August, 31 2013
Port Hedland
Bharat Sikka


I am 26 years old and have been living in Port Hedland for almost two years now. Back home on the east coast, they think the Pilbara is just red dirt, and dozens of big mining pits with dump trucks, but I always say, actually, there’s more to it.

I went to university in Melbourne and studied a Bachelor of Photography at RMIT. After finishing, I needed to get some money together so I moved to Tom Price for a year where I worked in recruitment. After Tom Price, I went back to Brisbane, spent a year there, and then got the travelling bug again and went off to India. I never thought I’d live back in the Pilbara but, in my last weeks of travelling, I got a call saying, can you come to Port Hedland and train some of our recruitment staff. I initially came for a six week contract and a year later, I’ve had two jobs and I’ve now have started a successful food business.

From a very young age I have lived and travelled the world and developed a passion for food and wine. After having an opportunity to hold a market stall at FORM's West End Markets I discovered a huge community demand for a variety of food. Soon after, my business, Las Patronas Mexicana was started. The name comes from a special short film that I saw at a Future Shorts Film Festival. It’s a story of a group of elderly women who, for the last 17 years, have spent their days making food for poor immigrants who travel North on the trains, looking for work and the opportunity to create a better life for themselves. I thought this was a really cool story of people working together, helping one another with community and friendship.

I have had a Mexican Taco Truck custom built in Sydney and a great team of designers from Solitare Creative, to create a brand that is fitting with the Cult Dining Experience that I want to create. This is a craze sweeping the US and UK, so I wanted to bring it to Port Hedland too. In the truck we have an iPad that allows customers to send orders straight to us as we'll as an iPhone app currently in production.

Having a business in an area that is so remote has its challenges, fresh produce is difficult so we are exploring alternatives in hydroponics and growing our own food. If this is successful we will know exactly where our food is sourced and what is going into it.

One of the advantages of living in a small town is the amazing support that I get from the community and even other restaurant owners. Everyone is so excited to have us in town and we are so happy to be here.

In the future we would like to have a permanent space; however the cost of renting a commercial space is outrageous. So for now, we will stay on wheels.

I have always been a city girl, however the space and pace really makes me appreciate the Pilbara, but the thing I love most is the opportunity that have been presented to me as an entrepreneur.

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