Last weekend’s London Motor Show at ExCel saw the first major unveiling of the world’s smallest mobile food truck, in the form of a converted Citroen 2CV car.
The brainchild of flamboyant chef, Andrew Mellon, it was Parry Stainless Steel Products which manufactured and installed the kitchen fabrications and equipment for the 2CV at 70 project, celebrating the car model’s 70th birthday.
The ‘Built in Britain 2CV’, christened Dolly, involved around 50 ‘Best of British’ partners. Mellon revealed to Catering Insight that his inspiration for the unusual build came when he saw the car in a local dealership. “I thought, ‘wouldn’t that be fun to turn it into a food truck?’” he said.
He worked with Tring-based stainless steel manufacturing specialist GEC Anderson to create the initial design, with MD Martin Tye designing the concept drawings.
Subsequently, Mellon contacted Parry, as he had worked with the Draycott manufacturer’s kit previously. MD Mark Banton recalled: “He came to our factory and saw the different fabrications we could provide. He saw our onsite bespoke bar showroom too and that really got him thinking about all sorts of unusual concepts.”
Of the catering equipment provision, he added: “When we saw the internal designs there were no practical features added, so we advised Andrew on what was possible, including making it gas safe and how to install an electrical supply.”
Parry’s involvement progressed quickly, as from first approach this February, it took just a couple of months to bring the catering equipment supply together, with the fabrications created over the space of just 2 weeks, ready for the beginning of May.
Banton detailed: “The thing about this project was there’s not a straight line on the car, but everything we put in there is straight and has 90 degree angles.”
Parry’s fabrication manager Jack Collister was in charge of creating the units for the conversion. He reported that ensuring the car could house everything took “a lot of spirit levels, time and height adjustments”.
He explained: “The car had to be virtually gutted so that we could build one area at a time. There are about four separate compartments which have been created as one. The most difficult part was making the opening as large as we could, which we were restricted with the shape of the car. A lot of the equipment is fairly standard to what we manufacture, we just adapted it for another purpose.”
The bespoke installation, all in fabricated stainless steel, includes a double sink with slide-in tap, from which Dolly produces her own hot water (to comply with health and safety standards), a set of four drawers to hold produce, with a pull-out work surface above, on which to prep food. A large drawer to the rear holds cooking equipment including an 1860 single fryer, a CHU single hob with a 3022 heated base, PGF800 gas griddle and an AG2H two ring gas burner.
A further drawer holds cooking utensils and condiments and there is even a cocktail stand which can sit at the rear of the units or, stand alone. Atop is a bespoke one-piece cover which sits over all the fabrication to provide a further stainless steel worktop.
Furthermore, a sous vide cooker was provided by Clifton Food Range, Ox Grills supplied a bespoke grill and charcoal oven unit, while Dometic manufactured a new compact fridge freezer which slides in underneath the car’s tailgate. 3M provided the holographic-style surface wraps for the car’s wheel arches.
Mellon said of the car: “She has everything, and Parry has been amazing. The build is just stunning. She is now around £35,000 retail-wise if you wanted to recreate her.”
The chef will now be touring Dolly around the country to promote minimising food waste, an ethos which was also taken into consideration for the catering equipment installed.
Mellon explained that Dolly will be cooking eggs during every meal, in homage to the 2CV’s original design requirement that the car should be able to drive eggs across a freshly ploughed field without breaking them. He added: “Because of the amount of kit that she has, we are able to custom-build menus for people. So if someone wants afternoon tea, the whole back of the car lifts out and we have a full Parry stainless steel bar.”
While Banton commented: “This project demonstrates what Parry is capable of. Often it’s not until we get people into our factory that they see the level of our processes and the quality.”
Collister then concluded: “Nothing’s really the limit for us. Anything is possible and anything with stainless steel we can manufacture.”