The wheel deal: Brad McWhirter and Vanessa Hartnell pause for a photo during a busy opening night for their food truck business at Altitude Brewing recently


A Queenstown chef who’s worked in top kitchens here and overseas for more than 20 years
now has his own — in a food truck.

Brad McWhirter and his partner Vanessa Hartnell launched The Lab Kitchen NZ at the resort’s Altitude Brewing on February 12.

They’ll park there every second weekend, and between times move their five-metre trailer,
equipped with a custom-built industrial kitchen, to various neighbourhoods and event venues.

Their aim’s to deliver ‘‘high-quality, super-tasty, affordable food’’ — specialties include burgers, hand-cut chips and desserts.

They’ve also got an online ordering system, using social media and the Mr Yum website — that’ll help if we go up to Alert Level 3 again, McWhirter says.

‘‘It has always been a dream to own my own business and, being made redundant last year, it kind of got forced on me.’’

Hartnell adds: ‘‘There’s risk with any venture, no matter what time you open it, but I think
there’s so much opportunity out there right now.’’

She says there’s a nice synergy in pulling up at Eliott Menzies’ Altitude Brewing.

When she managed Queenstown’s former Dux de Lux bar, ‘‘Eliott used to bring in his home
brew, so we’ve sort of flipped roles — now I’m going to his brewery’’.