Chefs, farmers team up to open new restaurant
BYRON Bay's Rafael Camargo says launching a new restaurant is challenging enough, let alone during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he and the team from St Helena Farm have taken the plunge to open OCA - Organic Cuisine and Arts - in Byron Bay in the Industrial Estate (where Luscious Foods used to be).
"We realised we are meant to be here to help the community through this hard time," Mr Camargo said.
"It feels pretty good to be able to provide to the community with our food and we've been pretty busy considering we didn't have a grand opening.
"We are mostly from Brazil, so we are like a Brazilian storm coming to Byron to help change the way people interact with and receive their food."
He said OCA was a not-for-profit collaboration between local chefs and regenerative farmers bringing fresh farm-to-table food to the Byron community.
"As a community-owned business, there is no boss or employee, so we are all volunteering to get the restaurant going," he said.
"We have about eight volunteers running the restaurant.
"If we had to pay our staff we wouldn't be open right now.
"It's amazing - the power of community is so strong - that's how it should be."
While the team were concerned about opening amid COVID-10 pandemic, Mr Camargo said they were "taking all the precautions in terms of the law and people were responding really well".
The team also offer weekly seasonal veggie-box straight from the syntropic farm and local organic suppliers, which can be ordered on the website.
With Eastern, Mediterranean and South American flavours forming a big part of the menu, there's delicious cassava dishes and crepes on offer as well as wood-fired pizzas, Sabih pide and slow-cooked Brazilian feijoada stew.
There's also Herbal infuse elixers, acai bowls and smoothies available.
Mr Camargo explained the in-house speciality, cassava was a healthy root vegetable, which was a "clean, gluten-free" carbohydrate.
"We invite everyone to come together and act as collective during this time," he said.
"Come and feel the love and be part of OCA and support us, but mostly come and taste our food. We are artisan, woodfired and ethical food."
Find OCA at 1/6 Tasman Way, Byron Bay from 7am to 2pm (Mon-Fri) and 5 to 8pm (Tue and Fri) for takeaways only.
Orders can also be made online at www.ocacuisine.com/order-now or call 02 66808228.