and wholesome.
The trio sources as many of the fresh ingredients as they can - if they do not grow it themselves - from local fruit and vegetable growers and other suppliers in their area.
Scott is an architect by trade who undertakes project management challenges and Kathryn works for a local mining company, so their involvement with the Nourish Food & Coffee van and its events catering offshoot is technically part-time, although it often does not seem that way.
Both Scott and Kathryn are trained barristers.
Judy is the full-time main chef, helped in the food preparation and cooking by her sister, and whoever is available on the day helps man the van at whatever event they are catering for.
Both Judy and Kathryn have previously worked in the hospitality industry – Judy has quite extensive experience, Scott said.
“I cook, but probably not to the standard required for the van, so I sometimes cook evening meals for the girls so they can have a break from cooking for the van,” he said.
Their partnership is called Lifestyle Balance WA and trades as Nourish Food & Coffee.
“The Lifestyle Balance name was chosen to remind us of what the aim is supposed to be,” Scott said.
“There’s a lot of work goes into it (planning and preparing food for the van) but after three years we still enjoy it and meeting people – but these days we probably pick and choose what events we attend more carefully than we used to,” he said.
The trio originally considered going into a restaurant together but, in the interests of lifestyle balance, ultimately settled on downsizing the home-grown concept to a van and they have not regretted that decision.
Scott’s technical skills came to the fore in selecting a van and designing the layout.
They chose a Fiat Ducato because it offered an extra 10.6 centimetres of internal width over comparable vans, according to Scott an important consideration when trying to squeeze a full commercial kitchen in the back.
A company that builds motorhomes in Welshpool fitted it out to their design and it all works well – there is nothing they would change if they did it over again, Scott said.
They regularly attend country markets like their locals at Keysbrook and Jarrahdale in the van, as well as fairs, community events and sporting events as far afield as Busselton.
“We do a lot of work with the local shire and a mining company here and we cater for private functions – we catered for a wedding the weekend recently,” Scott said.
They provided food and refreshment for runners and spectators at the Trail Running Truth or Consequence event at Jarradale in August and they have been at dog shows at the DogsWest grounds in Southern River.
As ‘horse people’ – Scott admits he was not initially a “horse person” but with some urging from wife and sister-in-law has become one - equestrian events feature prominently in the van’s schedule.
They include everything from relaxed local pony club days to Equestrian WA accredited championships at the Serpentine Horse and Pony Club grounds or at Murray Eventing.
But for the trio and their Nourish Food & Coffee van Friday is the most important day of the week.
On Friday mornings they pull up in the van at a little park beside the South Western Highway in Keysbrook – not so much for the passing trade, but for local residents.
“It’s a social occasion where the locals come for a coffee and a snack and a bit of a chat to find out what’s been happening,” Scott said.
“We don’t do it for ourselves so much, but for the local people, they don’t have shops or places here where they can buy coffees and a meal, so it’s a chance for them to do that and catch up with friends at the same time.”
Judging by comments on the Nourish Food & Coffee van Facebook page, Keysbrook residents look forward to Friday morning as much as Judy, Kathryn and Scott.
Their lamb sausage rolls, vanilla slices, strawberry and mulberry jams and zucchini relish come highly recommended by Keysbrook locals and travellers.
There is also usually a range of fresh home-made muffins, cup cakes, mini biscuits, Anzac biscuits, sometimes fresh-baked scones to go with the jams, fresh fruit salads, orange marmalade and beetroot and onion relish on offer.
Hot beverages and chilled drinks remain a van constant, but the rest of what the van has to offer is largely determined by what fresh produce is available, what fruits are in season, what a client requests if catering for a private function or what recipe Judy and Kathryn decide to try.
In September and October the trio and their Nourish Food & Coffee Van – with a camper trailer as accommodation towed behind it – took on their biggest catering challenge yet.
They catered for eight riders and their support crews – that was breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and evening meal for 25 people every day – on a 16-day horse trek along the CY O’Connor pipeline to Kalgoorlie.
Scott said the ride was the idea of a friend who was turning 50.
“He had all these different things he wanted to achieve by his 50th birthday and a ride along the pipeline to Kalgoorlie with some other horse rider friends was one of those aims and he asked us to come along and cater,” he said.
“We had a lot of fun along the way and we made it (to Kalgoorlie) in time for the Race Round (the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club’s annual week-long spring horse racing carnival with the Gold Kalgoorlie Cup as its feature event).
“But it was certainly a logistics challenge catering for 25 people over 16 days on the move.
“We could buy some perishables like milk along the way, but most of the food we had to take with us.
“Our biggest challenge was finding enough space to pack it all into the fridges and freezers.
“Then we lost our water tank (under the van) and had to hook up a jury rig to get water from the camper trailer to the van for part of the trip.
“We only had one day off, in Merredin, along the way.
“It was an adventure alright.”
Now it’s back to a regular schedule of Friday mornings in Keysbrook for the Nourish Food & Coffee Van and its crew until the next adventure comes along.