Question: What do you get when a lawyer and a firefighter join forces to open a Mexican restaurant? Answer: Locally made Mexican street food dishes with responsibly sourced ingredients, of course!
With seven locations across Melbourne and a new location in Bondi Beach in Sydney, Fonda has brought a fresh and modern take on Mexican cuisine to the foodie scene.
Fonda Mexican was the brainchild of co-founders and directors Tim McDonald and Dave Youl. According to Tim, the first spark of inspiration actually came from his time as an exchange student in the United States. “As an Australian, I only knew Mexican as ‘Taco Bill’ or ‘Montezuma’ [regional restaurant chains]. Living in the US opened my eyes to what the cuisine could be,” he explains.
Given the abundance of fresh food available in Australia, Tim felt sure that there was potential for local fare that was so much more than what he was familiar with. It was an idea that stuck. In 2011, Tim – no longer a student but a working lawyer – along with his good friend, Dave Youl (a professional fireman) set off on a research trip to Mexico.
In Mexico, a ‘fonda’ is a home that a family has opened to the local community, which serves simple and delicious food made with love. It is this concept that Tim and Dave work to embody in their restaurants.
For Fonda, being able to offer a higher welfare product is incredibly important. “It feels wrong and inhumane to put any animal under duress, stress or restrict their quality of life in any way,” says Tim. “There is also significant research that indicates a strong correlation between the quality and health of an animal’s life with the quality and nutritional value of the finished meat product.”
Interestingly, the team at Fonda have observed that it’s younger diners who care the most about whether their food has been humanely produced. “Generally speaking, the younger the diner, the higher the interest in where their food comes from and the ethics of the whole food growing and procurement process,” says Tim. “We find that if our staff are proud and informed of what we are serving up; our guests will be too.”
Tim encourages venues that are considering adding higher welfare food to their menu to take the leap. “Do what feels right before your guests start asking for it,” he says. “Customers trust brands that live by their own values.”
The RSPCA Choose Wisely initiative makes it easy to find venues putting humane food on the menu. Simply type your postcode into the search engine and you’ll be able to see which restaurants and cafes in your area are offering higher welfare options.