Bel Shapiro is the founder of Bell & Brisket, one of London’s best known street food traders serving a delicious modern take on pimped up salt beef bagels. Since they started out in 2011 they’ve won prizes from the London Lifestyle Awards, The Grab and Go Awards and placed in Time Out’s list of the top 10 dishes in London. They’re currently residing in Pop Brixton and we’re incredibly happy to say that you’re able to book them for you event on Feast It.
Here Bel provides a handy list of tips of how to get started in the street food industry, with particular reference to the nasty things that you’ll never expect to pop up, but just do. We hope you enjoy!*
So, you're thinking of setting up your very own street food business? You’ve got grand plans to serve incredible food to eager, salivating customers, happy to queue at your stall whatever the weather to buy your culinary creations to great acclaim and joyful feedback.
The good news is you can do this! And do it you will if you’ve got the belief, the desire and just that little bit of nous to got with it! However, it’s really difficult to get started without some essential behind the scenes tips of the industry, invariably involving a roll of gaffer tape, a chalk pen and an endless supply of cable ties. Here’s a potted list of the multi-tasking skills that you’re going to need if you’ve got plans to run a street food stall:
1.Appreciation of the Weather: It's an obvious one to start with, but you’ll become absolutely obsessed with the Met Office app. Wind is worse than rain, humorous though it is to see a gazebo fly through the air magic carpet style this is obviously a danger to the public. Make absolutely sure that you put weights at the feet of your gazebo before you do anything else. Cable ties can often be a godsend here. You’ve got to remember that bad days with the weather are just an inevitability, and the it’s the street food chef’s job to be able to cook through them!
2.Jack of all, each and every trade: You’re going to need to be an electrician (cable ties) plumber (gaffer tape) sign writer (chalk pen), accountant, gas engineer, mechanic, social media expert, carpenter, chef, kitchen porter, weight lifter, "Jenga" van packing expert, van driver, and need a large capacity for alcohol consumption (not while driving obvs). It’s incredibly hard work but the upshot is that you suddenly realise that you’re qualified for about fifty jobs when all you wanted to do was to be a chef.
3.A (very) cheery disposition: Street food traders love a good old moan to each other, but are salt of the earth and eternally optimistic to their customers. This is a skill not to be underestimated and, in a world where online reviews are becoming more and more important, increasingly vital to your business. No matter how tempting it may be (and it will be very tempting at certain points) always resist the temptation to go Basil Fawlty on the general public.
4.The show must, must, must go on: Even if all the wheels fall off your van, you are struck by lightening and your cat has died that very morning, you must, must, must still turn up at the market or the event. Street food isn’t a great place for people who tend to call in sick a lot.
5.The food. Almost not worth mentioning because obviously it needs to be amazing. It's worth remembering that the whole package is incredibly important; taste, presentation, originality. As general rules: less is more, forge your own path, don't copy anyone else's stuff...(doesn't go down well). Do one thing and do it really well.
Frankly the streetfood adventure is the best use of gaffer tape, cable ties and chalk pens you could ever possible think of. Go for it.