At Feast It, many of our street food traders have been greatly inspired by family members, the countries they grew up in, or their travels to far flung reaches of the world, when it comes to creating their incredible cuisine. We all know that food cooked with passion and love always tastes better, so we spoke to 3 traders to find out more about their culinary heritage and the inspiration for setting up their own street food businesses…
Gina Lely, Hanoi Cà Phe
Hanoi Cà Phe is an authentic Vietnamese family-run eatery in London, which combines the freshest ingredients with secret family recipes to create the ultimate happiness of Vietnamese street food.
Gina was born in Hanoi, Vietnam and moved to England when she was two, growing up with her older sister in a strong female household with her mother and grandmother. It was her grandmother who had enormous influence on her as a child and she would spend fascinated hours watching her cook, eventually assisting her in their little kitchen. Grandma Quyen, who reached her 100th birthday, was diagnosed with dementia, so Gina created Hanoi Cà Phê as a way to keep her grandmother’s stories and fantastic recipes alive.
Gina and her sister and mother in Vietnam
Gina and her grandmother today
"In Vietnam, food is a major part of any occasion, both happy and sad. It’s a beautiful way of bringing family, friends and strangers together to share experiences and feel united. I want to retain my family recipes and feed everyone I know and meet the delicious Vietnamese food I enjoyed as a child, always lovingly cooked by my grandma. Cooking with love provides food for the soul."
Tariq Al Khadi, BEYRoots
BEYRoots specialise in delicious wraps and vibrant salad bowls inspired by authentic Lebanese cuisine, serving wholesome dishes that join celebration with heritage and family memories from Lebanon.
Being half English and half Lebanese, Tariq and his family spent their summers in Lebanon, mostly around Beirut. He loved every second of his trips and really embraced Lebanese culture. Overwhelmed by the love for the cuisine of his country, the recipes of his childhood and the passing of his father, Tariq created BEYRoots in spring 2017. It was his father’s dream to drive around London in a vintage vehicle selling the best falafels, so Tariq quit his job and made it a reality. He still returns to Lebanon at least twice a year to see his family and friends and even plays for the Lebanese National Rugby Team.
Tariq and his dad at the Latini River
"I was raised Muslim and my dad and I used to fast when I was younger during the month of Ramadan. I would get home from school absolutely starving and would pretty much pass out on the sofa. All the while, my dad would be there making about 10 intricate and varied Lebanese dishes for the break of the fast. How he managed to create these amazing flavours while fasting and unable to taste was beyond me. Every evening we were stuffed to the brim with the best dishes - Kibbeh bi Laban (stuffed meat dumplings dunked in yoghurt and served with rice, Batata Harra (spicy potatoes), oven baked Shawarma, Fattoush, Tabbouli and many more. It was always amazing and sometimes I felt as though I would never be hungry again."
Tariq's dad buying Kenefe on holiday
"We used to go to Lebanon every summer during my school holidays for 6 weeks, spending a week in Damascus, Syria. We always had an amazing time there as a family, staying in our apartment in the mountains and riding our bikes through the forest with the local kids. We would go to the beaches pretty much daily and always stopped off at the local Shawarma joint on the way home. In Beirut, the hustle and bustle of the city streets was always inspiring to me - the combination of food smells, shisha smoke, car horns, prayer calls and shouts from apartment balconies would send you into a state of delirium."
Navina Bartlett, Coconut Chilli
Hill station inspired Indian cuisine that came from humble beginnings in Bristol and now feeds people all over London and the south, from their beautiful 1972 Land Rover.
In southern India, the countryside is some of the most fertile in the country and lush paddy fields and coconut groves make way for dense hillsides cultivated with pepper vines and coffee plants. Coconut Chilli’s menu is inspired by the ingredients of the Coorg region, which lies in the coffee hills above India’s ‘silicon city’, Bangalore. It was in this region that Navina spent many summers on her aunt’s coffee estate, where the hillside housed acres of coffee bushes and a huge variety of other plants growing amongst the coffee. Navina is inspired by the things that used to grow at the coffee estate, like bamboo, coconuts, pumpkin, oranges, cardamom and chillies.
Navina's photo of the lush Indian countryside
"When I was a teenager, I visited my cousins in Bangalore, India and we decided to do a road trip up to Coorg, in the Western Ghat mountains where my family own an Arabica coffee estate. We drove through some beautifully lush countryside with rice paddy fields and coconut groves. It was on this road trip that I first started thinking about the ingredients to be found in the region. Tellicherry black pepper, some of the finest in the world, grows in amongst the coffee bushes, enveloping the silver birch shade trees. It’s this pepper that gives our lamb and black pepper meatballs their distinctive kick."
Navina with her cousins on their road trip in India
To book any of these street food traders or to browse through over 450 more excellent chefs and mobile bars on our site, fill out our simple enquiry form today! All our suppliers are wonderfully unique and vetted to ensure that the food and drink they serve is of the finest quality and absolutely delicious.