DAY TRIPPER

One of the Kapiti Coast’s best-kept se­crets is a 1964 Bed­ford bus and its Cor­don Bleu chef.

North & South - - In This Issue -

Kapiti Coast’s bus-based Cor­don Bleu chef.

If you ever find your­self in Te Hōro on a Fri­day, Satur­day or Sun­day between 9am and 4pm, here’s what you should do: point the car to­wards the beach and, just be­yond the rash of weather-beaten baches, veer right into Sims Rd un­til you come to a big blue Bed­ford bus. That’s where you’ll find Kirsty Green, who’ll of­fer you a de­cent cof­fee and a toasted sand­wich made from her own sour­dough bread and filled with gar­licky mush­rooms picked not too far from here, or one of her fa­mous brioche dough­nuts ( both, if you’re lucky).

This is the Bus Stop Cafe, a kitchen and seat­ing space shoe­horned into a 54-year- old bus. “People are sur­prised there’s a Le Cor­don Bleu-trained chef turn­ing out slices and pies in an old bus in the mid­dle of a pad­dock,” laughs Green. “But that’s part of the fun.”

It’s sec­ond-time lucky for the quirky cafe. In 2011, Green parked the stripped- out bus out­side her home in the Kapiti Coast town­ship and opened for busi­ness, but was forced to shut­ter it when neigh­bours took ex­cep­tion to the steady stream of hun­gry pa­trons.

A few years later, fate de­liv­ered a life­line when an elderly cus­tomer sold her a 10-acre life­style block in Te Hōro, and Green was able to re-

open the cafe last year. Not that she was sure the bus, which hadn’t been moved for six years, would make it to its new home. “I’d only driven her twice be­fore – once to Levin to get her reg­is­tered, and the sec­ond time to Paeroa to get the gas and wa­ter fit­ted,” she says. “But we filled her up with diesel, chucked in some new bat­ter­ies and she started first time.”

Green hasn’t needed to ad­ver­tise the fact she’s back in busi­ness: the pun­ters have sim­ply fol­lowed their noses, drawn by the aroma of freshly cooked Bakewell tarts and blue­berry lam­ing­tons. The menu, which changes weekly, also draws on Green’s more clas­si­cal culi­nary train­ing. The day I visit, it in­cludes porcini risotto cakes with mush­rooms, and potato rosti with gar­lic labne (a thick yo­ghurt cheese).

The in­te­rior of the bus is dec­o­rated with an eclec­tic ar­ray of colour­ful bunting and vin­tage knick-knacks that Green has col­lected over the years. A small shed next to the bus sells an equally di­verse range of goods, from Green’s pre­serves to ear­rings made by a local jew­eller.

The youngest of three, born in Michi­gan where her doc­tor fa­ther was com­plet­ing a res­i­dency, af­ter leav­ing school Green landed a job in a Welling­ton cafe. “I wasn’t aca­demic and I’ve al­ways cooked, so I nat­u­rally grav­i­tated to­wards that.”

Pre­fer­ring com­mu­nity-based cafes to ur­ban ones, she bought a deli/cafe in the Welling­ton sub­ur­ban of Karori, which she ran for a decade be­fore mov­ing to Te Hōro. She saw the 1964 Bed­ford ad­ver­tised on Trade Me.

“A guy in Taranaki had been run­ning her as a mo­bile cafe, so the bones of the kitchen were al­ready in place,” she says. “She was pretty shabby, though, so I got my HT li­cence and spent 18 months re­lin­ing, re­fit­ting and paint­ing her.”

Green reck­ons it’s pretty much as close to the per­fect life as she’s likely to get. “I pot­ter and bake for most of the week and then spend three days meet­ing and feed­ing people. What could be bet­ter?” SHARON STEPHEN­SON

Above: The Bus Stop Cafe has a colour­ful retro vibe and a menu wor­thy of Green’s Le Cor­don Bleu train­ing. “I pot­ter and bake for most of the week and then spend three days meet­ing and feed­ing people,” she says. “What could be bet­ter?”

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