Sweet suc­cess for smoothie op­er­a­tor

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CHEREE PHILLIPS PHO­TO­GRAPHS JANE USSHER

Food and drink taste bet­ter when served from the side of a retro truck.

It’s a sci­en­tific fact – or at least it should be, ac­cord­ing to 27-year-old en­tre­pre­neur Matt Lock­wood.

The con­struc­tion worker by day has cre­ated a bur­geon­ing af­ter­hours busi­ness blitz­ing smooth­ies for Auck­land’s sum­mer crowds.

Lock­wood’s firm, The Bev­er­age Boy, ap­peals to nos­tal­gic Ki­wis who re­mem­ber scrab­bling around in the depths of the couch for coins as the notes of Greensleeves float down the street and the salty tang of hot chips smoth­ered in that spe­cial tomato sauce.

While the beauty of a good hot dog hasn’t faded, a new gen­er­a­tion of trucks is pop­ping up around the coun­try, serv­ing food with the same cheer but with a new health­con­scious twist.

Lock­wood watched the rise of the truck and no­ticed one thing: The sal­ads, bagels, tacos, gelato and sushi were mostly served with a stock-stan­dard soft drink.

His love of food sim­mered away and, de­spite work­ing 9am to 5pm in his day job, he had an idea for a de­serv­ing bev­er­age.

Smooth­ies came up dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with a friend and within a week (and with­out a busi­ness plan) a 1974 Bed­ford Cresta camper van had been pur­chased from el­derly own­ers in Mt Maun­ganui and was sit­ting on a side street in Grey Lynn.

As a child Lock­wood had dreamed of be­ing a pizza de­liv­ery boy. Now as The Bev­er­age Boy he cre­ates fresh, 100 per cent nat­u­ral smooth­ies and juices, serv­ing sum­mer crowds at events and beaches.

‘‘My dad has a join­ery com­pany in Palmer­ston North, so I de­cided to head down there for three weeks.

‘‘Five months later ... it was a long project. I looked back at my orig­i­nal bud­get re­cently and laughed – it was a bit silly.

‘‘I could have cut back, but I knew I would be spend­ing so much time in there that I wanted it to be right.

‘‘It’s prob­a­bly nicer than my kitchen at home.’’

With the truck sorted, next was learn­ing the art of mak­ing smooth­ies and juices.

‘‘I went out one week­end and pur­chased $200 worth of pro­duce. There was a lot of trial and er­ror, a few in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ments that ended with cur­dled milk and funny tex­tures, so I worked out the do’s and don’t’s.’’

The Bev­er­age Boy and his mint­green smoothie ma­chine made their de­but at the home­com­ing of Team New Zealand in Septem­ber 2013.

Although not the hap­pi­est of oc­ca­sions, at least the crowds had fresh, made-to-or­der smooth­ies in which to drown their sor­rows.

It’s the per­fect sum­mer job. Dur­ing week­ends be­tween De­cem­ber and March Lock­wood parks at se­lected events in Auck­land and fur­ther afield.

Fri­day nights mean Silo Park, where movies pro­jected on to the side of con­crete si­los pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment for thirsty crowds; Satur­days and Sun­days are a mix­ture of mar­kets, fes­ti­vals and pri­vate events.

His of­fice changes daily, the view of­fer­ing any­thing from beach-front par­adise to peo­ple-watch­ing at a food fes­ti­val.

Not that he has time to take it in; a nor­mal night sees about 300 smooth­ies and juices made from scratch.

‘‘The big­gest learn­ing curve for me was the amount of prepa­ra­tion and or­gan­i­sa­tion in­volved.

‘‘It takes about two days to get ready for a big event and half a day for Silo Park.

‘‘I have some­thing like 50 kilo­grams of ba­nanas to peel and slice and 100 kilo­grams of ap­ples to juice as well as var­i­ous other fruits. Hav­ing only one fridge and freezer means be­ing well pre­pared.’’

It’s a one-man show, from pur­chas­ing the in­gre­di­ents at Art of Pro­duce in Pon­sonby to prep­ping to blend­ing the drinks and clean­ing up.

‘‘I some­times have friends or fam­ily help­ing out but you can pay peo­ple with juice only for so long. My part­ner Steph has been amaz­ing; she’s the best nonem­ployee I’ve got.’’

With only one pair of hands and a line of wait­ing cus­tomers, it’s lucky that Lock­wood is used to speed.

The se­date pace of his cur­rent ride is a sur­prise to those who know him as a podium-plac­ing, na­tion­alti­tle-win­ning V8 Su­perTourer driver.

His suc­cess on the track led to an­other per­sonal victory: be­com­ing an am­bas­sador for Arthri­tis New Zealand, hav­ing lived with arthri­tis since he was eight. It doesn’t slow him down though; he can whip up a smoothie in 40 sec­onds.

It’s a nec­es­sary skill with fes­ti­vals such as Splore and Wan­der­lust re­quir­ing 18-hour days.

How­ever, with the truck giv­ing him the free­dom to ex­plore wher­ever the road may lead, it’s not ex­actly a chore.

‘‘It is hard work but it’s more a hobby than a job. It’s fun and it’s worth it.

‘‘There is a spe­cial cock­tail list for pri­vate events like birthdays and wed­dings. I’ve been find­ing that com­pa­nies are hir­ing us for the morn­ing af­ter as well – ap­par­ently a fresh smoothie or juice can ease the pain of the pre­vi­ous night.

‘‘To be classed as 100 per cent nat­u­ral we have to juice all the ap­ples then bot­tle and re­frig­er­ate the juice.

‘‘We can’t use any preser­va­tives, but we dis­cov­ered while do­ing re­search – Googling – that cin­na­mon is a nat­u­ral preser­va­tive and will make the juice last for about a week.

‘‘It tastes great too; ap­ple, gin­ger and car­rot with a hint of cin­na­mon is de­li­cious.’’

One-man show: It’s a one-man show, from pur­chas­ing the in­gre­di­ents at Art of Pro­duce in Pon­sonby to prep­ping to blend­ing the drinks and clean­ing up.

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