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Eat for impact with Green-On

THESE SALADS TELL STORIES: Lip-smacking flavour, uncompromising ethics, peak nutrition, and human connection are served up in spades at Green-On salad bar, Cremorne.

And it’s all thanks to this Melbourne girl — the former youngest female exec chef in NYC at 25 years old.

Meet Frankie Cox: the 33-year-old chef creative behind premium Melbourne salad bar, Green-On. The former New York chef has been driving a truly grassroots reckoning in her hometown since 2021, carving out a space for locals to get curious about how they’re eating for impact. If you want to, you can learn about where every element of your meal is coming from, and feel proud about close-to-zero waste output.

Frankie’s ethos extends far beyond the walls of Green-On to permeate the lives of her clientele and team outside of lunch hours. The habitual ways we shop, consume and waste-manage are all in question after a bite at Green-On. But this hidden lunch haunt is much more preoccupied with inspiring people, rather than shaming them into action. Frankie and the crew have created a tight menu of go-to bowls that are made on the spot, or tweaked to someone’s individual preferences. The basic concept of each salad’s construction is: start with the foundation of greens, pick your toppings, lubricate with dressing, and choose your crunch or ‘texture’. You can pimp it out in any which way based on what is seasonally available, or just embrace one of Frankie’s signature combos.

Green-On’s considered approach to curating the humble salad (and showing how great it can be) is a force for small-scale change with flow-on effects in the community. To get you up to speed: Frankie was the youngest female Executive Chef in NYC when she took the culinary controls at the Australian restaurant, Two Hands, at just 25 years old. When most were in a quarter-life crisis, Frankie had her mind set on proving her skills and creativity in the kitchen, all the way on the other side of the world. She puts it down to the sheer “adrenaline” of it all and demonstrates — given she never undertook ‘formal’ training prior — that the real recipe for success is hard work, passion, and grit.

After her stint at Two Hands, Frankie traveled the world as a private chef. During this time, she cooked for celebrities, politicians, and some of the most influential figures in the country. Now, at Green-On, her skills are still flexed every day, but in a completely niched-down context. Rife with agency HQs, coworking spaces, and creative offices, Cremorne is the jackpot for targeting the young working professional who often grabs lunch from a nearby café.

You might be wondering, “Why open a salad bar, and not a hatted restaurant or groovy wine bar or some other haute hospitality pursuit?” The answer comes down to purpose, and what vehicle could yield the most environmental, attitudinal, and connective impacts in Frankie’s hometown.

Since coming home to Australia, Frankie’s priority has shifted to making positive impacts through the ritual of a healthy, convenient, and good-looking lunch. (That’s at least how she first lures them in). It’s the moral of the story that comes next; the idea that a salad can represent a much more complex and intricately-planned medley of ingredients. These ingredients have been actively sought out for their regenerative farming practices and bursting flavour. This also inevitably means more nutrients in someone’s diet. The final pact is to generate as little waste as possible, sans plastic. Even the chairs on-site are made from upcycled shampoo and conditioner bottles, and the tabletops are made from a composite of repurposed concrete and wood chips.

“Our philosophy is to make local, nutritious food as approachable and accessible as possible, all while being mindful of the environment. We’re serious about what we do, but we don’t take ourselves super seriously”, says Frankie.

“We aren’t here to tell people off or feel exclusive – Green-On might be the first step for someone trying to tweak their habits, or just a delicious option for lunch that makes you significantly more satisfied than a quick-fix, plastic-wrapped alternative”.

Frankie opened Green-On with the mission to reignite a love for locally and ethically sourced food, and to redefine our collective relationship with lunch. This is done through many pillars of community, connection, consumption, produce, waste, taste, planet, people, production, growers, farmers, health, happiness, wellness, regeneration, and impact. Green-On leads by example, showing us what food should be, and can be, when we take the time to shift our attention to upgrading our daily rituals. This is rewarded, too, with Green-On’s ‘stars’ system — every bowl equals a star, and 15 of those means you get a freebie.

“The vibe at Green-On is palpable, and we’re in the business of making long-lasting connections. Think good music, positive energy, and humans that look you in the eye so they remember your name and order. Our ethos is that we have the power to create a more positive future with every bowl, for regular weekday customers and the occasional drop-in alike”.

Green-On’s format of a salad bar makes eating for impact approachable and accessible so that consumers can vote with their food choices in a small (but compounding) way. Frankie knows that connection — be it between farmer and her, or her and customer, or customer and team member — is the key to a happier and healthier future for us all.

Follow the journey @green_on_co

Shop 1, Building 5 / 658 Church St Richmond VIC

Words by Genevieve Phelan

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