11 | Sep | 15

Richard Johnson

Street Food Crazies

Are you suited to street food? Have you got what it takes? Barny and Flic Luxmoore — the team behind Jabberwocky — have written a brilliant new book about the business to help you decide. Last month we ran their thoughts on street food and social media here, but this excerpt is all about the personality you need if you’re going to make street food your living. We have spent the summer trading with some of the best of them at the British Street Food Awards — read this NOW to see if you can cut the mustard!

We street food traders are a mixed bunch. We come from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds and have many different reasons for picking this as our career. To the outside world we are a bunch of crazies who can sustain a conversation about the merits of one gazebo over another for longer than seems proper. To each other, we’re just getting it right. There is one big thing that unites us, and that’s what makes a street food trader. We want this. And we’re willing to put in the effort. There are enough stumbling blocks, problems and rainy days on the road to street food success that unless you are determined to succeed, you will probably quit. You also have to want it for the right reasons, which only you will know. Just for starters: It’s a different pace of life, you are your own boss, you get to play with food all day and you feed people, without the hassle and stuffiness of a restaurant and yes, of course you can earn a living from it. I get told all the time that street food is anything from “a nice little earner” to “pretty profitable” or even a full-on “goldmine”. It’s all that, and none of these things. When you get it right: nail that perfect event with the right amount of food at the right time with the perfect weather and crowds, it’s a goldmine. The following weekend, the one that no one talks about: where it rained, you paid too much for your pitch and no one showed up – it’s anything but. If you want to start a street food business just for the cash, you might be disappointed. Making a profit here is more than just churning out something you defrosted earlier. All the best street food vendors are fiercely proud of their product, and genuinely believe that it is the very best of its kind: Sure, I’ve tasted other toasties, and I liked them, but between you and me, ours is the best. I would hope that all our fellow toastie slingers out there say exactly the same thing. I want people to come back to the van and tell me that they never knew a toastie could taste so good. And then buy another one. Work out why you want to start a street food business, and what about your life will be improved if you do. Then keep that in mind and go for the goldmine. Determination and hard work will see you through most of the early hurdles of street food. The job itself requires no formal qualification beyond a food hygiene certificate, and technically only £1000 of start-up capital (I’ve done the maths). There are a lot of other skills that will ease your journey into street food: knowing how to cook is certainly right up there, but almost everything else you can teach yourself. If you have the work ethic, the rest is just a matter of time. For an exhaustive list of who should get into street food, how you can do it for £1000 and what skills you need to master have a read of our book, Street Food Soliloquy, which is available now on Amazon and Kindle.