Entrepreneur Sami Repo has built his own food truck with a very personal touch, with a 400 kg barbecue oven as its centrepiece.
The inhabitants of Finland have a reputation for being the somewhat unconventional folk of northern Europe, with some unusual habits. Sauna championships and berry picking competitions are just some of the disciplines practised there with great commitment.
It is also in this part of northern Europe where Sami Repo built his own food truck, perfectly suited to the endless Finnish forests – partly thanks to the off-road capabilities of the Unimog U 318 serving as its base, but also because of the rustic ‘do it yourself’ body.
Repo had toyed with buying a Unimog U 20 around seven years ago. “It was purely for personal use, but I didn’t really have much of an idea as to what I was going to use the vehicle for,” he says.
He had lived in the USA for a while, where he came up with the idea of a foodtruck. “It was in Austin, which is like a Mecca for street food. I just had to do something like that.”
The body was tailor made to his specifications over the course of several months. “I drilled every single hole myself,” he says. “The truck was everything all rolled into one: a blueprint, test vehicle and even the finished product.”
The centrepiece is a 400 kg special barbecue oven from Spain, which is surrounded by a wash basin, gas stove, work surfaces, copper water boiler and various cooking utensils: “The Unimog is a truck for life!”
The link between the Finn and food isn’t plucked from thin air: Repo has spent many years as a photographer, specialising in food photography. He spends about half of the year in Helsinki, about four months in his small (more than a century-old) farmhouse in eastern Finland, with the occasional few weeks in the USA “for a change”.
The food truck is used for company events, birthday parties or public events. These also take place off-road and in the thick of the winter.
It’s possible that the mobile kitchen won’t be the only use Repo finds for the base vehicle, which impressed him with the “limitless opportunities” it offers. “I bought the U 318 with all hydraulic connections and many extras. At the moment, I’m dreaming about getting a crane for doing forestry work on my farm. I also need to build myself a motor home body at some point.”
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