Meet South American Street Food Truck, Kumache
In October 2021 Paola Velasco & Jose Sanchez decided the time was right, or completely wrong, to launch their foodie passion project. As Covid lingered, so too did their dream of launching a Venezuelan food truck business, called Kumache.
Leaving their beloved Venezuela behind in 2015, Paola and Jose moved to Melbourne, before relocating to Brisbane where they settled in and Jose began studying as a chef,
“The weather was also similar to Venezuela [Paola laughs]’.
For the next five years Paola and Jose remained in Brisbane loving every minute, but following the initial hit of Covid they both began to question their careers and future. With Jose’s best friend living in Newcastle it took little convincing for the couple to head south and the dream of opening their own business became a possibility.
“Kumache is something we had wanted to do for so long. Moving to Newcastle was our chance for a new experience, new jobs, and the time felt right so we took the risk, and it’s been working so far.” explains Paola.
An industrial designer by trade, Paola continues to work part time, however her passion along with Jose is Kumache.
So what is Kumache? and what can you expect when you visit the bright yellow food truck at the Newcastle or Glendale Farmers Markets, or for Sydneysiders the monthly Vegan Markets at Sydney Olympic Park, Paola explains,
“Kumache is a hot sauce we tried in the Venezuelan Amazon. We did a 10 day hike and climbed up Mount Roraima with the regional people, and they served us Kumache with every meal."
“It is a hot sauce but it’s not a hot that burns your month, it actually gives flavour to all of the other ingredients, and then disappears.”
“Kumache refers to the preparation and fermentation process of the raw cassava from which it is made. In its raw form it contains naturally occurring forms of cyanide, which are toxic to eat. The fermentation process allows it to be edible and used as a hot sauce, it was a flavour we had never tried before.
“This experience had us feeling so connected with the people, with the food, with Kumache that we said if we have a business one day we would have to name it Kumache.”
Are you creating a Kumache sauce of your own?
“We aren’t making Kumache, we have our own hot sauce, and we plan on doing our own version of Kumache. We don’t know the process of converting cassava into something edible, that’s something that’s been passed down from previous ancestors and it’s a receipe that stays with them. We just felt privileged that we could get to know more about our culture, see how they eat and lived, their day to day life. The Amazon experience made a big impact on us, and left us feeling very connected with that community, and this is our way of honoring our culture.”
Can you take us through what we can expect from the Kumache menu?
“We became vegans around 5 to 6 years ago, and we were eating regular delicious vegan food but we were missing the flavours from back home, which got us thinking, how can we not use meat but still create those same flavours? So we started testing, it was a lot of trial and error.
“Coming from a heavy meat culture it was important we kept the flavours and the nutritional value, which we’ve managed to do which is really exciting.”
“We don’t advertise the menu as being vegan and customers who don’t usually eat vegan are shocked. We quite often have customers asking for beef nachos, and are skeptical but love our version when they try it.”
In addition to the nachos Kumache have two other tasty meals to choose from, the Criollo Bowl and the traditional Venezuelan Arepa, a staple back home as Paola explains,
“In Venezuela we eat Arepas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even when we are hung over [laughs].”
Once you’ve chosen your base, select your filling, that being either the Con Pollo and its flame grilled marinated seitan, sauerkraut, corn salsa and chipotle aioli (for the chicken lovers), or the Con Cerdo which is a combo of slow cooked banana blossom, pickled onion and crunch slaw (this one’s for the meat heads). There’s also the Vegetariana with its slow cooked black beans, roasted sweet potato, almond queso (the cheese alternative) and green sauce.
What’s the green sauce you ask? Better known as Wasakaka or Guasacaca in Venezuela, it’s typically eaten with chicken dishes with the zesty sauce containing avocado, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, parsley and bell pepper.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to dine for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Kumache’s flavoursome menu caters to all hours of the day, and if nothing else makes for a delightful outing with Jose and Paola more than happy to chat about their beloved Venezuela, and the story of Kumache.