Why has street food become so popular? 

According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, more than 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.It has become incredibly popular for many reasons. Whether it’s the feel-good factor demonstrated through the theatre it provides, its value for money, or the fact that you can pack menus with flavours from all over the world, consumers have flocked to street food vendors to enjoy some varied and delicious dishes.

How do you get street food onto your menus?

We use street food in lots of different ways. The diversity and beautiful simplicity of the food makes it very mobile and helps us roll-out themed concepts across our business very smoothly.

We will often introduce seasonal concepts and tailor them specifically for each individual site. For example, where our clients are based in areas with thriving streetfood markets such as Camden, we really have to stand out to compete so we will introduce more diverse options such as oxtail cheese sandwiches or duck egg shaksuka. There is, of course, always demand for more established street food menus which include pulled pork, shawarma and ramen dishes.

We will always work with our chefs, our clients and our customers to introduce options that are appropriate to them.

What affect has it had on the world of contract catering?

Given its broad appeal, it has really helped to develop menus and offerings. The speed at which new concepts are introduced often makes it quite a challenge! It has really kept caterers on their toes and meant that we are constantly introducing new and novel ideas to our customers.

Given that it is relatively inexpensive to set up a streetfood stall, it has made competition for the lunchtime spend even stronger. Consequently, caterers have had to be more flexible with their approach to ensure that they keep up.

Our chefs are also constantly looking at new concepts which means we can actually drive trends as well as follow them. For example, this year, we launched a number of middle-eastern concepts as well as pie and mash to a delicious fried-chicken stall.

These have been hugely popular and have their own cult following from customers who sometimes demand it on a daily basis!

How should it be presented in a B&I site (both how you serve it and branding here)?

At bartlett mitchell we are fortunate to have the marketing team who support us with all relevant materials, from banners to table talkers to bespoke menu templates, to digital advertisements.

Most of our sites use a market stall for our street food offering and we like to tailor how we present them at different locations. Its always a good opportunity for us to express some of the personality of our teams and have a bit of fun with them. For example, we turned one of our sites into a Moroccan souk, serving an authentic tagine. This was incredibly popular with our customers and our team!

We will often make sure that our chefs are an integral part of the theatre as it always creates a buzz in our restaurants.

What’s next in the world of street food?

The Michelin guide just awarded a street food vendor in Singapore with a star. Street food is now very much part of the mainstream and I’m sure we are only going to see this develop even further. Whether it’s through different and more diverse cuisines hitting the market, or even the way in which we can make it more immersive and add to the experience, it is going to be an interesting time in the streetfood world.


This article appears in b&i catering magazine and the full article can be read here

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