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Interview: Gunjan Aylawadi - from making exquisite paper art to opening a vegan street food eatery

Many Sydneysiders know about Gunjan Aylawadi, some from her stunning, carefully engineered paper art, some from her delicious vegan street food eatery, Flyover Fritterie. For us, Gunjan’s art and food are one and cannot be separated.

Every time we eat the Flyover fritters, the perfect balance in the flavours and texture always reminds us of Gunjan’s art. The creativity and ability to turn something complex into simplicity is Gunjan’s secret sauce: using simple strings of paper, twisted, weaved, intertwined, precisely built into a mix of flat patterns and 3D forms, and yet, the final image is perfectly minimal.  

Gunjan Aylawadi

When food is ‘weaved’ together by Gunjan, every bite takes you on a colourful Indian / Australian-Asian tour – think miso chutney, seaweed khichari, pickled lemon. It makes you wonder how many different spices, thoughts and rounds of tasting have been put into a dish to reach such harmony – even if it’s just a simple fritter.

Flyover

What made you open a vegan street-style superfood eatery?

My love for Indian food – I've travelled a lot but very few times I've seen Indian food represented the way it is in India. It’s all about eating local and fresh. It’s about nourishing oneself with food. I wanted to bring the everyday food to our community – the Indian food that we eat for breakfast and lunch! 

What are the qualities in your art practice that you’ve brought into your business? 

Minimalism and repetition. My art practice is a lot about the meditative quality of repetition. The goal isn't necessarily perfection, but the process itself is. It’s about keeping up with each milestone where small iterations make the result better. Also, doing less but really focusing on what I'm doing. It is my personal style of working and has translated well even in food. The menu at our cafe is very small but it allows me to really focus on every element!

Before Flyover, you were doing pop-ups. Were they the experiments that laid the foundation for Flyover Fritterie?   

Absolutely! I needed to test the water before I jumped in full-time. The pop-ups really helped us figure out what people like! We grew from doing only one kind of fritters to a whole myriad of them. We also realised how important it was to everyone that our condiments were fresh. We also learnt a great deal about menu items that would work well with the fritters. We ran our pop ups for nearly 3 years before opening our store in the heart of Sydney CBD.

Flyover

What were the challenges transitioning from running the pop-ups and making art to opening Flyover Fritterie?

Too many to list here! We learnt that consumer behaviour is very different at a weekday-only lunch spot, compared to a weekend market. It was like figuring out everything all over again. And the stakes were too high this time around to not make it work. But we did what was needed and continue to do so every day!  

How is Flyover Fritterie navigating through the impact of COVID?

We've started to deliver food to the suburbs where our customers are now and have found ourselves a brand-new market, which we weren't catering to earlier. We also try and regularly innovate with menu and small batch products to keep everyone in the team going with enough hours and motivation! CBD is really tough at the moment, but we are lucky to be learning so many lessons this early on!

What is your vision for the future of Flyover Fritterie?

The same as it always was – an Indian eatery for breakfast and lunch. We are looking at improving a lot of things based on the lessons we've learnt recently. New products, better customer experience and hopefully many more locations!

This interview is part of ReCo Co-create Series. We are proud that Gunjan is using our refillable dishwasher powder at Flyover Fritterie. Thanks Gunjan for our beautiful friendship and ongoing support!

Flyover Fritterie:
Shop/1 Temperance Ln, Sydney NSW 2000BR> Open Tuesday–Friday: 10:30am–2pm
Online delivery available
flyoverfritterie.com

Gunjan Aylawadi’s art:
gunjanaylawadi.com

Danling Xiao