Word on the street is that street food rules, so how can these trends be adapted to suit mainstream menus? According to Horizons’ Menu Trends Report, Mexican street food is now an established trend with ‘New Wave Americana’ and Korean cuisine following hotly on its heels. Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking are also gaining popularity, while Hawaiian Poke and Vietnamese Pho have been tipped as ones to watch in 2017. Powerfood is another buzzword set to make headlines and influence street food menus. Whilst the majority of catering establishments don’t aspire to be trendsetters, they do need to keep up-to-speed with the latest food trends and, where possible, try to adapt them to suit their own customer base. So how can this be achieved? Seven talented chefs and industry experts provide the answers…

Ching He Huang, TV chef and cookery author Most street food dishes have made their way onto restaurant menus however this takes time. In terms of Chinese cuisine and Asian dishes such as Hainan Chicken rice, Spring rolls, Shanghai shenjianbao dumplings, Bao buns (Taiwanese Gua Bao), Thai Pad Thai, Vietnamese Pho they have made it big with some restaurants specialising in them as their prime USP or draw, as long as the food is outstanding in quality and is authentic representing the taste and origins. It is difficult to introduce street food dishes that are relatively unknown and fuse them and create success. Timing needs to meet opportunity meets quality, clarity and understanding. The heritage of the cuisine must be prominent and clear to do it justice.

Matt White, current chair of TUCO, and director of catering, hotel and conference services at the University of Reading Ease of travel and mixing of cultures has caused a sea-change in our attitude towards food from around the world. In universities for example, our research shows that 84% of students want to eat a mix of food from home and abroad, and this is very much reflected in the country’s love affair with international street stalls and street food. Pop-ups are a great method for chefs to trial new cuisines and test their popularity. TUCO members have found remarkable success with a series of international food stalls and events. Take Royal Holloway University of London, for example, where street food carts were implemented across the campus and resulted in 75% of students stating they were ‘more likely to eat on campus because of the new global street food’. And what’s more, in just one year the initiative increased revenue by 25%. Before investing in new concepts such as this, it is key to conduct research. Talk to your customers about what sort of flavours they want to see on the menu, then trial dishes on a temporary basis. Make it as authentic as you can by using original ingredients (many of which are readily available) and if they work, think about making them a more permanent fixture.

Olivia Shuttleworth, brand manager for Prep Premium FlavourHouse Oils The secret to great street food is quickly producing easy to eat, satisfying dishes that are packed with strong, punchy flavours. Make it easy with specialist oils designed specifically to “street up” any ingredients. An oak-smoked oil instantly gives food that characteristic smokiness. Use it to marinate meats before grilling, add it to burger toppings, slow-cooked chicken or pork, fried fish, tofu or roast vegetables for authentic flavour and an enticing aroma. For a spicy alternative to pasties, rustle up Columbian empanadas filled with beef, ham, fish, chicken, onions, spinach and peppers mixed with a Sriracha -style chilli and garlic flavoured oil.

Fergus Martin, Major’s development chef and former executive chef at Wyboston Lakes, Cambridge Tapping into the latest food trends and bringing an element of street to your menu can help you stay competitive. Incorporating this into your Specials boards and taster plates can be a great way to stay on track and move with the changing times, whilst not taking too big a risk. Mini bowl food could work really well, a Korean bibimbap or a superfood oriental or Pan-Asian salad bowl for example. By offering smaller plate offerings, you can gauge how well a dish works before adding it into your main menu. You also have the option to offer a larger portion.

Pornthep Kongha, head chef, Thai Silk London has a fantastic street food scene so we decided to launch our own Street Food menu, separate from the à la carte menu. Every chef at Thai Silk is from Thailand so we created a menu inspired by our favourite dishes. The menu includes crispy dried pork; steamed fish in lemon sauce; glass noodle salad; deep fried rice salad with minced pork; and papaya salad with small crab. We ship around 80% of our ingredients directly from Thailand ensuring that the dishes are truly authentic. Thai cuisine is very popular at the moment and our customers love the Street Food menu.

Teresa Suter, sales director, Vegware Street food is the perfect combination of quality and convenience. People love the flavour combinations, vibrant colours and delicious smells – and they love that they can get it on the move. Up your street food game by making your takeaway packaging part of the experience! Fresh, quirky designs and bright colours complement your food’s originality – this is what we had in mind when we created Vegware’s Tasting Notes collection. Customers want to know that their takeaway packaging is eco friendly, too – so ditch the polystyrene and go for an eco alternative like bagasse (recycled sugarcane) to score sustainability points.

James Davidson, executive chef, Rich Sauces If you run a pub/bar, utilise the beer garden and barbecue pit area in the summer/warmer months, where such street food favourites as ‘Dirty Burgers’, ‘Flamin Hot Dogs’ or ‘BBQ Pork Belly Ribs’ can be enjoyed in themed surroundings. Such workings are great for themed nights and can work alongside a drinks promotion to maximise the drawing in of customers. ‘Dirty Fries’ a great way to get started with street food and so easy to make up. Why not try taking your cooked fries, top with a diced cooked meat, say chicken, and drizzle with a smoky BBQ sauce, then top with cheese and a drizzle or two of Ranch Dressing and some sliced jalapeño peppers, or use sweet potato fries for another flavour explosion. Let your culinary imagination run wild and make standard fries sing with flavour and excitement!