Thinking of starting up in street food? Excellent. The UK needs more dedicated foodies following in the footsteps of the 3000 traders already making our streets taste good. And the great news is that you can do it without spending a fortune, as long as you’re really committed and have an interesting product. The best street food traders have tangible passion for the food they sell.
So how do you start?
First off, there’s a lot of legal hoops to jump through when it comes to running a street food business. You need to go the extra mile to keep customers safe if you’re cooking on the go, and that means maintaining a top notch due diligence system to control any potential risks and hazards.
You’ll need to make sure you (and your staff) have undergone appropriate training too. Gaining recognised qualifications is the easiest ways to show EHOs you know what you’re doing.
Now, units. There are lots of options. If you haven’t got much to invest, best go for a gazebo – there’s already loads of [very lovely] Citroen H vans out there anyway. You can get a cracking gazebo from £600 and it’ll be exactly what you need while you’re finding your feet. Make sure you get it branded professionally though – these days street food units look cool.
Next, make sure your equipment is up to scratch. Spend the most you can on equipment, but don’t go buying anything you don’t desperately need just yet. Make sure your equipment is legally compliant too. Gas equipment must be CE marked and have flame failure devices. There’s actually a super legal, super safe gas rig on the market right now – it’s called QuickSafe LPG. Google it.
Most important: the food. It’s got to be good enough to keep customers coming back. Three words. Refine refine refine. Keep working on your dishes and don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking ‘it’s perfect’. You never know when a sneaky trader might come up with their improvements on your food.
Alongside collectives and individual traders, the Nationwide Caterers Association (most people call us NCASS – hello!) has been supporting and shaping the street food scene since it kicked off in 2009.
And we want to help you too. Remember the all-important due diligence system and recognised training courses? We’ll give you those when you join. You’ll find loads more useful information about street food at www.ncass.org.uk and www.streetfood.org.uk. Plus, in September you’ll be able to take our brand new Starting Up in Street Food training course.