INTERVIEW: CLARE THOMPSON

CHOMP LIFE was founded in 2012 as a service committed to delivering locally-sourced, fresh and healthy lunches to Sydneysiders. We caught up with Clare Thompson to discuss her inspirations, must-have ingredients, and what's next for CHOMP.

1f4c4b1 beet salad in box Chomp choc n berry nibble board fruity board Pumpkin, pear, proscuitto salad

Most importantly, what did you have for breakfast/lunch today?

My days kick off around 6.00am and it is all systems go so not much time for brekky but today I managed avo on toast and a cup of hot water and lemon. Lunch is always a tasty medly of Chomp leftovers so pan fried chicken schnitzel and coleslaw - yum

We love Chomp, how did you start Chomp Life?

I was working in Paddington and was bored of the limited, fresh and healthy and of course delicious lunch time options. I resented having to waste my lunch hour queuing up for the same old thing every day.

I have always been a huge foodie and a fan of simple, fresh and convenient food,so decided to do something about it. After doing some trials to local offices over xmas and seeing the demand for a lunch delivery service focused on providing quality food, we knew we were onto something so I quit my job in PR 4x months ago to make the Chomp dream a reality.

How did you come up with the concept of Chomp and why?

Being a Brit in Sydney for over seven years, I missed the huge choice of pre packaged sandwiches and salads that were readily available without having to queue up and wait, so I decided to change the model slightly and make it work for the Sydney market. The UK is not on the map for it's food but it does make a bloody good sandwich and Australia has amazing produce and great local suppliers, so really it was always about "when" we were going to launch....not "if"!

I knew this concept could work here as long as we didn't expect it to happen over night and we create a service people begin to love and trust and speak out.  Sydney is so much more spread out than London so I knew we needed to take the food to the customer as there are so many areas where people like you and I work out of the city that lack any good food options that are quick. People deserve to enjoy there lunch break without having to go and queue, so we do that part for them leaving more time to enjoy your valued time away from the desk!

What are your top 3 key ingredients you love to use?

I am obsessed with chili and especially chipotle, I love using cumin to spice up salads and veggies and then there is mustard, love it, the hotter the better and great in stews etc....basically anything strong!

How often does the menu change?

At this stage as we are still small and growing we are 2x options a week of a salad or a sandwich, this ensures we are always seasonal and we are made to order so minimal wastage and we always have a veggie option and can cater for GF/ Dairy Free and Vegan. As we grow, so will the menu but it will never be huge as I like to keep things simple.

Where are your ingredients sourced? We try and keep things as local as possible, our butcher sources our free range meat from the Hunter Valley and NSW, our very kind fruit and veggie man delivers to us a couple of times a week direct from the Sydney Markets - he adds us onto the bigger restaurant orders which is so kind!

What ingredient can you possibly not cook without?

I have to say again the almighty chili, my poor boyfriend has had to grow to love the humble chili! Lemons add a zesty freshness to sweet and savoury dishes Herbs - we have a herb garden packed full of basil,rosemary, parsley, a meal isnt complete without some chooped herbs

What is the most popular item on the menu?

Sydney is loving our free range chicken options. The chicken, chorizo with chipotle mayo sold out, as did this week's schnitzel! If there is one thing you do, ALWAYS buy locally sourced free range chicken from the butcher, not the supermarket as free range is a loose term but don't get me started on that!

Being in Sydney now in winter, what are the top winter warmers?

On cooler nights nothing beats a slow cooked beef and bean stew with veggies and mash and a glass of red OR a thai inspired tom yum soup packed full of nourishing goodness using garlic, ginger and chili to ward off colds and nasties

What makes you different to other lunch delivery companies?

Chomp is committed to quality with it's ingredients and it's service - we want people to grow with us and feel like they are part of the journey. We have a conscience and genuinely care about where our produce and packaging come from and we are doing everything we can to make Chomp a sustainable brand that the customer trusts. We may be small but we are doing big things and we hope the public enjoys supporting a small businesses as much as we do.

What is next for Chomp life? and where do you see it going?

4 months in and we can hardly believe the response, we now have our regular customers and are attracting new ones everyday - from Surry Hills to Silverwater! We are going to continue to provide interesting, delicious and healthy (most of the time!)lunches to Sydneysiders, our dream is to have a retail space where we make and package all meals onsite and an army of Chomp electric scooters and cars zooming around delivering food.

But for now, it's heads down and carry on making sandwiches for all our amazing Chompstars!