Together with his family, chef Bill Moragiannis would travel up to two hours to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill just for their delicious loukoumades, often taking the risk that they would miss out on the last serve or find the stall closed.
But as Oscar Wilde once said, “life imitates art” and this was the case for Moragiannis after watching the American comedy drama, Chef.
That film follows the story of Casper (played by John Favreau) who decides to leave his job at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant to start his own food truck.
This idea, together with the motivation from his wife, provided the inspiration Moragiannis needed to start the ball rolling on Honey Dee Loukoumades.
“I thought if I would drive two hours, I’m sure there are others that would,” says Moragiannis, and boy, was he right.
Having perfected the recipe for his light and fluffy loukoumades, the family-run business has now been operating for two years catering events and doing the market and event circuit across Melbourne and wider Victoria from Torquay to the Dandenongs, and Bendigo to the inner city with a marquee set-up.
As the name suggests, Honey Dee specialises in Greek doughnuts with flavours including the traditional honey, cinnamon and walnut, Nutella for chocolate lovers, and the ever popular salted caramel with Murray River pink salt. To keep himself stimulated and customers happy, each week he comes up with a special flavour created to suit a particular event.
“One of the first questions clients ask is, ‘we have an event coming up with an Asian theme, what flavour can you do?’ It’s always about what can we create and we’re adapting where we can,” he says.
“I go past the market and come across flavours and think okay next time we’re doing this one. For the Firelight Festival for example we had espresso martini, at a kids’ event we had rocky road and popping candy, and for the Food and Wine Festival we had pina colada, so we’re always changing to suit.”
One combination that was a memorable hit with customers at the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival was fig and vanilla mascarpone served with walnuts, made particularly flavoursome thanks to the home-grown figs.
Having established a following, Moragiannis, who works as an educator full-time, continued to have his sights set on his own truck and being Melbourne-born and bred says he didn’t want to have any old food truck.
“I wanted something very Melbourne and because we’re different we wanted to stand out,” he says, and he has hit the nail on the head. It doesn’t get more Melbourne that the Honey Dee Loukoumades food truck – or food ‘tram’, to be more precise.
Moragiannis set out to find someone who could come through on his design aesthetic, which he admits wasn’t easy, but perseverance paid off and since May the food tram has had heads turning.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he says. “We’ve had three different film crews come to film it and besides people wanting us in the background for wedding photos or wanting us to cater a wedding, it’s a good photographic shot as well.”
To compliment his loukoumades, with the launch of the tram he has also introduced traditional Greek frappe available in sketo, glyko or metrio just like in Greece.
While Moragiannis is happy to have his food tram on the road, he admits to having new ideas in the pipeline with plans for pop-up shop locations across Melbourne, so stay tuned.