Stefan Bradley

Elias Saliba has brought a taste of his heritage to the Loch Sport community, and it’s quite a long way from his place of birth in the far north of Syria, but his kebabs have already made a mark since his food truck became operational in April.

“I’ve been an independent owner of BP Loch Sport for a year and a half, and every customer who comes to town asks me where to find some takeaway food. That’s why I started Loch Sport Kebabs, and placed it at the BP. I saw a need for it,” Mr Saliba said.

“I wanted to bring my heritage to the idea. A lot of people think that kebabs are Lebanese, Iraqi or Turkish. I would correct that by saying that kebabs are from Mesopotamia. They are from Assyria, going back to biblical times. Mesopotamia doesn’t exist today but the nations do exist, so the neighbouring countries took that tradition and used it as their own.

“I was born in Syria, I studied in Syria, I studied in Germany and settled in Melbourne for 34 years, and now I ended up in Loch Sport. I came from a small Syrian town on the Iraqi-Turkish border in Syria’s far north called Qabre Hewore, and I ended up in a little town called Loch Sport. I’m very proud to be part of the community.”

Mr Saliba has said he’s received very positive feedback so far.

“We are the king of kebabs,” he laughed.

“It’s been popular because we get the product out to service the local community and everyone likes them. It’s not like other kebabs. The success comes from the ingredients and the right amount of product on a kebab – the sauce, meat and salads. It’s not just wrapping ingredients together.

“I haven’t worked much in hospitality, but I love cooking at my home kitchen. Now I can bring that to everyone.”

Loch Sport Kebabs is one of the first businesses in Australia to use Food Truck Pub, an online food truck ordering system from the United States, allowing customers to avoid the queue and conveniently set up a pickup time.

“The online system is slowly growing and we think this holiday period we will see it increase dramatically. Some people still prefer to walk in and order though,” Mr Saliba said.

Mr Saliba said he wanted to bring more food options to Loch Sport.

“We want to make grilled kebabs on charcoal. We’d like to have a sit-in restaurant at a later stage, but we’ll see how we go. We want to attract visitors in Gippsland to come to Loch Sport and try something different in the region,” he said.

“I won’t be taking the food truck out to events. I made the Loch Sport Kebabs van specifically to be home at BP Loch Sport. Because of the great quality, customers will drive for it, that’s my philosophy. The customers say it’s a great asset to the town. They say it’s something different, and the chips are the best.

“We open a little earlier at 11.30am now because customers were telling me their lunch break at work was between 11 and 12. And we listen to the customers, and now have more stock in the BP that they want as well. We thank the community and visitors for their support. We’re here for them.”

Elias Saliba owner of BP Loch Sport and Loch Sport Kebabs. Photo: Stefan Bradley

Elias Saliba owner of BP Loch Sport and Loch Sport Kebabs. Photo: Stefan Bradley