Spain’s economy isn’t exactly thriving at the moment. In fact, its unemployment rate for under 25 year-old’s is at a staggering 54% (!) (the overall employment rate lying at 25%) which beats most other European countries. So that’s not a very tempting climate to take risks and turn your biggest passion into a job, right? Except that, for Silvia Cabra, it is. Silvia and her boyfriend, Javi Ruz, showed some serious guts and currently turn the culinary sphere in and around Barcelona upside down. They sell homemade, seasonal sandwiches in a vintage van and call this enterprise Caravan Made. I say enterprise because Barcelona is not like Portland, having a food cart here is seen as very progressive (and erm, usually illegal) concept but this couple – in a refusal to settle for something permanent – is smashing it.

I met Silvia a few years ago at What do you fancy love?, a café in west Berlin where  she was baking the most! delicious! cakes. We had a little catch-up about her newest project recently, it left my eyes all sparkly and dreamy which is why I thought you guys needed to know about it. On a side note… my version of Caravan Made would be to get myself a handsome guy, hit the Canadian road and become filthy rich by selling exceptional frozen pizza from run-down car boot. So Silvia and Javi’s story is a lot more exciting.

Caravan_made_sandwich Caravan_made_burger_pastries

Originally from a background in advertising, Silvia picked up the growing trend for conscious and thoughtful eating during a year out in Berlin and decided she wanted to take that passion further. Javi was doing an internship at the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, northern Catalonia, at the time. The place has coincidentally been voted the world’s best restaurant and often serves as a career springboard for youngsters into the commercial gastronomy sector. No surprise that some people didn’t understand why he didn’t want to climb further on the ladder there and instead decided to start from scratch again.

“We saw these food carts on travels and in movies and thought they were a really attractive idea. We still don’t know where we will end up living, we are very young and it wasn’t the right time for something permanent,” Silvia said. But there was still a long way to go towards actually becoming a foodie entrepreneur. Silvia had her day job in a big company, Javi was only sporadically in town because of his placement. “One day he went to a place close to Barcelona that sold second-hand caravans and vans. He fell in love with one and made the first pay without even telling me. When he sent me a picture of it, I just replied with “WHATTTT?!?!?”



Up until that point, Silvia had been been using her parents’ car which doesn’t have a linkage and was therefore useless for a caravan and Javi didn’t even have a car. Silvia describes these early beginnings as really “messy and chaotic”, but to me they sound like a pretty romantic start to a journey that would soon become really big. Within days after their first event in the Barcelona area, the Catalan press was all over the couple, others invited them to more fairs and festivals. People generally wanted to become part of the Caravan Made brand and kept spreading the word on social media.

What makes this tale so exciting and inspiring to me is how it so clearly shows that if you take your dreams seriously and risk something now and again, you might just be surprised by how supportive people around you are. Silvia said about this distinctive phenomenon in Spanish culture: “There are lots of people who are creating their own little somethings here. They sell ceramics, bake, design or whatever their thing is. If you don’t have anything to lose, it seems easier to believe in changing things. We cannot lose more than we have which at the moment isn’t a lot to be fair.”



When we talk about establishing the street food scene in other cities like Portland, the place where Silvia’s sister lives and her biggest inspiration, it becomes clear that staying in Spain and fighting for a permanent permit there would be a pretty difficult venture. But why stay if your business has four wheels and was built to travel the world anyway?

“Right now I’m really enjoying the caravan and how people respond to it. But I also see myself traveling somewhere else and exploring street food in other cultures. Now I know that I always want to do something that compliments our personality and all that we have created so far. But really, my dream is to just take the caravan and travel.”


Photos 1-3 by Alba Garcia
Photos 4-7 by Héctor Hernández