The Word on the Street

The success of street food is permeating all corners of hospitality. Identified as a key trend a number of years ago, no-one could possibly predict how much more important it would soon become. Portable and quick to prepare, street food has been the saving grace for many caterers since the pandemic, offering a diverse range of solutions for application across the sector. In this edition of the Melting Pot, we hear from a number of businesses across all corners of the marketplace who are adopting street food influences to help them thrive despite the difficulties social distancing measures may bring.

CHRISTIAN KABERG Group Operations Director, St Pancras Hotel Group
Not just the food itself but replicating the experience street food gives you is a big part of what we offer at Pop Sapori, the pop up restaurant inside The Megaro. Kings Cross was once bustling with street food stalls, full of love and laughter. The Fried Cod Arancini is a dish you can eat with your hands and really get involved with, and our Sicilian Cannolo is hand crafted in house. Our amazing focaccia is just like you’d expect from a market
stall. Paired with KXFM radio station and bright, edgy interiors street food influences have bought loads of fun and laughter into the hotel.

KATE SNOW Home Economist and Education Consultant
I’ve worked with Heinz Foodservice to create a collection of nutritious, school-compliant recipes to inspire menus and keep students ‘full
of beanz’. Children and younger adults are so familiar with various global cuisines nowadays and street food inspired dishes are a fantastic way to keep them interested in the school lunch. From beanz, egg and cheese breakfast burritos, sweet chilli chicken and bean quesadillas to tacos there are recipes for all day parts and many of the recipes can be made in advance and kept warm in the hot cupboard. The recipes are all deliciously versatile dishes which allows you to switch between vegetarian, vegan and meat inclusions so that you can easily cater to different diets.

MATT DOE Director, SO41 Catering
Street food was the inspiration and has played a massive part in our business since launching last year. The uncomplicated nature and speed of service combined with big flavours and showing where your product is from is currently bang on trend and will continue to grow with the Instagram generation. Our SO41 signature burger is made in house using
locally sourced Hampshire beef, we make our own sauces and Brioche bun. Its restaurant quality food without the fuss, faster service and at a fraction of the price, what’s not to like!

GEORGE BIFFEN Owner, Biffen’s Kitchen
All of the dishes I make are inspired by the cuisines I’ve tried during my adventures around the world. Surfing also has a huge impact on my food, as some of the best meals I’ve had were found in surf destinations and I like to keep the costs inexpensive so that everyone can experience good quality street food. My latest wanderings include Morocco, Mexico and the West Coast of America which have inspired menu options such as my Moroccan
lamb stew and chicken and halloumi wraps with homemade green hummus and pickled pink onions. My menu includes dishes for breakfast and brunch to handheld lunch options such as Banh Mi Vietnamese Baguette with slow-cooked pork belly to warming dinner options such as Sri Lankan Chicken Pie. We have sweet dishes too, including Kaiserschmarrn (Fluffy traditional pancakes) which are an Austrian ski food classic, I first tried them when I was skiing in Kapron and St Anton.

KIM HARTLEY Business Development Chef, Mission Foods
At the heart of the street food buzz are authentic, handheld and informal menus. Recent research shows that customers are seeking more street food and sharing style menus, meaning there is an opportunity to create convenient and exciting dishes that are full of flavour. As the world’s largest producer of tortilla products, we offer a large range of tortillas, flatbreads, pittas, naans and tortilla chips that can elevate any dish and a solution
to suit all your needs. From these key base elements, you have the opportunity to create incredibly diverse and exciting hand-held meals, be it Cajun chicken, quesadillas, BBQ wraps or lamb kofta filled pittas.

JAMES BIRCH Business Development Chef, Unilever
COVID 19 has thrown up great challenges for our industry but street food has proven highly resilient. It’s also versatile, working well for small independent mobile operators, high-profile chefs and contract caterers looking for fresh, vibrant offers. Mobile and app payments that limit queuing are becoming normal, especially through socially distanced food halls such as Shelter Hall Raw Brighton. Vegetables continue to be a growing attraction. The KNORR Future 50 recipe booklet provides inspiration for utilising sustainable plant hero options across all day parts and food formats. There are handheld snacks ideas such as tofu black bean tacos and delicious lunch and dinner options such as smoky aubergine “ribs” or chickpea pancakes with roasted parsley roots. There are also various side dishes, soups and hearty, winter salad recipes such as roasted hokkaido pumpkin, corn and sweet potato salad with alfalfa sprouts.
My top tips are: Create visually appealing Instagram-able dishes, have a well-priced small menu (max 6 items) and combine slow, considered prep with fast dish assembly.

SCOTT DIXON Managing Director, The Flava People
We have seen the Street Food Effect adopted by our friends in the industry; a stripped back, smaller menu based around a theme, executing those dishes to the best possible standard. This is also often seen in Japanese towns and cities, where it is much more common to visit a restaurant which specialises in one thing – such as yakitori or sashimi – rather than trying to cover the whole cuisine. When restauranteurs collaborate with suppliers, they can create genuine authenticity when it comes to street food styles and flavours – something the next generation of diners, influencers and
tastemakers are all looking for. At The Flava People, we work with some of the best street food superstars around, including The Rib Man, producing sauces to marinade dishes such as ribs and pulled pork.

SIMON CROCKFORD Executive Restaurant Chef, Celtic Manor
Street food has become increasingly popular on a lot of our restaurant menus throughout the resort, as well as providing inspiration for our new Celtic at Home takeaway menus, from vegan tacos, Asian baos and breakfast burritos, to Sri Lankan curries. Traditionally cooked from fresh and assembled in front of you, street food dining is usually a much quicker process than a normal sit-down meal and therefore cuts down on waiting
times. The food quality that can be achieved in a street food van or take away gives chefs a real energy to perfect the flavours as the menus are often smaller.

RYAN KING Editor-in-Chief, Fine Dining Lovers
Street food hits all the rights notes right now, it’s usually great
for transporting, always strong on flavour and it’s comforting – which is what people want. That’s why some of the world’s best chefs have been using it as inspiration to create new takeout and delivery options. Some
examples from the States can inspire us in the UK; Canlis, the legendary Seattle restaurant was one of the first to look to street food with a curb-side burger drive-thru and the star team at Momofuku KO in New York started a delivery and pick up menu that falls on one of the oldest street foods in the world, crepes. Momofuku upped the game too with sourdough crepes topped with all sorts of delicious luxuries such as caviar and creme fraiche.

RICK PANESAR Founder, 2 Fingers
Over the years, the burgeoning street food scene has opened us up to trying/
sampling new tastes and cuisines from around the world, at a price point that’s right, without having to commit to a full-on restaurant dining experience. For many BAME cultures, food can simultaneously be a source of pride and shame. Many still have a warped view of global cuisines through the lens of an anglicised takeout, devaluing the time-honoured craft, traditions and heritage behind it. With that in mind, the (hospitality) sector as a whole, can look towards these trends and introduce new dishes such as daal and channa to their menus along with cooking techniques to inspire, educate and nourish people.