Every Saturday, whilst the rest of the world enjoys their lie in, I am up at 5am, helping my other half load his van and heading down to sell his food from whichever market he is popping up at that week. Over the last year we have really noticed an explosion in the street food scene and whilst traditionally a food market was a place to go and get some tasty treats, it is now evolving into a whole new movement that is combining food, drink and music, offering a festival type of experience. These food festivals are happening in transformed car parks, breweries, warehouses, even old tube stations and this shift is attracting a younger demographic to the scene, expecting good quality, traceable food.
This shift has resulted in operatives having to streamline their offering to simpler, hold in one hand dishes that are packed full of flavour and push the boundaries with taste combinations. However, this stream down of selections is being done more so through necessity, as simplicity offers speed which is important to consumers, who continue to redefine the acceptable amount of time between ordering and eating.
Where to go
Unlike conventional food markets these events are rarely advertised in the local newspapers, but spread their music and food glory through tweetups. With food from most corners of the globe, expect new culinary experiences, locally brewed beers and in some instances live DJ’s. Dalston Yard in East London is home to Street Feast, the pioneering night market that was launched in 2012. There is also Urban Street Food Fest that is held over the summer in a Shoreditch car park. In South London you can grab anything from a roti to a pizza in Brixton’s night market and there is soon to be similar offering open in the disused model market in Lewisham. This will be popping up over the summer and offering DJ’s on turn tables, locally brewed beer, street traders and a dance floor!
These street food fests are also offering vendors, large and small; the opportunities to build their brand and many have used it as a route to market. In the real heights of the street food scene last year, we saw many restaurant owners downsize and turn their hand to a mobile alternative. However this has seen a complete seismic shift and now many vendors are evolving their stalls and food trucks into static pop-up concepts. This is best demonstrated by increasingly popular MEATliquor which started life as a burger trailer, then seeded at festivals, before moving to a residency on top a pub in New Cross and finally opened a chain of venues across London and Brighton. The residency pop-up is one to watch and vendors are taking advantage of lower cost short lease, no premiums upon entrance and are using short term spaces to build their brand and create a following.
By Karen Alleyne, Communications Manager