Bonta Vera

Passion has certainly been a recipe for success at Bonta Vera.

The story in this blog is told from these steps.

The story also started from these steps.

But in no way does the story end here.

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John Baker grew up living in the Old Courthouse at Minmi. The Courthouse, which was converted into a fine dining restaurant, was always a bustle of wedding receptions, wait staff and a busy chef.

John would sit on these steps as a child, watching his family, the staff and the chef create dishes and memories for their guests.

“I was a schnitzel and chips kid,” John admits.

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“But the chef would sneak me bits of fancy dishes, a bit of chocolate desert here and there.”

Unbeknownst to John, the lessons learned from watching the kitchen run like clockwork for all those years would be invaluable to his future own establishment.

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“I love lasagne, burgers – all that naughty food.”

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But 5 years ago, after watching the documentary Earthlings, John made the decision to begin a vegan lifestyle. The transition from burgers to veganism was difficult, because there were just no commercial alternatives available.

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But then, John started experimenting. And just like second nature he began creating some of the most incredible meals and deserts available in Newcastle for plant based diets.

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Not only did his pallet expand but so did his repertoire. There isn’t much he can’t make taste amazing.

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Soon, after success with his dishes in local cafes and catering events, John made the decision to open his own cafe.

Enter, Bonta Vera.
Newcastle’s first Vegan Cafe.

Located in John’s childhood home – The Old Courthouse.

40 Church Street, Minmi.

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John now runs his own kitchen – the very one he used to sit in as a child. But now he is the one creating the magic in the kitchen and serving clients a special meal that makes a difference.

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The signature dish at Bonta Vera, apart from the incredible cakes, is the triple cheeseburger.

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Watching John create the cheeseburger with the detail of an artist is something to behold.

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And the taste?

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Beyond amazing!

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The success has been phenomenal and the cafe wonderfully received.

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Bonta Vera Herb Garden – Plant to plate!

“The community, our clients: everyone really, it has been amazing,” John tells us, “I just want people to know that you can go from eating beef lasagne to vegan lasagne and there really IS no transition period to worry about.”
With 4 staff and plans to expand with more cafes in the Newcastle CBD and retail products, John is one busy guy.

“I love to cook and I love the food I cook. Simple as that.”

Passion has certainly been a recipe for success at Bonta Vera.

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The future is very exciting for John, Bonta Vera and Newcastle’s food loving community.

To talk more about the Newcastle Community, get in touch with one of our Villagers at Villager Property.

A Culture to Create In…

“There are no guarantees – with art, life, business – none. But that consistently pushes me to get to the next step”


It’s no secret that Newcastle is a hyper-creative community: take a walk around our own Darby Street from our eagle’s nest at the Newcastle Art Gallery to the public art installations along the street (including the giant headphone sculpture), all the way to the Community Garden across the road from Villager Property A scene full of painting and design.

Villager caught up with local artist Jess Kellar to talk all things Newcastle art scene.

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Jess runs Jess Kellar Art from studio  754 in Hunter Street. A large warehouse where a community of Newcastle creatives can each work their respective magic.

“The best thing about our studio,” says Jess, “is the view from the rooftop, where I am most of the time, working on my latest projects.”


Local girl Jess has always had a passion for creating and feels lucky to be a Novocastrian where such a passion could be nurtured.

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She has had shows at Cooks Hill Gallery, exhibited at Lane Cove Gallery, The Royal, Muswellbrook Art Prize and recently performed and collaborated with Hannah Bertram at Newcastle Art Gallery for the 2016 Dust Project.


“Newcastle is a vibrant community for artists,” Jess tells us. “There are a lot of creatives here: from musicians to designers, architects and artists. We are all in a very supportive and understanding space where we all just give it a go.”

Through writing for the Newcastle Herald, Jess has been able to work closely with many musicians in Newcastle. She is also the resident “live artist” for Groovin’ The Moo.

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Jess has worked with Arts Health for MS patients holding workshops and has also branched into “bio-art”, spending time with scientists at HMRI and producing collections from this experience which hung in the hallways of John Hunter Hospital.

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Jess’s style is high energy. When painting she uses strong rich colour and high contrast. In her sketches of Newcastle, the deep charcoals contrast with pure whites.

“Neutral isn’t my specialty,” she laughs.

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While already quite accomplished, Jess is finishing her Bachelor of Fine Art at Newcastle University and was recently the recipient of the 2016 William Fletcher Foundation Scholarship.

And in the true spirit of a Villager in our community she pays this forward by mentoring High School students in many of Newcastle’s public schools.

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“There are no guarantees with art, life, business. None. But that consistently pushes me to get to the next step.”

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The next step for Jess, working from her studio at 754, is to follow her passion in sketching and interpreting the city of Newcastle. The Rooftop Series is a timely project for the city and we are super excited to see the completed works.

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To learn more about living in the creative community of Newcastle – contact Villager Property




Little Cravings

Eric feels Carrington is a destination. Just outside the city – its edgy – in more ways than one.

As you wander down Young Street in Carrington, the funky sounds and irresistible smells coming from the colourful restaurant at Antojitos almost levitate your body and carry you over to the menu. Homemade tortillas and salsa, tasty simple food.

Eric Flores had always thought about starting his own business, and he knew it would somehow involve food.

With a background in commercial real estate, he has helped numerous others begin their own journey as business owners, and his own is now flourishing.
Eric grew up in California where he was emerged in Mexican street food culture. Mexican food is simple food. It’s not fancy, just good.
It was at the California Polytechnic State University where Eric met Newcastle girl, Kristy.
Kristy had moved to California on a Basketball scholarship. She would soon become his wife.
The pair came back to Australia and have since made Newcastle their home, with their growing family in tow.
Its here that the dream of owning their own establishment has become a reality – With Antojitos.
Antojitos literally means “little cravings” and is Mexican slang for street food.
Why Carrington?
Eric feels Carrington is a destination. Just outside the city – its edgy – in more ways than one.
Antojitos clients always so they feel so relaxed, and thats what Eric wants here.

A simple, casual , non-pretentious vibe and its this atmosphere struck a chord with the locals.

There is a place for cafes here in Newcastle and surrounds to stretch the boundaries.

But the all important Question for the Villagers was this; how do we pronounce it?!

Eric laughs “An-To-He-Toes”
However you want to pronounce it, this funky little place in Young street is a wonderful addition to the Carrinton landscape.
Eric thanks the community which has been so supportive, The locals really want to see people succeed here.
And just a hot tip… next time your in town – do yourself a favour and order the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  DELICIOSO!

Raising the Village

Happy Mothers Day Villagers.
Happy Mothers Day Newcastle.
You are doing a wonderful job!

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There are billions of Mums in the world, every one of them different. 

In fact, Mums represent the variety in life,

Giving birth to new life. 

Then nourishing their children with love.

Most of our staff are mothers (and fathers, too) and in the presence of any child there is a constant element of parental eyes scanning the horizon for equal part hazard and opportunity for fun!

We believe that Newcastle is a fortunate and magnificent place to raise a family.

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They say “It takes a village to raise a child”

Now most of us are familiar with this quote and its implications – but what does it mean in our modern society with ever changing social constructs and constantly evolving views of motherhood and parenting?

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In Newcastle we are fortunate to be surrounded by a community that offers limitless community involvement from sports clubs, swimming and surf orientated activities, world class parks and recreation facilities, beautiful beaches, national parks to explore and constant vibrancy in the cultural and social realm.


The vibe of the Newcastle Villager is that of a friendly disposition; supporting the personal and professional growth of us all.

Kind strangers, innovative social movements, energetic cultural construction.


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The town is rich in heritage, a beautiful tale to tell… and the future of Newcastle and its villages continues to get brighter and brighter.

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The wider community, the friends at school, the neighbourhood, your family and your friends;
The Villagers. 
The land, the homes, the businesses, the real estate, the location;
The Village. 


These are the elements that come together to help raise the future of Newcastle.
And we just happen to think that is pretty awesome!


Happy Mothers Day Villagers.
Happy Mothers Day Newcastle.

You are doing a wonderful job!

The Gentle Monk

“Lack of flexibility will age you rapidly” says Bob. “It is not age that causes lack of movement, it is the lack of moving that causes the inability to move.”

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As the sun creeps over the horizon on Saturday mornings, Bob and the Villagers are stretching their limbs and calibrating their bodies.

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With the assistance of Stretch Therapist Bob,
Postures are being corrected…

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and hips are being centred.

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After a session of stretching, the whole body feels light and open.

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The benefits and endorphins are present right from the start.

Much like Bob, really.
An open and gentle monk; instantly likeable.

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Bob had been running a Gym, PT sessions and group fitness classes for many years before he encountered Stretch Therapy in the 90s. But as soon as he saw and participated in a session, he knew this was the path he was meant to take.

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Ben met bob as a teenager, when he went to work in Bob’s Gym. They have remained close friends for over 15 years now.

But Bob’s proximity to Newcastle hasn’t remained close for all those years – his passion for balance and harmony lead him to Cambodia where he lived in Siem Reap.

4 years ago he was ordained as a Monk, in a very special ceremony in Angkor Wat.
There, in contrast to Cooks Hill, mornings in Cambodia consisted of a 4am start; meditation in the ancient temple; followed by a day of peaceful reflection and one simple meal.

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“Lack of flexibility will age you rapidly” says Bob. “It is not age that causes lack of movement, it is the lack of moving that causes the inability to move.”

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Bob’s exhortation is to take it slowly, balance the number of exercises, stop when you’ve had enough. Stretching is about you not the exercises.

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The difference between yoga and stretch therapy is that stretch therapy always has an anchor point – a partner or fixture – an axis for balance.

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Bob insists we should all follow his one rule of investment in our bodies:

“Move every joint,

in every way,

every day.”

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Bob; One of life’s exceptional people.