If you’ve ever thought about leaving behind the 9–5 and making a career out of your passion for food, then this could be the time. Because this year we’re going to see The Summer of Street Food. And the reasons are two-fold…
People want to eat, drink, and be very merry!
First, customer demand is high. After a year of being cooped up inside due to the pandemic and hospitality having to shut its doors, open its doors, operate outside, enforce social distancing inside… basically, we’ve all missed out on a lot of wining and dining and boozing and eating, and the nation is literally ready to jump on food and drink with friends and family.
Street food festivals are not only safe bets for feasting if restrictions tighten again, but they also embody the spirit of celebration. We want to eat and drink together—and we want it now!
Foodie folk are following their dreams…
Secondly, as we come out of the pandemic, lots of people are taking the plunge and finally realising their culinary dreams. Could that be you…?
Maybe a pandemic redundancy has given you the gall for a career change. Or you had a bar, restaurant or café—but the indoor socialising rules have made you take your offering outside.
Or perhaps you’re embodying your natural entrepreneurial spirit and want to finally jump on that street food venture because you know that this year it could really take off.
Feeling the fear? It could be easier than you think. Whatever your inspiration or motivation, here are the street food facts you need to know as you get ready for The Summer of Street Food:
- You don’t need to be a chef. You might have to cut your culinary teeth in the industry if you want to work in restaurant kitchens, but street food festivals are full of self-starters. Sure, you need to serve up some top-notch grub, but you don’t need to have trained at a swanky culinary school or gained a Michelin star—street food is also about bags of passion and hard work.
- Do a couple of dishes really well. Lots of newbies make the mistake of a massive menu when they start serving from their street food shelter, but less is often more. It might be tempting to go for variety in an attempt to please everyone, but find your niche—this is your how you get your name known.
- It helps to be fit as a fiddle. We’re not being preachy, but we know the score—there’s a lot of physical labour in working the street food circuit. Lugging all your kit, like cookers, promo banners and gas bottles, is hard graft. It might be time to start pumping some iron (though the gas bottles will help!).
- You’ll have to work weekends. Probably goes without saying, but get ready for busy Saturdays and Sundays this summer!
- You can forget about overheads. Hurrah! It’s one of the main reasons the street food trend has swept the UK. Street food is do-able, it’s accessible. You might have to pay for a plot at a festival and your street food shelter, but there’s no extortionate monthly rent that often sees a restaurant go bust—and that means more money to put into your product and building your brand.
- Go big with your branding. Working at different street food markets means new customers all the time. They might not know who you are—so you have to show them. Create custom branding and go personalised with your printing. Whether that’s your gazebo, flags, sky banners, table covers or something else, make sure you stand out from the crowd.
- Be social media savvy. Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but when you’re running a street food business you have to wear a lot more hats than just your chef’s hat. You’ve got to be the driver, the accountant, the PR guru. Get your marketing hat on, make sure your event kit is fully branded for maximum exposure, and take it to Instagram and other social media platforms. It’s where people go to find out about you and swoon over your dishes.
- Camaraderie is a way of life. Becoming a street food vendor is hard work, but you’re never alone—there’s a real community on the street food scene. This might be a solo venture and you might finally be your own boss, but you’re also joining the street food festival family, and that camaraderie is what The Summer of Street Food is all about.