How To Start A Street Food Business

A short guide to starting and running a street food business.

For the whole messy story I’d recommend starting at the beginning; for posts that are specifically for startups you might want to read some street food theory, or buy the book, but here are some common problems and advice for starting a street food business in the new era of catering.

Buy the book!

We have written a book which covers starting out in street food in detail, with more info on every one of the topics below.

Either buy direct from Amazon or visit our dedicated book page for more details.

street food soliloquy book cover

Starting Up A Street Food Business

What is Street Food?
Which licences, permits and paperwork do I need?
What should I serve?
Should I serve burgers?
What kind of setup should I use?
Can I use my kitchen at home?
Do I cook on gas or electric?
Should I join NCASS?

Trading

When should I start?
Where should I trade?
Where can I get advice from?
How do I apply for pitches?
How do I know this fair/festival/market will be any good?
How many units should I take to this event?
Where do I find places to trade?
Should I serve hot drinks?
Do I need to provide seating?

Establishing Your Business

How do I stop people ripping off my idea?
Do I need a website and social media?
Does it work for couples?
Do I need an accountant? Street food businesses at Stratford River Festival

What is Street Food?

We should probably cover this first. Street Food is the new way to eat gourmet dishes without paying the earth. It’s a bunch of passionate, motivated owner-operators who have a product they love and create it right there in front of you using local, high quality ingredients. The people you are buying the food from are the chefs, the owners, the drivers, the marketers, the buyers and the servers of the meal you’re eating. It’s artisan cooking at it’s most direct. This distinguishes it from more established cousins festival caterers (larger units, often many units owned by one company, mainly large festivals) and mobile caterers (think markets and car boot sales, selling straight forward food) although there is a lot of crossover, and you will find us all hanging out together when it’s raining.

Which licences, permits and paperwork do I need?

Set up as a sole trader or a limited company. Then you need to register a food business with your local authority. They will get the Environmental Health on your case and ultimately get you a Food Hygiene rating. That’s the only licence you need, but you will need some other paperwork before you can serve the eager masses: Public liability insurance is a must, a gas safe certificate (if you’re using gas) and a PAT Test certificate if you’re using electricity. Get all of these scanned onto your computer and ready to attach to applications and all you need are some events to attend. Personally you need a food hygiene certificate, which can be done online and costs about £30. This proves you know what hand-washing is, for which we are all very grateful. At some festivals you will also need to submit your Risk Assessment, Method Statement, HACCPs and a whole variety of other documents. Do these well once and all you need to do is review them periodically. NCASS members get customisable versions as part of their membership, or check out the book for a detailed break down of what they actually are. 

What should I serve?

Good question. The food you serve needs to make you money, so while something rare and ambitious would be amazing, people won’t buy it. They just won’t. Not even that awesome crowd of really hip foodies over there. You know why? Because they’re having a dirty burger from the trader next door, which is just as hip and they already know tastes good. I’m not saying it can’t work. It absolutely can because there is a niche market for exciting street food, but it’s just that: A small gap.

No, hang on. You need to serve the thing you got into street food knowing you wanted to sell. The thing you’re all passionate and giggly about. You need to try that, but with an open mind and a business head that can identify the difference between the next big thing and the thing that just isn’t going to work, not in this life or any other.

Still not true. You need to be practical. It’s all about the passion, but if it takes you 45 minutes to make each portion you won’t make money. It’s also a lot about money. In the end, running a street food business is about picking a cuisine/foodstuff/dish rolling with it. I would recommend you pick one thing, and make it better than anyone else does. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it will keep your costs down and make your brand clearer.

Should I serve burgers?

Is there already someone doing a killer burger near you? Do you make an amazing burger? Would you mind eating nothing but burgers for a whole weekend? If you answered no/yes/no: Do it. Any other combination of answers and I would at least consider something else first. The reason for this is because no one is going to book two burger stalls when they could have a burger stall and something else. It will also take a whole lot more to stand out, but if your burger is the best burger there is, then you will wipe the floor with all other food vendors.

What kind of setup should I use?

Street food isn’t just about the meal; the people who give you pitches won’t have tasted your food. They will be looking for quirky vendors to enhance their festival/fair/show. I’m biased towards a truck, but here are your options:

Gazebo

The gazebo has merits. It’s the cheapest to get started, requires no insurance (other than standard public liability), always starts and won’t fall apart on the motorway. Most catering pitches are standardised to your regular 3m x 3m marquee so you also won’t be paying over the odds. You are at eye-level with the customer, which is an added bonus.

Food Truck

Arrive, open hatch, serve. We can be the last people to arrive and still start trading first. In the winter we will be deliciously warm compared to the stalls, even if it can get a bit hot in summer (Pro tip: paint the roof a light colour). Food vans are also rarer, so you and your unit will stand out, especially if you have a ravishing paint job. Before you rush off to buy one a word of warning: Food vans, old ones especially, go wrong. Humorously, continuously wrong. You may also end up paying for dead space if your pitch is measured by length, as you won’t be serving from the cab. However, anecdotal evidence suggests they would be the superior choice in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Trailer

In many ways this is the best of both worlds. Practical but compact, without the overheads of a van, although a well kitted out trailer will still set you back thousands. Even with an amazing paint job trailers don’t have any of the iconic vehicle status that you get from a classic VW or Citroen, and they can still break down. I’ve heard some things, man. They are also not trucks. I love your optimism, but unless it has an engine, it’s a trailer.

Can I use my kitchen at home?

The short answer is yes, assuming your kitchen at home is not health hazard. If it is then you’d do us all a favour by renting someone’s commercial kitchen while they’re not using it, or choosing a food that doesn’t require any off-site prep. You will need to have it inspected by your local environmental health department. Contact them for details and make sure it is spotlessly clean whenever they come near your house. As a bare minimum you will need a separate handwash sink, colour-coded chopping boards, proof that animals and children don’t sneeze/sick/cat on your surfaces and a cleaning rota for when you are using it for prep.

Do I cook on gas or electric?

This will be your first mayor decision once you have bought your unit. The short version: electric is cheap to set up but expensive to run. Gas is expensive to setup but much, much cheaper to run. So it depends on what sort of budget you have starting out, and what kind of costs you want to deal with later. For a closer look at the debate I would recommend this post right here.

Should I join NCASS?

NCASS are a bunch of down to earth guys who love a bit of proper independent street food. They also provide loads of resources and free training, as well us a neat little texting service for local events. If you have never worked in the food industry they are the best way to get legal and certified. It’s worth joining in your first year just for this.

Trading

When should I start?

This is not something we get asked, but it is something you need to know. All of the big pitches that you want to trade at over the summer are handed out in spring, and applied for starting in the New Year. You need to be ready and funded to do these applications and pay deposits if you want to do music festivals. Smaller fairs, markets and certain speciality festivals can be applied for throughout the year, but the big guns will be done and dusted by April.

Glastonbury, the Oxbridge of festivals, runs trade applications even earlier, and has hundreds of applicants for every pitch.

Where should I trade?

Customers queuing for dinner at the Digbeth Dining Club The answer is: Where ever you like; and increasingly as more food vendors hit the pavement, wherever you can. These are the kind of places you should look at:

Music Festivals

High up-front costs, but music festivals have the potential for huge takings over the weekend, especially as you have the rare opportunity to get to know your customers (albeit in their most least sober state) and can benefit from repeat custom. The customer/trader ratio is key here: too many traders and you will lose out. The festival might tell you this information up front, but ticket sales, recessions and the weather can screw all that up in a matter of weeks and your huge up front pitch payment might suddenly vanish. Having said that, music festivals are far less reliant on the weather than any other outdoor event you will visit. Personally, I love music festivals and the camaraderie amongst the traders is brilliant. Just be prepared for 18 hour days and not really sleeping.

Markets (weekly)

Town markets are a good regular source of income, and provide midweek trade as well as a coveted regular pitch, first amongst the street food trophies. Note that customer-spend will be significantly lower here as people are not there to sup on your delicious food, but to nab a bargain.

Markets (speciality)

Farmers markets or speciality markets are probably more suited to street food, because they attract foodies over bargain hunters and have a higher spend per head. Unfortunately these markets are usually a single day at the weekend, meaning you will spend more time looking for them, and the potential takings are low compared to even a small festival.

Food Festivals (Paid)

I would approach paid food festivals with a healthy dose of common sense. Asking people to pay to go and pay for more food is a cunning business plan, and there are people out there who do pay. People will usually buy tickets for these events on the day, meaning that if it rains the place will be dead. On the other had a well established food festival can attract a fantastic crowd of food lovers keen to try something new, but again be careful of a bad ratio of traders to customers and be fearful of free food being handed out right next to your pitch.

Food Festivals (Free)

These guys have to make all their money from the traders, so expect a lot of competition, along with all the free samples. Visitor numbers will usually be much higher, because passing trade will get involved, but as with the paid for food festival, the moment it rains you’re done for the day. Additionally you will watch as everyone flocks to the hog roast. You will hate them for having it so easy.

County Shows

The show grounds usually organise their own catering. I honestly can’t tell you what they’re like as we’ve never done one.

Street Food Collectives

If you are within spitting distance of a major city then they will usually have at least one collective. Meet other traders, people who are keen to experience street food and share stories with like-minded folks. Getting on board with one of these groups is a whole bunch of good. In the Midlands there is our collective, Scoff, and our local award winning street food event, Digbeth Dining Club, amongst others. These intrepid food lovers will be much more open to trying something new and experimental, although you will still watch the burger queue with envy sometimes. Unless you’re selling burgers.

Where can I get advice from?

You’ve found our blog; as far as I know we are currently the most comprehensive resource out there. We have also written a book which brings everything together in a usable way and covers the useful start up topics in much more detail. I’ve covered almost every topic I can think of at some point, so I’d recommend starting with the that and seeing how far it gets you.

If you still have questions try the search bar at the top of this page. If by some freak accident you can’t find it there then ask your question in the comments, I’ll either answer you directly or do a post about it in the next few weeks or both. If you are already up and running then other street food traders or general traders are often ready to chat on a quiet day, especially if you open by offering them a cup of tea (having this ability is one of the sweet, sweet saviours of a rainy day, just so you know).

How do I apply for pitches?

Almost every place to trade will have a slightly different method for applications. Bigger festivals will have online applications forms, most markets are managed by a company whom you will need to develop a working relationship with and smaller festivals will usually be .pdf forms to fill in and post back. You will need electronic copies of your liability insurance, food hygiene rating, gas safety check and PAT test if you have electrics on board. It’s worth also working out who you are and what you do, so that you can confidently sell yourself in an email if the occasion arises.

How do I know if this festival/fair/market is a good place to trade?

Mostly by going there and trading. Asking other traders is useful, as strictly off the record we will be more than happy to tell you if it sucked. But then again one person’s anecdotal story of a festival could be wildly different from another, as within the festival there is always the problem of getting a good pitch. If you can visit before hand and have a look round that will give you a good idea, but your location within the festival will make all the difference. I recommend that you expect to wind up finding out the hard way some times.

How many units should I take to an event?

Once you know the answer to this I believe you win Street Food and we all get together to hold a little ceremony in your honour. The simple answer is: Enough to make the money you want to make. Less than that and you might as well not take the event, more than that and there will be loads left over. Here is some more detailed info about how many portions to take.

Where do I find places to trade?

Start with the internet. Work out how far you are willing to travel, and what sort of thing you’re looking for. Then spend literally hours digging through google picking over long forgotten websites and the wretched husks of neglected domains trying to find events. This is a long process, but there really isn’t an easy fix. If you already have some events in mind get those first, and start making a list. While we’re on the topic: A piece of trader-to-trader etiquette, never spoken, but always observed. Don’t ask to see someone else’s event list. We get asked from time to time by people just starting out, and I totally understand why you would, but we don’t share the list.

Should I serve hot drinks?

Yes. You will need to have hot water to comply with health and safety regs, so get a tea urn. Not only is health and safety now happy, you also have tea. Apart from keeping you sane, as tea always does, it’s also a tidy little earner and nice and warm in the winter. As an added bonus it’s the perfect way to keep your trading neighbours sweet if they don’t have tea facilities. Make sure you mention it on trade applications. Otherwise the organisers might pop you next to a dedicated tea/coffee stall, and no one will be delighted.

Do I need to provide seating?

This depends on where you trade. At large music festivals and food festivals seating will often be available, but at markets and small festivals, especially quiet ones, seating can make a huge difference for two reasons: 1. People make their choice about food based on several factors, and one of them is sitting and eating. Especially at a festival where seating is scarce, your chairs will be prime real estate. 2. It makes you look busier, because it keeps customers outside your unit for longer. A busy food vendor, the thought train goes, tastes better than a quiet one. More in depth info can be found here.

Establishing Your Business

How do I stop people ripping off my idea?

Yeah, this is a tough one. You cannot prevent people from cooking the same food as you. You cannot stop them doing it the same way you do unless the method you use is a patented invention of your own. In most cases you will even find that some other idiot has already thought of your brilliant brand name and has registered the domain, twitter and facebook, then isn’t even using it. So you need to be the first (in your area) the best, and the most nicest. Do register the facebook, twitter and webdomain as soon as you can, because these days that is pretty much all the guarantee you need. Oh, and it’s worth checking the Intellectual Property Office to make sure your grand idea hasn’t already been taken. Once you’re all clear on that front, you can decide later if you would like it to be a registered trademark or not. For the time being, just get yourself out there. Oh, and don’t be that guy who rips off other people’s methods. This is your dream, do it your way.

Do I need a website and social media?

Yes. I mean have you looked out the window recently? No neither has anyone else – we’re all online watching it streamed live. So yes, everyone needs a website these days. But not urgently. While you probably won’t lose a pitch you have applied for as long as the application is up to scratch, you won’t be getting any extra business from other sources. That being said, not many street food businesses have websites, so you won’t be alone. Social Media, on the other hand, is free to set up, takes only minimal web knowledge and at least gives you something to point potential events at. Make a Facebook page, put some pictures up, fill in the about section and ask your mates to like it. Then set up twitter, follow some of the big voices in street food and you have all the resources you need for asking questions. (I’d recommend your local street food collective, local events that you would like to join, local food producers, other street food folks in your area and @jabberwockyfood).

Does it work for couples?

Barny and I have been together for like, ages now. Since incorporating the Jabberwocky he has also proposed and we have got married. For us, it works. For you? There’s only one way to find out. We do argue. When the day is going badly and you’re not going to break-even it’s really hard to find anything nice to say about the other person. In fact it’s pretty hard not to brain them with a colour-coded chopping board (Red). But on the other hand, when the day is going well; you can see your future together unfolding hand in hand with street food. Every customer is a sparkling happiness fairy and your partner is the god of toasties.

Rule of Thumb: if you feel like you’re stifling each other after spending two hours together on a quiet Sunday afternoon then I’d give this particular venture a miss. It’ll all end in tears. And blood.

Do I need an accountant?

It depends on what kind of street food business you are running. If you have a limited company like us, then yes, for the love of all that is cheesy get an accountant. You have better things to do with your time than paperwork. Check with a few, negotiate how much you are going to pay and then hand them your bookkeeping and watch the magic happen.

If you are a sole trader the paperwork is all self-assessment and can be done online. I’d still recommend consulting someone in the know, as the fines can be quite hefty, but once you have done it for the first time it’s reasonably manageable.

Have we missed anything? Ask us in the comments, and please spread the word with a share or read on…

If you are hungry for more street food brain-fodder, you probably want to buy the book on Amazon. We also use Amazon Affiliates, so any purchases you make after following that link will dribble a tiny referral fee back to us, which helps to keep the website going. If what you have read has been truly helpful then clicking through and bookmarking this link as your Amazon page would be very kind, and costs you absolutely nothing.

While we love hearing from you, please understand that we won’t answer questions about setting up via email (or facebook/twitter message), as we want the information to be available publicly – post below and we will get back to you whenever we can!

Flic Luxmoore, Director, curator and chronicler of the Jabberwocky. Purveyor of Street Food, specifically toasties, and alfresco dining enthusiast.
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  • Jess

    What kind of licence did you apply for to trade? I’ve been having a look round and confused whether you have to apply for a licence every time you trade in a new area? For example, in Cambridge one week and then birmingham the next. Would you have to apply for a licence to both councils?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You only need to register once with your local council (Google “Register a food business [your local council]).

      They will then accept your application and then begin the process of sending the EHO out to inspect your premises or unit. The EHO will give you a rating based on the new five star system. This certificate is what you then submit when applying to festivals in all areas. They will usually also ask which council you are registered with, and can then make enquiries about your business with the Environmental Health department in your area.

      I hope that helps – thanks for the excellent question and please let me know if you have any follow up questions!

      • jess

        Thanks for your really helpful reply! I had been searching everywhere! I’m actually based in Birmingham and the council seem to want to know the actual pitch you intend to trade from. So will have to double check how to go about things if i’m just looking to do the odd events and festivals rather than a pitch in the city centre etc. On another note, I just wanted to say i’ve really been enjoying reading your blog. You have a lovely way of story telling! 🙂

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          I think you’re looking at street trading consent, which is the next step if you want to do street food full time and does mean you need to find and get approval for a fixed location. You need to tell them about your business for starters, which is you should be able to get out of a quick google of the search term above with Birmingham tacked on as your local council.

          So glad the blog is actually readable, it’s really kind of you to say so and very much appreciated! 🙂

          • Ocsy Róka Koma

            Hi!

            I have the same question, with some extra twist…

            I living in Nottingham, my friend lives in London.
            When we apply at the “local authority” than which one we have to apply?

            London, or Nottingham?

  • Lauren

    LOVE this site thanks loads of great advice, you have just answered some of my most worrying questions!!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Brilliant, glad to hear it! Thank you very much for saying so 🙂

  • Sarah

    hello
    you’re article was really good, do you need any kind of degree or gcses for this and im only 16 ( I have a really good idea), how old is the legal age, can i get funded and if i cant, how much does this averagely cost to set up myself, can i do it on local streets.
    it would be such a big help if you could answer them, thank you in advance (uve answered alot of questions)

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      No qualifications, examinations or tests required! Street fooders come from all walks of life, but you are starting a company, and running a business. Being able to cook a great product is important, but managing money, marketing your business and coping with unexpected problems are just as much part of the trade.

      The age at which you can apply for a license varies from council to council, so you will have to check locally (see my comment to Jess below for how) but you can get a very basic, legal setup together for less than a thousand pounds, depending on what you plan to sell. There are grants out there, but again these will vary between councils, so you will need to do your homework to find out what’s available near you.

      Have a look at “consent streets” and “licensed streets” for places where you can trade – but my advice is to concentrate on markets and fairs, those are the places where you will find people who want to buy your food.

      Best of luck with it!

      • Pasta Al Fresco

        But you do need your food handling certificates, without those you won’t get a good hygiene rating, you need a 5*. It’s an on-line multiple choice exam, and mainly common sense.

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          good point, missed that out. I’m on it 🙂

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  • Jay

    Hi this is been very helpful thank you. Just want to ask if using a gazebo exactly what equipment etc do you think I will need I.e if running a Caribbean food stool, do we cook the food prior and just run with bay Marie’s or…………..??

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You have two choices with Caribbean food, you either BBQ on site or you cook in advance and reheat there. With the BBQ you get the spectacle of cooking, plus the smell, both of which will draw crowds, but – and I’ve seen this go pear-shaped in the past, it produces a lot of smoke.

      On one occasion a stall had to pack up and leave there was so much – they were engulfing everything else, and on another they had to more midway through the day.

      If you are reheating or hot-holding it’s worth investing in a decent bain marie, as the EHO will make a beeline for it with a temperature probe to make sure the food is safe. And you will also need a way of getting it up to temperature first (so a hob or similar) if you don’t have a BBQ.

      Hope that helps!

      • J

        Yes this helps thank you very much 🙂

  • FreshSarra

    Love your blog – funny, informative and addictive! Thanks. I have just bought an old Bedford to take deliciously healthy smoothies and snacks (and maybe more) to the streets and am in a whole world of unknown! I noticed you said about a boiler. Can I just have an urn for hot water for EHO and tea etc? Also looking at generators what fuel type do you use? Am concerned I won´t be able to get enough power without having to have either a huge noisy generator or loads of massive gas bottles with just little ol me to lug them in and out. Thanks for any wisdom and insight 🙂

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Sarra! Thanks very much for reading! By boiler I mean urn, so the hot water from that can then be transferred to an insulated handwash unit – tick on hand wash facilities – used for washing up, another tick, and used to serve tea and coffee, which is great additional income at very little extra cost.

      Generally speaking, you want to use as little electricity as you can possibly get away with. It’s really expensive compared to gas, especially at big festivals where you can’t bring a generator and have to pay for a hookup. Gas is comparatively cheap (especially for things like boiling water) and you will get used to dragging the bottles round fairly quickly.

      We run everything we can off gas, so only need a tiny 1kw generator to keep the fridge cool and power the lights, and we can do without both at a push (cold packs in the fridge). Two 19kg gas bottles is all you need to carry, one on and one spare, and they are still just about manageable.

      A lot of councils are terrified of petrol generators and only allow diesel or LPG converted ones, which can be done with a kit from a petrol genny. Also any generator above 2kw starts getting pretty heavy as well if you’re moving it around.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with it and hopefully see you soon!
      Flic

      • FreshSarra

        Thanks Flic very useful. I think my other half is gonna try and use the LPG that my van will run on to somehow fuel some of my stuff too. An inverter? Along with an extra battery fed from the engine, gas and probably a small genny then…Blimey. I´m sure it´s not as complicated as it seems. That´s not even thinking about the water situation or how many smoothies I need to prepare myself to make! Wish I didn´t need to deal with ice though as that seems to be my nemesis re power/freezer…Worse than my juicy blenders:( Thanks again. Now I must stop reading your blog and get back to work. PS: Would love to try that veganised Club Med, sounds delish!

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          If you can store everything in your van ready to go then that’s definitely preferable! Probably worth making sure that you won’t later get screwed over in a gas safe test though – I don’t now the ins and out of using the same fuel for engine and cooking, so it would be worth checking before you get too invested. Also if you do run out of gas at an event you can’t get home – just a thought!

          There are people who do smoothies out there and make it work, and you can always get a personal license and do boozy smoothies as well 🙂

          I hope it works out, see you for a houmous Club Med soon!

          • FreshSarra

            ha ha Boozy Smoothies are def on my radar!! Thanks again for all your help 🙂

  • Gabriel

    Thank you sooo much for every information provided. It will be very helpful for me and my brother in our journey. God bless you!

  • MagicMeat

    Glad I found this!! Just starting out with a gourmet Cornish burger stall and no previous experience at all .

  • Amber

    Hi guys! Thank you for creating such a helpful blog! I am about to start trading, at my first market on the 19th July…! I am running off of electric, meaning that I will have to pay the extra at festivals/events. I will be using a Bain Marie and a cast iron electric griddle. I will be taking all my equipment in a trailer/car boot, and I was wondering…at the end of the day when I’m ready to pack up, how would I go about packing away the griddle, which I would expect may still be warm as it cools down. Just wondering whether there is a magic method you have heard of!! Thank you in advance 🙂

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Amber and welcome to street food! I hope your first event goes smoothly, you must be excited!
      So in terms of getting your equipment cool for transport there isn’t a magic formula I’m afraid, other than to find a spot where it can fit into your trailer or car right at the end.
      You basically have to “Call it” at some point, and switch off. At that point you accept that, even if you have just stood idle for the last 30mins, someone is about to want your food.
      Then clear away everything else and hopefully, by the time you’re ready to leave the grill will be cool enough to move. In winter this won’t be an issue, but in summer it will take quite a while. Invest in a sturdy pair of oven gloves and a silicone mat if you’re planning on getting out sooner, but your best bet it to arrange your pack up so that the hot things go in last.
      Good luck with it and thanks for your question!

  • Chefjimmysals

    Hi all, I a m a chef with 20 years experience currently working as head chef for a very successful outside catering company, after travelling around South America marrying a venezualan chica and sampling some delicious food ! I have decided that the world needs arepa, a fantastic venezualan/ Colombian street food that has so many variations and flavours I couldn’t begin to list them! I have the necessary equipment, insurance, passion and staff at hand and just need some advice as to how to get a foot in the door.
    I know a few people offering arepa but it’s untapped compaired to other street food but equally delicious with fresh flavours new to most pallets!
    Any advice would be appreciated!!

    Chefjimmysals

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Your best bet is food festivals. They have a lot of street food, granted, but this also means they have to find a lot as well, so will often give newbies a chance. Other than that check out “how to find places to trade” above, visit some of your local street food markets and chat to the organisers and keep your ear to the ground for local events.

      Good luck with it!

  • Tim

    Hi guys, wondered if you knew as trying to set something up a couple of months down line with partner but wanting to reserve company/brand name. What is the correct process. Getting confused from all that i am reading.
    Thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey hey hey! Excellent relevant picture.

      Protecting your name and brand is a complicated business if you’re going to do it properly, because it means registering your name as a trademark.

      When first starting out it’s not really worth the effort, because although this is your precious baby, the rest of the world isn’t really bothered. But there are a few cheap things you can do to make sure that to all intents and purposes, the name is yours:
      -Register the domain; http://www.yourbrandname.co.uk or as close to that as you can get. Only costs a few quid.
      -Get the twitter and the facebooks for the name, because that’s totally free.
      -Register the limited company with company’s house. This does actually guarantee a certain level of uniqueness, because all limited companies have to have unique names, but there is no requirement that you trade under that name. I can’t remember how much this cost, it was probably less than £100 and you do not have to start trading straight away.
      -Start posting content online so that google associates YourBrand with your chosen food, and then when someone else comes along with the same idea they will find you and realise they’re too late.

      If your business does take off then you can always trademark it up further down the line. I hope that helps! Good luck with it!

  • Felix

    Just found this website, great advice!
    I was wondering if you could answer a couple of questions I had:
    – Could you give a very rough ballpark figure of startup capital needed for a tent/gazebo? (including all the things needed for licensing etc.)?
    – Is it possible to start a stall anywhere or do local councils have set sites?

    Thanks a lot!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Glad it’s useful!

      In terms of spend, you can pretty much out in as much as you have. This will be a money sink for the first few months as you work out exactly what kit you need. But having done the maths you can (just about) get a legal gazebo setup in under £1000 if you use second hand equipment and shop around for the best deals. Ideally you want to have at least twice that for a basic setup and plan to invest more over the following months.

      -It’s down to you to find places to trade. If you are looking at street trading then you should do some research on ‘Licensed Streets’, ‘Consent Streets’ and ‘Prohibited Streets’ for more details and to see what’s near you.

      Good luck with it!

  • Paul Lackie

    Thank you for all the info, fantastic blog,

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Thank you for reading 🙂

  • Linda Peel

    Hi wondered if you could offer some advice please? I am going to be starting a business soon, I have my food hygiene cert and public liability insurance in place. My business is selling homemade cakes and afternoon teas, using a vintage folding camper as a prop with tables in front and a gazebo over for a preparation area, the camper has a sink in and I also have a teal handwash so will have two sinks. will I need to get the camper approved by environmental health as i wont be preparing food in there or just my kitchen at home where I will be baking the cakes etc or both?

  • Ang

    Hello! Thank you so much for all the info, very insightful & useful!
    I was wondering if you could offer some advice, & I know it’s a silly question as there are so many variables & I guess the only way to find out is to just do it! But my partner & I are planning on setting up a vegetarian food stall (probably catering trailer) for next summer, we have made a few contacts that organise small festivals & so are hoping to secure pitches at their events along with others. We believe we have a unique product & are hoping to do around 10 small events over the summer and have no idea on the possible takings or profits, if any!
    We are hoping to save enough through the summer to go travelling for a few months but are dubious as to how much money we will actually make. Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Ang!

      Thanks very much for reading 🙂

      You have pretty much asked the million pound question right there, and I’m afraid I can’t give you a useful number because there are so many variables: What your unit looks like, where you are placed in the festival, how popular your food is, what the weather is like, whether the festivals are good or bad, how much you paid in pitch fees, how many portions you take, how many days the festivals run for, how fast you can serve each portion, whether you will be working full time around that and probably half a million other things.

      Howsabout this: Look at it the other way round. Work out how much you need to earn for this to be worthwhile, then divide that between your events. That should give you a goal for each event, and if you exceed that it’s money in the bank. This post might be useful: http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/blog/2013/08/07/how-many-portions-do-i-take/

      Good luck with it!

  • Lara

    I am at the early stages of setting up a mobile coffee business and I am wondered if I could ask you a few questions about your operation? I hope you don’t mind and don’t think i’m being too cheeky for asking! I’m just trying to work out the viability of the business and try to pull some figures together.

    When you attend markets and festivals, what is the average audience that you manage to capture? What would you say that your average customer spends?

    What are your average monthly overheads before you have even begun to trade?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Thanks for getting in touch! We don’t share numbers as so much of our business information is already out there for people to draw upon, but to be honest they will be very little use to you any way.

      As a coffee seller you will be going for a totally different model: low ingredient costs but a high profit margin. As a hot food seller we have moderate ingredient costs and a moderate profit margin to match.

      Your best bet is to work out what you would charge per unit and then calculate your own costs. This will probably mean you can’t accurately do the maths until you get out there and start trading, but once you have done a few events, as long as you have records of units shifted (I’d do it by counting your cups afterwards) you should be able to cost accurately. There is lots on the blog about portions and sales – this might be useful.

      People do make money out of coffee, but it is probably one of the harder types of street food as you have more competition than any of the rest of us.

  • Louie Rudge

    How do you find competing with the burger vans, hog roast and all the other types of common street food. I’m trying to start my own company at the moment. (i facebooked you yesterday) my head is telling me, do burgers and make them the best out there but my heart tells me do something different. mix it up. i love the idea of gourmet toasties and being ‘so very english’ i feel my love for good Tea needs to be shared with the world. rather then being the last thing on a list of different coffees. do you find that you have narrowed your market to a point that its difficult to succeed. Or do you see this as a positive step in the right direction. I would imagine that its easier to get a pitch if your not ‘yet another burger van’

    also very helpful blog, i have just spent the last few hours reading your posts 🙂

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Louie,
      Good question! In the broad sense, you are competing with the burger folks, but actually, you’re not. There is a hierarchy of street food, so burgers, pulled pork and sausages will almost always sell best. Just an aside: These are also some of the most expensive foods to produce really well.

      If you do burgers, you will be competing with the nearest person doing burgers. If you do pulled pork, you compete with the other folks doing pulled pork. People at street food events are not going to eat 3 burgers, they will eat a burger and two other things. While the burger will outsell everything else, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should all serve burgers.

      Look at what other foods are in your area before you settle on your food of choice; you will be competing with the folks doing the same food, rather than with all the street food vendors. If you can, find a gap and fill that.

      I would always recommend picking one food only. Some people can make various specialities work, but you want to become known for doing one thing amazingly, rather than 3 things that are all fine.

  • lolaswingsuk

    Hi Jabberwocky! Just wondering if you could help us out by answering a question.. We are in our first year as a business and in the midst of gathering applications and sending them out. However, for many of the festival applications we have not been able to find prices or if we do find prices, no where that says what percentage will be due when, etc. Just wondering if you could give us some insight on what seems to be the case in your experience? what percentage a deposit usually is? obviously there is a massive variety of festivals out there and it will vary, but any sort of guidance will help. We are trying to avoid applying to festivals that will be completely out of our reach, but difficult to find out when they don’t lists costs on the applications!!
    Cheers
    Lola’s Wings x

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Lola! Good question 🙂
      Festivals do range from £500 for the whole weekend right up to thousands of pounds, so there is no “right” price for them. The pitch fee is an indication of how much you can make over the weekend, but will often be based on a rather hopeful estimate by the organiser. They are, after all, a business just like you, and they are trying to make as much money as they can.

      If you can’t find a price it’s because everyone will be paying a different amount depending on how much frontage they have, what they are selling and where they are in the festival, it’s pretty standard for the biggest ones. Expect 3m of frontage to be so small as to go unnoticed next to the big guys, and for it to still start at £1000 for the weekend. It’s then up to you if you want to haggle (which is often but not always possible) or jump in and take the risk.

      Deposits are bit of a dirty word for festival organisers. You will probably need to pay at least 50%, usually all of it, straight away. Some will let you stagger it a little, again it varies between the shape and size of where you are applying.

      I’d say go for all the festivals you fancy. If you end up in the exquisite position of having two festivals offer you the same weekend you can pick further down the line. You are not bound to appear at any given location until you sign something, and many of them will reject you anyway because they are full/already have a wings person/don’t like the look of you etc etc etc.

      Scattergun approach for the win! Just make each application like a job application (ie. tailored to that event) rather than sending a crusty standard email to all of them.

      Hope that helps and best of luck!

  • Kate

    Hello Flic! Thank you for providing a very informative blog, it has been extremely helpful! My partner and I are planning on starting a catering business ready for summer 2015. We were wondering whether you could help us with a few queries we have pretty please…..

    We only have a small sum of money to start the business and so we figured that a well equipped trailer might be best for us, but we are slightly worried as I have read that ‘not all festivals accept trailers’. Do you know how accurate this comment is? We were hoping to sell our food at small-medium sized festivals, do you have any advice on how many customers per day we could expect to have depending on the total numbers at festivals? I understand that there are many different variables but is there any kind of pattern?

    Thank you very much, Kate

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Kate!

      “Not all festivals accept trailers” – I mean that many are looking for lovely buzz words like “quirky” and “characterful” and “unique” rather than the same box everyone carts around. If you are hoping to take a standard white catering trailer to a little boutique festival, you are gonna have a hard time 🙂

      Regarding portions! You want this post right here:
      http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/blog/2013/08/07/how-many-portions-do-i-take/

      Best of luck with it!

  • Roxanne

    Love your blog too, nice and very useful! I’m thinking to star selling pancakes at the festivals in Northern Ireland, but my problem that I don’t know from what I should start and how I can contact festivals organizers. I have contacted a few a half year ago and without results. So, if you can advise me how to start in Belfast and how to contact organizers, I will really appreciate!
    Best wishes,
    Roxanne

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Roxanne! Welcome to street food 🙂
      You have picked a pretty tough food to be getting started with, as most festivals will already have a pancake person or dessert offering. Not that it’s a bad choice: it’s got a great profit margin and low ingredient costs. But, and this is going to be the hard part, it’s what everyone else is doing. There is loads of competition so it’s hard to stand out.

      You’re doing it right as far as I can tell, contacting festivals local to you, but the reason you’ve had no joy is probably because they just don’t need you.

      Either try smaller events that don’t have a sweet offering or try and make your unit & food cooler somehow. Best of luck with it!

  • Jonathan

    hi Flic
    i am just starting up in the street food business and am trying to persuade my wife (the brains behind the outfit ) that giving up teaching for a career serving food is a good decision! I am making a spreadsheet of costs etc and wondered if there was a general average cost that one could add per unit which covered fuel, pitch cost (very difficult that one I realise) gas for cooking etc? i’ve got my cost so far for ingredients at 76p per unit.

    I love your website and would certainly give you an A grade for writing style, content and humour.

    kind regards

    Jonathan Hamilton-Jones

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Jonathan, I’m so sorry I lost your comment!

      As the pitch fees and travel costs vary wildly between events you’re going to struggle finding a cost per unit like that. However you can work out how long a bottle of gas will last you, and the break that down into an hourly cost, work out how much petrol you use per mile, how much you generator costs to run for an hour etc.

      With those numbers you can get a pretty good idea of exactly how much an event will cost you, remembering to add your time in as well. The problem is that your setup will be different to ours, your van will be more economical (unless you run it on caviar) and your pitch fees will probably be totally different. You can get an accurate cost on that, but only by trading, sorry!

      Also please don’t get your wife to quit her career just yet – it’s easy to start out part time, especially if one of you is doing it full time, and teaching fits round street food really well. We did it for 18 months before either of us quit.

      Good luck with it, and hopefully see you on the road 🙂

  • Kate

    hi, amazing website, thank you so much! I am putting together business plan for mobile coffee,tea, cake, soup business (maybe offer other things in time?). I want to offer it in a Citroen H Van if at all possible. How do i possibly work out how many cups of coffee i would get out of an LPG cylinder for example! Also, do you have any pointers in terms of working out how much personal, public and employers liability is likely to cost me per month? Also insurance on an old vehicle – i called one company for a ball park fig and they said between £100 and £2000 pa! Any pointers would be massively appreciated! Thank you and well done for what you have done x

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Kate, welcome to street food! Costing things like insurance and running costs are a nightmare, I don’t envy you that. Many of the costs you will only really know once you get out there and start to trade, but I’ll do what I can 🙂

      LPG will not be a big cost for you if you only run your coffee machine off it. Shop around for your gas (don’t go to a petrol station for it) and you will pay peanuts compared to other running costs. I can’t give you an exact number, (I don’t know how big your gas cylinder is – or your cups!) but it will be a lot of cups.

      Shopping around for public liability is also a good place to save. In your first year, with low turnover, you should be able to get the whole lot for £150ish per year (prices not guaranteed – I’m not an insurance broker).

      As for the van insurance, this really is something where the sky is the limit. If you have spent £30,000 on your swanky H Van conversion, you will want it insured for that much as well. If you have a dodgy transit conversion made of rust and hope then you will pay next to nothing.

      Best of luck with everything, hopefully see you on the road!

  • Paul Melbourne

    Hi Flic,
    Great blog and great to see you sharing your experience with lots of others who are just starting out, as we are about to.

    We’re starting a food stall and will initially be doing some smaller events and smaller street food markets.

    I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to get a gas safety certificate as our set up won’t be fixed in a vehicle and would be in a gazebo and therefore set up and taken down at the end of each day/event. Currently we will be using one gas bottle for our gas grill/bbq though may need to be using 2 gas bottles if we get a gas powered bain marie.

    I read online that if you just used one gas bottle and it wasn’t a fixed set up then you didn’t need a gas safety certificate but did if you needed two? I was just wondering as I was looking at an application to trade at an event near us and they said they need to see a gas safety certificate.

    Just wondering if you could offer any advice please?

    Thank you!

    Paul

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey Paul. Gas safety certificates are issued by gas safe engineers. Find one here: http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/registersearch/findbusiness.aspx (advanced search –> select catering).

      The legality on the multiple appliances to each gas bottle thing is a tricky one, I’ll let the NCASS lads explain it: http://www.streetfood.org.uk/gas-safe.html

      If your equipment is new and legal (has flame failures etc) then I believe you don’t need a certificate for the first year, but I’m not a gas safe technician, you probably want to ask them.

      I hope that helps!

      • Paul Melbourne

        Thanks Flic, that’s really useful, and doing a search for gas engineers that specialise in catering set ups, there’s one a couple of minutes walk from my house, perfect!

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          Nice!

  • Lou

    Hi, great site with really useful information. I’ve been looking at buying a van and getting it converted to have a kitchen in it. Who did your van conversion?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Our conversion was partially done by the guys who owned it before us, and finished by us. You don’t need a professional company to do it, but if this is your first outing into street food it might well be a good bet.

      Good luck with it!

  • Nina

    Hi, Great blog, Thanks for all the info, Just wanted to ask if it’s not too personal. where did you purchase your food truck from? and about how much was it. We are looking to start a smoothie van but we only have 12k for everything. Any ideas or pointers for a cheap van/trailer would be perfect. Thank You in Advance.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      We bought our van in a partly converted state. This meant that we could do the rest of the work ourselves (except gas which was done by DGM in Coventry). With 12K you should have enough for a good conversion, as long as you don’t blow to much of it on the van to begin with. Beware of H vans and VW campers they are cool but massively overpriced these days. There are lots of cool alternatives on ebay, vintage caravans are very popular these days, and Mark 3 transits are cheap but a bit ugly.

      One other thing to remember the cooler it looks and the older it is the less reliable it will be and the harder it will be to travel with it

      Happy hunting

  • Michael Palfreeman

    Hello,

    I asked you for some advice a while back and had a look at your blog which you suggested and wanted to say a huge thank you as it really was helpful to us.
    I had a quick question that I thought you might be able to answer, we are in the process of purchasing equipment and are getting a fat fryer. We wondered if you knew whether there were power limits for caterers at events such as Digbeth Dining Club and small festivals etc. The fryers we are looking at range from 6kw to 12kw. Do they have power limits at such events?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions we really appreciate it!

    Michael and Elizabeth

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Michael and Elizabeth! Glad the blog has helped 🙂
      In terms of power limits: yes. At almost all these sites you will be running off a generator, and will get charged for the amount of power you draw. At festivals there is unlikely to be an upward limit, but you will pay for each 16amp feed.

      A single basin 6k fryer will probably need a 16amp all to itself. By comparison this would be enough to run our entire setup (lights & fridges) at a festival, because we cook on gas.

      At a street food event the power may well be limited, as these events are run on a shoe-string. If you are heavily reliant on power it’s worth fixing a menu that you can take to a lower power event (one that doesn’t use fryers) so that you are not accidentally limiting yourself.

      I hope that helps!
      Flic

  • Beth Baxter

    Some great background here. I think Marketing is key – understanding what sort of events your target market will be at and then hitting that market hard. Unfortunately this will involve some trial and error in the early days but do your research – look at the profile of the audience and check it matches your target market. We have a mobile coffee van http://www.camper-cafe.co.uk and although you may think that everyone drinks coffee, we still really need to pick our venues.

  • lolaswingsuk

    On some of the event applications they ask about water consumption and water wastage. This is our first year and we haven’t traded yet so I was just wondering about how much you guys use? I’m trying to estimate, but I really have no idea.Thanks for all your help, your blog is such a helpful tool!

    • jabberwockyfood

      The amount of water we use depends on the festival and how many got drinks we are selling. Usually we will get through 20litres a day easily sometimes as much as 80 if we are doing a lot of tea.

      As for waste water we orifice about 20litres a day

      • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

        I’m excited that the word “orifice” still works in this context.

  • Pingback: The essentials of starting a food business in the UK - My Biz Hub()

  • http://www.mybizhub.co.uk/ My Biz Hub

    We love how detailed and practical your info is and mentioned you in our latest post on how to start a food business in the UK! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Thanks very much for that folks! Always pleased to spread the love.

  • Claire

    Hey, i’m really sorry if this has already been answered somewhere but i cant find it! But does anyone know where we can legally store dried food ingredients when not trading? we only want to trade at the weekends as we are new to this, and still have full time jobs.
    The problem is we live in a caravan which will not pass the environmental health check so we can store food at home. (We are living here so we can afford to set up a business)
    Can you store dried food/cupboard food in the van when not trading? Can you store food at self storage?(I’ve only read cans, bottles of water, but how about sealed bags?) Hope someone can help, its our biggest hurdle to getting ourself up and running! Or do we just have to buy all ingredients on the day of trading? Thanks Claire x

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Claire,

      Excellent question – and don’t worry, it’s not been
      covered anywhere else. If you trade from a van and have that as your
      designated prep kitchen then you can store all your food in there.
      However as long as you have processes in place to make sure food is safe you can store it almost anywhere.

      I’d designate a shelf in your kitchen area for business food only. Add that to your cleaning rota so that it gets checked and cleaned regularly. You can then give your local EHO a jingle and ask them – they are actually there to help rather than to stop you trading. They may be able to suggest an alternative if this doesn’t appeal to them (different EHOs will have differnt opinions). Asking questions and being engaged with food safety is a good way to show them you’re trying to comply.

      If you’re gazeboing then you will need to have a designated prep kitchen somewhere anyway, so that’s where you store everything.

      Good luck with it!
      Flic

      • Claire

        Hi Flic, thats great thank you so much for replying so soon! Very useful! 🙂
        Great website too!

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          No worries 🙂 Best of luck with everything!

  • Paul Lackie

    Hi Felicity,

    Just wondering if you could help me, I have bought a gas griddle to cook flat breads on, I have been quoted £400 to fit regulators and get a gas certificate (more than the griddle itself) Do you think it may be a wise move to sell the gas griddle and move to an electric given that we are only using it for cooking flatbreads, you help would be hugely appreciated!

    Paul

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Paul! £400 seems extreme. Also fun fact: A griddle doesn’t have a regulator fitted to it directly, the regulator goes on the gas bottle (and only costs £40ish). You would need a flame failure device on the grill itself, which most modern (LPG) catering equipment comes with as standard.

      Perhaps it’s worth seeking the opinion of a different gas engineer? Either that or the griddle you have is ancient and not really worth salvaging.

      In terms of gas v electric, my most recent post has more thoughts on it: http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/blog/2015/02/25/cooking-on-gas-or-electric/ you need to look at what kind of events you will be doing locally and what your overall power consumption will be. Can you get a different piece of equipment that will be more versatile for you in future (like a hob)? Otherwise you will have to carry that griddle around with you all the time.
      Hope that helps!
      Flic

  • Max Justin

    Hi there,

    Really fantastic resource you have here for someone looking to start in street-food such as moi. I need your help with some terminology perhaps! My business will sell curries and when looking at the equipment used by similar purveyors they seem to have a magical free-standing range type thing which allows for hot trays / big pans of curry to sit on to cook and be served from (sometimes using two to cover a wide pitch) It doesn’t look like has gas rings but just a large heated plate but for mass cooking.

    I have done my fair share of researching but can’t for the life of me get a name for this magical cook-all type unit or find one. Would love to know what that kind of equipment is called and where you might think I can find one? I look on catering suppliers for gas griddles which in my head is closest to what I have seen but can’t find what I have seen at markets. I tend to only see really expensive griddles / gas ovens / and gas boiling tops which could work to cook big pans of curries and pans for flat breads on but are not ideal and look like they are designed for professional restaurant kitchens.

    I’d be looking to buy a used one, gas powered for a gazebo / stall style set up with potential to move into a food van.

    Any light you could shed on this would be greatly appreciated.

    🙂

    Many Thanks in advance.

    Max

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Max,

      I am glad you have found the guide useful.

      I am not sure what you are looking for either. Here are the options:

      It could be a chafing dish. This is great for keeping stuff hot but cannot be used to cook or re-heat. If you go for these make sure you get the rectangular “gastronorm” size as replacement parts are much easier to find that way.

      A Bain Marie. These can be gas or electric and again are great for serving from, and much easier to predict than the cheaper chafing dish. Again you cannot cook or re-heat on them.

      Boiling ring: Probably the best option for outside curry cooking. Gas ones are cheap and easy to get hold of. Make sure you buy one with a flame failure device as that is vital to get a Gas Safe certificate. Once you have used the boling ring to cook you can then transfer the curry to a bain marie or similar

      If you do a google image seach for the above you fill find out if they are the right things. If not let me know and we will ahev another think.

      Good luck and I hope this helps

      Barny

      • Max Justin

        Thanks for your detailed, prompt, helpful reply. It’s none of those but think boiling rings are the way forward. Will just ask next time, i’m likable enough!

        Thanks again

        Max

  • George

    Hi there,

    Thanks a lot for the detailed information provided. I was just wondering if in cities such as London it is possible to position/park a food truck anywhere if you get permit or is it just in markets that you can do that? Thanks a lot

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi George!
      Every borough will have slightly different rules on where you can and can’t rock up to trade. Have a look at ‘Licensed Streets’, ‘Consent Streets’ and ‘Prohibited Streets’ for details on what is allowed in your area. Mostly though, you have to assume that you can only trade as part of a designated market.

      Again at markets you can’t drive up and participate unless the market specifically invites that. In most cases you will have to find out who organises the event and arrange a plot with them.

      Best of luck with it!

  • Elizabeth Hurst

    Hello, firstly I just wanted to stay I have found your blog extremely helpful and think its amazing you take the time to help others trying to start up, so keep it up!

    I have a question regarding event applications that you may be able to help with. We are just getting set up but haven’t started trading yet, with plans to start in June and want to do events from June-September. We have done all our research, bought our equipment and have our NCASS membership but saw that we will need public liability insurance to apply to events. Is this the case for all events? If we cannot start trading until June what you recommend to do regarding insurance for the applications? Would you recommend a certain public liability insurance company?

    Many thanks!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I am glad you have found our blog helpful.

      Yes you will need public liability Insurance(PLI). You will need this to trade in any form especially at public events. A lot of festivals will discount any trader who cannot prove they have it when they apply. If you are hoping to trade at big events this year you will need to get your applications in by Easter as this is when a lot of them make their decisions.

      PLI is not expensive. Depending on your unit type and turnover, you will be looking at £100-£200 per year.

      The NCASS insurance team is worth checking first as they are easy to deal with. Our PLI comes from Mobiler’s who we have found to be the cheapest (for us) over the last couple of years. I would also recommend Barry Grainger LTD.

      I hope this helps.

      Good luck, and we will see you on the streets soon

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi

    First of all, thank yuo for this website, really great help!

    We have some questions for start.

    My mate and me want to set up a trailer, selling wraps.
    Our questions>

    1. I will be the owner, and my friend is my helper.
    If we will both self-employers, how could I pay my mate`s salary?
    What kind of contract we need to make everything right?

    2. What is the first step we need to take?

    buy a trailer?
    set up business contract?
    register local authority?
    whet is EXACTLY the order step-by-step to take?

    3. Equpments
    Better to rent, or buy used/or new equipments?

    4.
    If we have to regitry a “food preparation place” (eg sauces, salads,
    pancake pastry) is it could be our food trailer itself? (even if we
    prepare the food at home?) Or have to be a proper kitchen? Could be my
    home kitchen?
    What are the regulations and specitications for a preparing food kitchen?

    We hope we could register our food trailer for it…

    5. money for start
    5000 ponds will be enough to start this, or not?
    (start from ZERO!)
    (we have to buy trailer, equipments, registry business, pay NCASS, food hygiene, bookkepper, buy food, etc)
    How much do we need for a wrap trailer?

    6. buy or build?
    Do
    you think better to buy used ready to trade-trailer, and start, or is
    it worth to build our own trailer? (buy some junk trailer on ebay, and
    pimp up) How much does it cost?

    Thank you for the answers!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Ocsy!

      You have a whole lot of questions there, and I’m afraid I’m only one person. But help is at hand. I’m in the process of finishing off a book that is about the whole process of starting and running a street food business, and has answers to all your questions.

      Keep an eye on our twitter, we will let the world know as soon as it is live.

      Thanks!
      Flic

  • benandtom

    Hey guys,

    Firstly, great article!

    Secondly, we’ve read the post on your trip to London to be on the telly-box (congrats!) and it got us thinking:

    As you seem to be the go-to folks for all questions street food and with your knowledge of the toastie scene, do you think there is there room for another vendor, particularly in London? We’re very confident in our product, but we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or shoot ourselves in the foot before we’ve even begun.

    We were also wondering about whether we could use the gazebo itself to register with EHO as our prep kitchen (as all of our prep would be done on site on the morning of the event). Does this sound do-able and legal?

    Also, I’ve seen from your pictures that you use gas as opposed to electric grills. Why did you choose gas?

    Many thanks for your time and for a great blog. Keep up all the good work, and do let us know when your book is coming out (and when you’re coming to London so we can grab a toastie!)

    Cheers!

    Ben and Tom

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Ben and Tom,

      Yes you can register your Gazebo as your prep kitchen. This is probably the easiest thing to do in the short term. It just has to meet all the requirements of a commercial kitchen (handsinks, colour coded boards etc). However, I would recommend registering your kitchen at home as well. In the short term it will be more expensive and longer but the EHO will give you any advice you might need to make it legal as they really aren’t there to catch you out. In the long term this will mean you have a legal place to prep up for bigger events, and private gigs like weddings. It is something we didn’t do at first but made life a lot easier when we finally got it all done.

      To your second point. We chose gas to cook on because of the van. It already had LPG in and all we had to do was up date and modify it. On top of this LPG is cheaper as you don’t need a generator even if the equipment is more expensive. It also allows you to be available for more events as with LPG you can cook anywhere.

      Having said this we still have not decided what to use in our new unit http://bit.ly/1zf6xoN and we might well go with electric in this one

      Good luck with the your toasties. I hope we’ll get to sample them soon.

      Barny

      • benandtom

        Hi Barny,

        Thanks so much for your really helpful responses.

        You guys are a vital resource to the noobs and when we come to visit our sister in the midlands, we’re hunting you down!

        Cheers

        Ben and Tom

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      As promised, one book: Street Food Soliloquy: Starting and Running a UK Street Food Business I hope it’s useful. Good luck with street food.

  • tim

    hi guys, i’ve been working on an idea for a while and am currently writing business plan. I am self funding but need this roadmap in place. what are the standard pieces of equipment needed and where is the best place to purchase these say for a 4×4 gazebo set up? I need a grill a couple of trestle tables. anything else? thanks.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey Tim,

      So, your standard gazebo should be 3×3 – that way you will fit in everywhere (work in multiples of 3 for gazebo frontage) as that’s how they are all worked out. What equipment you need will depend very much on what it is you’re selling, but beyond the actual cooking equipment you will need quite a few bits and bobs to cover yourself legally:

      -hand wish sink and peripherals
      -cleaning equipment
      -first aid kit
      -6kg powder fire extinguisher & fire blanket
      -Spoons. You can never have too many spoons.

      I hope that helps!
      Flic

  • Priya Bhambra

    Hi, I have a drink I have produced and want to take to market, I don’t have HUGE plans for it but its niche and different and I think people would enjoy it – I do however make this at home, what licenses/ approvals etc would I need to take it to for example Brixton/ Camden market for example?
    Thanks!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Priya!
      I’m guessing by “drink” you mean one of an alcoholic nature? If so then you need to set yourself up as a licensed distillery or brewer. That goes beyond my field, but folks who have done it inform me it is, and I quote, “a right ball-ache”.

      You also need to hold a personal license and will have to apply for a temporary events notice everywhere you trade.

      If you meant non-alcoholic then rejoice! The road is much easier. You will be a low-risk business as far as your local EHO are concerned, so they will inspect you less. You still need to register your prep kitchen and set up a business, but the food safety will be much less stringent if you’re not, you’know, handling food.

      To then take it to a market you need public liability insurance, food safety certs from the local council and to convince Desirable-London-Market to have you there in the first place. I strongly suspect that will be the hardest part, but get the legalities sorted first, so that they can’t reject you on that.

      Best of luck!
      Flic

  • Robert Alan Jones

    Hi there,

    I’m a very devoted foodie like yourselves and really want to start a very fresh and healthy food truck up in the north around Manchester. The only problem I have is trying to find someone who is just as passionate as I am who really wants to set on up. Also i think it would be too difficult to set one up financially by myself. Do you know if there is any website where I can find like minded people who are wanting to do the same? Great post by the way and wanted to also ask when your book is out? At the moment I’m reading books that are mainly associated with American food trucks, there OK but it doesn’t really talk about the legal side of stuff for the UK as your site does.

    Thanks for sharing your wise words,

    Rob

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Rob,

      I am glad to hear that you are excited about Streetfood. The book will hopefully be out to buy soon. Watch this space for more details.

      Unfortunately I can’t recommend anywhere to find a like minded person. I think your best bet is to go for it on your own. This means that if you can find the funds then you can do what you want rather than having to compromise with a business partner. Plus you’ll be amazed how willing friends and family will be to muck in and help out. Plus when you know people well you don’t have to pay them. Doing this might mean that someone you know will love doing Streetfood as much as you and will want to make a go of it together

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      The book will be out as soon as I can get Barny to proof read it. Follow us on twitter https://twitter.com/jabberwockyfood or subscribe to the blog for updates. Thanks!

    • Gaurav Arora

      Hi there have you started your business yet?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      As promised, Street Food Soliloquy: Starting and Running a UK Street Food Business, one book. Hope you are getting on in street food, and best of luck with it.

  • Carmellna

    Hello,

    Summer is nearly here.I would like to sell smoothies at farmers markets etc.I want to make them at home.Am testing the waters and using this as a market survey as well as make some money or at least cover cost.Is this allowed or do I have to hire a kitchen.What regulations, insurance do I need ?Am based in Leeds.Thank you.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You can register your kitchen at home as a prep kitchen, but with smoothies it might be easier (and more visual) to make them on site. You will need power for a smoothie maker, but that is probably a lot less hassle than getting your kitchen up to spec and going through a full EHO inspection. You would probably be classed as low risk, so the inspection wouldn’t be too rigorous, but it’s worth considering anyway.

      You will still need all the usual bumpf: risk assessment, PLI, food hygiene certificate etc. See http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/blog/how-to-start-a-street-food-business/#licence for details.

      Best of luck!

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi!
    I will have a tiny market stall, and have to buy a mobile hand wash equipment.

    The market told me I have to have a “hand washing unit with suitably controlled temperature of water”

    What would you recommend for me?

    1. which of those are you recommend for me?
    http://www.tealwash.com/shop/handeman-mains-supply/
    http://www.streetfood.org.uk/blog/gel-has-had-its-day

    2. Am I really need mains or any electric supply?
    Is it right just fill up with hot water, and that will keeps it warm?

    3. How could I controll temperature if theese have just 1 tap?
    How coul i set teperature if i put hot water inside?

    Thank you
    Andras

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You need hot water for hand washing, so either of these units will make you compliant. As I guess you don’t have any power on site I would recommend the Handiwash unit, as that will keep your water hot for most of the day. You can also take a saucepan and boil water to top it up with during the day if you run out.

      If you are concerned with temperature then almost fill with boiling water before you go to site. Once you get there add cold until you can just wash your hands, and it should stay hot enough for the remainder of the day.

      I hope that helps!
      Flic

      • Ocsy Róka Koma

        Thank you

      • Ocsy Róka Koma

        thank you, I bought one, and ready for next steps…

  • Louis jacobsen

    Hi there. I am currently in the process of starting my business and I am planning to get a food van. The problem I am having is the order in which to set up. What to do first? As I don’t want to buy a food truck and spend loads of money without knowing if it is a good idea or not. I want to conduct some market research to overcome this but this is when I realise I need a location to get accurate results and to be able to forecast sales, but being able to determine a location this early on is near to impossible, as when you speak to councils about locations they expect you to be up and running with licenses etc… Just wondered if you had any input in which order to start things up and how to carry out market research without a location set in stone. Sorry about the long paragraph! Would realy appreciate your veiw! Thanks very much. Louis

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Louis,

      I would recommend that before you spend lots of money on a van, you get out there and try selling your food. The best way to do this is with a cheap Gazebo set up. For about £1000 you can get your self legal and ready to trade. This then means you can get on the ground research from selling your wares, but also test out serving methods and try equipment. It might sound slow but once you have traded from a gazebo you will have a much clearer idea of what you want from and van/trailer and so it will be much more future proof. Once you have everything you need get into any market or event you can and just start getting your food into people. Try not to get distracted by all the bits that are not 100% necessary (such as uniforms, tills, biodegradable forks)

      As for licences etc. the first thing you will need to do is tell you local authority. This is “registration of a food business”. Once the council says ok they will start the process of inspections and guidance to make sure you are both legal and safe.

      I hope this helps and you get out on the streets soon

      Barny

      • Louis jacobsen

        Great thanks very much for the advise, very much appreciated.

        Louis

  • Puja Datta Sharma

    Hi, I really want to start a street stall for homemade cakes (preapred at home) and fresh milkshakes (prepared at the stall) but I am not sure what I need to do for that.. what kind of certification/insurance do i need to get. i am looking at selling at town markets and events like fairs and festivals. Can you please advise

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Puja,

      If you want to sell cakes etc. you will still need to register your food business with you local council. This means that Environmental Health (EHO) can inspect and advise you with respect to your food. If you are cooking at home they will also give you advice on making your kitchen compliant and safe. The EHO will also advise you on certification needed, but the minimum will be Level 2 food hygiene

      Insurance wise you will need the standard Public/employers/product liability available from many outlets on the internet. It will cost you some where around the £150 mark for the year.

      Good luck with the cakes

      Barny

  • marko

    I am in the middle of purchasing this I have my food hygiene passed accountant booked and lacking a space to put it in also looking for someone to check my gas and electricity so I can present my certificates to the council with my fee this is all new to me and I have took the plunge to start my own grill if anyone has any good ideas or may know someone who can do my lpg & electricity check that would be great thank you

    • Dan Fox

      Hello marko. I work for NCASS. We have a list of engineers all over the UK, if u give me a call during office hours I’ll give u a few names and numbers. Dan 01216032524

    • jabberwockyfood

      If you are a memeber of NCASS thet is good place to start. Otherwise:

      Electricity you will need a PAT certificate. Just google “PAT test [your town]” and you will find soemone close by. It usually costs around £100 to get all your appliances tested

      Gas you will need a “Gas Safety Test” this website has all the approved testers in the country http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/ you will need one that does LPG, commercial and mobile units. You will probably find that you don’t get much choice so when you find one hold onto them. Plus they will probably be able to point you in the direction of the cheapest calor gas in the area.

  • Alexandra

    Alexa

    Hi! PLEASE HELP ME

    I love this site very helpful information, I have a question that i just cant get my head around. I am staring a catering trailer and i have quiet few electrical equipment and some gas. Now what i seen the best idea would be to get a generator and i have seen one for 5000kwh, no what i dont understand and i cant calculate is that how many gas bottles will it take to run this for a whole day of trading? i know that the generator will produce 5000kwh but i dont know how many for example 19kg gas bottle to make it function for a day or a week? any ideas? also i would highly appreciate if someone could tell me how many bottles needed to run a gas griddle? If anyone knows please help me. Many thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Alexa,

      LPG generators are fairly rare, are you sure the one you have found is LPG? They can be converted from If so: they are reasonably economical, and a 19kg of propane will last you for at least several days of trading, probably more.

      The griddle: a 19kg of propane will give you around 60 hours of cooking time on a sizeable double griddle. Again, this will vary a lot based on how you use your equipment.

      I would recommend hunting down a gas safe technician and getting him/her to check your trailer. This is a legal requirement, so get it sorted sooner rather than later!

      Best of luck with everything, hopefully see you on the road soon!
      Flic

  • Peter Sugar

    Hi Flic, can we sell food from a truck in our driveway?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Peter,
      In theory, as you are on private property, you don’t need a license. You do still need to be insured, certified, legal and inspected, but possibly not directly licensed. However the rules for trading on private land usually stipulate that you need to be only accessible to guests you have invited, so behind a gate, up a tree or otherwise out of the way.

      If your driveway backs onto a main road and you are looking to make a bit from passing trade you may have to register as a “market”, or you might be able to get away with a pedlars license. It will depend on the area and your local council.

      You best bet is to get in touch with the licensing department at the council, explain what you are planning and ask what you need for your area.

      They all like to run things slightly differently, just to keep life interesting.

  • http://www.bymigh.com ByMigh Accounting

    Street Food Live 29/30 September at the Excel Centre in London alongside the Takeaway Innovation Expo, will be a great source of information. Lots of information to help you start, grow and innovate your business. Many industry experts speaking too. As food industry accountants my firm will be exhibiting and speaking. Here is a link to Street Food Live http://www.streetfoodlive.co.uk. All the best with your food businesses.
    Shirley Jackson FCCA

  • Ethyob

    Hi there,

    I am looking for a toastie machine, to run off gas, that may warm 4-6 toasties at a time but am hoping there may be one that comes with a grill of some sort too? Im struggling to find, can you help or provide recommendations?

    Thanks
    Jon

    • jabberwockyfood

      You want an LPG panini grill by the sounds of it. They are quite rare, and almost all of them have a ribbed grill plate rather than a flat contact grill. You can use the ribbed plate for all the same tasks, but it is a bit of a pain to clean.

      As we use our own proprietary method I can’t recommend a specific grill, but with commercial equipment you tend to get what you pay for: It’s worth spending more on the panini press that will last you forever rather than buying a cheap one.

      Pro tip: A lot of our fellow toastie folks use a flat LPG griddlelike this for the cooking, and squash with a panini iron.

      See the related blog post for more details.

      • Ethyob

        Thanks for your help on this. I’m still looking currently as I have both LPG and electric options and am trying to weigh up the much higher priced gas equipment compared with electric, it seems running gas is cheaper in the long run and with electricity a generator is obviously needed.
        Is it me or does it seem that very little can run off an electric generator? It seems you can spend high hundreds on one and yet you cant seem to run much more than 2.8kw really – which is the equivalent of a semi decent coffee machine? The gas/elec query is putting a spanner in the works for me, do you know of anyone able to help and give me some proper advice on best way forward here? (I’m a member of NCASS but not sure how much they can help me here, without charging)

  • http://legendofcurry.com Legend of Curry

    Beautifully put, I salute you: “Once you know the answer to this I believe you win Street Food and we all get together to hold a little ceremony in your honour”.

    • jabberwockyfood

      You know the pain. Secret street food handshakes all round 🙂

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    I did apply for Camden Market with my vegetarian food ideas, but it was rejected. I think my application was too goofy…

    I would like to have a professional application letter, but I dont know what I have to write in it.
    I will use that for apply for other markets untill I can get a place/

    So,I need a professional application, an official one what introducing me, why I do vegetarian food, and how, my future plan, etc…

    I don`t know how to write this official application form.

    What points I have to write about?
    Future plans?
    Or write a proper business plan?
    Where I buy/ how I produce/ what equipments I have, and why?
    Any explanation how I will make the market price, how much does 1 menu costs, and how much I will sell/ Am I have to talk about the money at all?

    If you have a template, or a sample letter, I would be happy to follow that, or If you could recommend an office who could do an interview me, and write an official application that would be helpful as well.

    I don`t know how to start, what informations and details have to include, what attachments I have to provide..

    Sorry if I have dummy questions, I never didi it before, I dont know how to start an official application for market stalls.

    greetings
    Roka Koma

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Roka!

      As a brand new trader, I would have been amazed if you’d got into Camden market. You need to set your sights a little lower – find smaller markets, get some experience, then work towards the big events.

      You have a whole lot of questions here, so I would strongly recommend you check out the bookwhich will give you all the information I have on getting into events. If you still have questions after that, get in touch – we are available to consult and provide help specifically to your business.

      Good luck!

      • Ocsy Róka Koma

        thank you, i will apply for other markets.

        do you think is there any template application available online somehow?

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi,
    I need some advice GRIDDLE vs GAS rig + PAN subject

    My budget is low, I have £500-800 to buy rigs+pans, or a griddle.

    I will make a special pancake stall.
    I have to tell, the pastry is heavier than normal pancakes, as it contains rye, and grated vegetables. I dont know is a griddle suits for this kind of pastry, or pan is the best for it?
    Target: around 150 pancakes/day, in food stall (not caravan)

    What equipment should I buy?
    – what brand
    – what kind of material (teflon, titanium, ceramic, etc…)
    – electric or gas?

    Please also recommend me any helpful advise, or send me link where could I find my equipments what suits my profile and my budget.

    Thank you

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Ocsy,

      You are still asking a whole lot of questions, I feel like if you are really keen on street food you need to go and do some serious research of your own, try a few things and get some experience. Read the book, read the blog and read whatever else you can find, then make a plan yourself.

      This needs to be your business, that you are uniquely proud of and passionate about. Drip-feeding you all the answers through the blog isn’t going to get you that – you need to put the work in.

      If you would like our detailed assistance you can always hire us as consultants. Drop us an email for our rates.

      Good luck!

      • David

        You are still asking a whole lot of questions, I feel like if you are
        really keen on street food you need to go and do some serious research
        of your own

        Well by coming on this site he is doing serious research of his own, is he not?

        • jabberwockyfood

          Yes coming here counts as research, but it is not research that has taken much effort or thought. This website is meant to be here to help people, not spoon feed people the answer they need to survive in street food. This is not an industry where passive people are going to make money so if you can’t work some stuff out for yourself you should really think again.

          On the flip side if you need a huge amount of support we are happy to supply this but we do need paying for our time. We have a mortgage to pay just like everyone else and so we can’t spend our entire lives answering peoples questions on here for free.

  • Georgia

    Hi Flic, your book is possibly the most useful thing i’ve ever read, found it online after looking for ‘how to start a street food business’. Simple, straightforward, fantastic.

    I could use a little bit more wisdom. What would you say is a reasonable price for van insurance? We’ve got our hands on VW camper to convert and been quoted around £1,100 for catering insurance for the year. If this is about the going rate then that’s fine but I’d rather check.

    Thanks!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Georgia,

      I am glad you like the book.

      Ok so insurance. In our first year we spent about £900 on insurance and then that dropped to £650 and now it is around £500 per year. The reason we got it down is that we started to build up a new no-claims for the business. Your van is probably worth a little more than our so you will have to pay a little more so around a grand is probably right for your first year. Second year we got people fighting for our business so the price dropped loads.

      Insurance people to check are as follows. For good quotes you will always have to phone people as it is such a specialist area of insurance:

      Mobilers http://mobilers.co.uk/

      Adrian flux https://www.adrianflux.co.uk/

      Barry grainger http://www.barrygraingerinsurance.co.uk/

      Falcon http://www.falconinsurance.com/

      Cater n sure http://www.caternsure.co.uk/

      NCASS https://www.ncass.org.uk/insurance-area/insurance-home

      I hope that helps, let us know which one works out best for you

      Barny

      P.S. all these guys do Public liability insurance too

  • Hollie

    I hoped someone could help me.

    I’m looking to set up a food stall and eventually truck. I want to cook pasta, so I want really large cat iron skillets. Not with handles and obviously as big as possible. I can’t find them anywhere, despite lots of research. Does anyone have any ideas?

    I don’t want to use a regular paella pan because I think I need a heavy bottomed one to prevent burning.

    Any ideas to point me in the right direction would be gretly appreciated.

  • Hollie

    Oops I put cat iron rather than cast iron*

  • Gary ‘captain Wales’ Timson

    Hi! I have just bough a vintage caravan which I’m looking to convert into a food truck, are there any regulations I should be aware off that I might overlook? Like weight restrictions etc, thanks Gary:)

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      It depends what you are looking to put in there in terms of food: if you will be preping and cooking in there, you need a fully compliant kitchen: talk to the local environmental health to make sure you are compliant. You will need a sensible prep surface, two sinks, and lots of easy-clean surfaces at least, as well as safe equipment and a gas safety test.

      You need to be able to legally tow it on your license, so check what you are allowed to tow and try and keep your setup as light as possible: if you go to big events you will be loading in a ton of extra stock to take as well.

      Good luck with it!

  • Martin Graham

    Hi, I’m hoping to start trading on a trunk road, do I need a street trading licence for this. Thanks Martin G

    • jabberwockyfood

      You will need to register your food business with the local council. This will start things like EHO inspections.

      You then need to talk to the county council where the road is located. Depending on the council you will more than likely need to have a street trading licence as well as having the particular pitch approved. This will entail a risk assessment and paying a rental fee. County councils are very slow and bureaucratic so don’t be put off you will have to call a few times to get anything sorted

      Good luck

  • Nick Booth

    Hi there Flic,

    That was an excellent post, very informative. I had a question about larger sized pitches. I am planning on using a circular tent 4m in diameter but have seen that often pitches are 3×3 squares. Will this make it a lot more expensive/difficult to find the right pitch? Any help would be much appreciated.

    Nick

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Nick,

      I am glad you liked the post. for more info I would recommend Flic’s book http://amzn.to/1SbuAnP

      Yes you are correct that a lot of events have use a standard 3m x 3m pitch. You will, therefore, get stung by having to pay for extra space. At some events you will have to buy 2 pitches. This has happened to us and it really hurts when you know that you are paying twice as much as your neighbours. You will also find that most events like the traders in a straight row so your round unit will look a bit odd or end up recessed. Neither of which are good for sales.

      Having said all this you will stand out from the Gazebo crowd and that can massively help sales and your chances of getting private work. It will also help you get into festivals and better events because you don’t look like every one else. Make sure that you tell organisers about your unit and how good it would be for both them and you for you to be out in the open where everyone can see you.

      Good luck

      Barny

  • Katie Oxtoby

    Hey guys,
    Great post and I have just bought your book. We have been trading as a business with shops for 3.5 years and at events for 3 years but this year we tried to expand our street food business and really got our fingers burnt at a number of bad events. I’ve resolved that the whole events team really needs more knowledge and information to ensure we get it right next year so I’m really excited to read your book, and for my colleagues to aswell!
    Will report back post-intervention!!
    Katie

  • alexis

    Hi
    Started in the street food business last year Bought and converted a new van and we did really well Booked out till third week in Nov and became profitable quickly Then disaster struck my partners health so does anyone have any ideas how to sell a brand new van Would pay a good commission to a broker or similar Have looked on E Bay Gumtree and NCASS but their core trade seems to be old high mileage vans.Its perfect spotless and once our wraps off plain white

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Alexi,

      Sorry but the places I would recommend that you try to sell the van you have already looked at. I suspect that you might struggle to sell the van as people want the old knackered retro vans these days even if they do break down all the time

      I hope you get it sorted

      Barny

    • Caroline wilson

      Hello I am looking for a catering van please can you tell me the price and where you are based so that I can come and view the van. Thanks
      97946776979
      Wilson

    • Caroline wilson

      07946776979

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi,

    CALOR or FLO gas?

    Regulator: 1.5kg/hour, or 4kg/hour?

    I want to buy 2 bottle of 19kg gas for my 4 burners.
    2 burners has 2 flames, (9kW)
    2 burners has 1 flame (5,3kW)

    Gas regulator: I think I buy 4kg/hour, as I connect 3 flames on 1 gas bottle.

    Is it right?
    What you think FLO or CALOR?
    1.5kg or 4kg/ hour the best?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You need a high pressure (4kg) regulator. We use Calor and don’t have any experience with Flo.

      It sounds like you are planning to build your own rig. Please make sure you get it checked by a gas safety inspector, otherwise it’s illegal and dangerous.

      Cheers!

      • Ocsy Róka Koma

        I try to buy CALOR gas bottle on internet. Could you recommend a place to buy online, or at London somewhere?

        I saw its around £31-36 + I have to buy the bottle as well what costs £60?! is that right?

        Do ou know any cheaper place to buy some?


        About my rigs:
        I bought on ebay, i am not making a byleg gas rig:)

        I have two of this:
        http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Large-Cast-Iron-LPG-Burner-Gas-Cooker-Boiling-Ring-For-Restaurant-Catering-/271899826403?hash=item3f4e7e18e3
        and two of this:
        http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271899826403

        Andras

        • jabberwockyfood

          Sorry but we can’t recommend any where in London to buy has or a bottle. Around £30 is ta good rate for gas. You will need to buy the bottle when you first start but then it is just the had you are buying after that.

          Good luck

          • Ocsy Róka Koma

            Thank you, I will buy then 2 regulators (4kg/hours)

            and I will buy empty bottles on ebay, and fill them up for 30…
            I think its cheaper than by a new bottle…

            Thank you

  • Louis

    Hi again. Just wanted to firstly thank you for advise a few months ago. Realy helped. Got a question about catering vans that might sound daft! In terms of having a fully equipped catering van which runs of both electricity and Gas (with a hook up not generator), how common or easy isit to find places where you can trade from as in a place for you to hook up to. I’m know most markets/events cater for this but otherwise is running of electricity a real limitation to where you can trade from? Or is finding an electrical hook up quite easy?

    Thanks again

    Louis

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Louis – no worries, happy to help!

      It very much depends on where you are. Most big cities that are used to street food will be able to provide power – especially if most of the cooking is done on gas and your requirements are minimal.

      We have a Suitcase Generator (the Honda is worth the money) which we usually have with us, so that if there’s no power available we can run ourselves.

      Here’s a bit more on the gas vs. electric debate , in case you fancy it.

      Tl;dr – Being totally independent on power will occasionally get you into extra places, but needing a small amount of power is unlikely to hold you back.

      Good luck!

      • Louis

        Perfect, thanks for that. That information helped a lot.

  • Denise Snape

    Hi. Some great advice, thanks. Would you be able to help me, I would like to have my van run off solar power for what it can manage then use a small generator for what it can’t. Can you point me in the right direction please?

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Denise,

      On the subject of solar panels I cannot help. We have no experience of using them so we cannot offer any advice.

      When it comes to generators beware of buying cheap. We use a little Honda generator and it is well worth spending the extra money on the better brand. Having said this most events will provide power and will not allow you to bring a genny anyway. So I would get your electrics working an then invest in the genny when you have to.

      Good luck

      Barny

      • Denise Snape

        Thanks, Barny

      • David

        I’ve been out looking at electrical appliances which I could suitcase back to the uk, providing I leave all the stuff I brought here until next trip; however, I haven’t decided between gas and electricity yet. I read in the book that I will be charged for each 16amp-requiring-appliance I use. Firstly, for what do they charge-for the connection and then for how much power used, or just for the connection? What if it’s not being used all of the time you are on a particular site/pitch? Without finding out exactly what it means I can’t make a decision. What about stringing together your electric toothbrush with your wife’s electric toothbrush; would each need a separate connection, thus getting a whole bunch of connections leading into your gazebo/van, costing you a fortune? many thanks, David.

  • Louis jacobsen

    Hi again! Can I just say big thanks for the replies, the info you have passed on has been very valuable. I have a question regarding water onsite. I have had mixed messages about what I need in terms on washing hands etc.. I have a van which has no water supply but have been told that a hot water urn would be acceptable to have in terms of water on site. I am guessing for washing hands as a minimum requirement. Do you have any tips as I guess getting my van plumbed in anyway is out the picture. Is a hot water urn acceptable in most places? Or everywhere for meeting environmental health standards/hygeine. Or do you have any other ideas/practices?

    Thanks again!

    Louis

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Louis,

      You need to have a Hand-wash sink as a minimum. for this job a tea urn will not be suitable as you can’t wash your hands in boiling water. Here is a what we have. https://www.ncass.org.uk/docs/default-source/information-documents/miniwash-specification.pdf?sfvrsn=0 This type of unit is your best bet and is approved by NCASS. Some of these units even have built in waste water tanks so you don’t need to do any plumbing in the van

      As for pot wash; a tea urn and a cold water tank is a good option to for. If you are doing more an just day events then you will need pot wash as well.

      It is also a good idea to talk to your local Environmental Health Officer as they will have recommendations and standards for your area that you will have to abide by.

      I hope that helps

      Barny

      • David

        We have a sausage-in-a-bun-pedlar in Ipswich. They have a large plastic vacuum insulated tank with a tap and minute hand-basin underneath. Seems to me a good idea to fill up with hot water before setting off of a day. No power supply needed. I asked the sausage man for the make of his set-up, but he just looked at me as if I were mad for asking. Anybody know where to get such a thing?

        • jabberwockyfood

          Hi David,

          Sorry I don’t know where you can buy them. I think both Teal and Handiwash make a version. There person who we know with one made his own out of a small sink, a hand pump, a water tank and a polystyrene box for insulation. This would definitely be the cheapest option.

          Barny

          • David

            Hahaha! very inventive of him, Barny- and food for thought….as long as you could knock it up to look good, as well as keeping the water hot. Appearances are important when handling food I should think. Yes the above makes are selling on ebay, so you have helped me, thank you.

            Before I go to China, at end of the month, where her-indoors(being Chinese) will learn to cook, I will buy your book, so I have something to read. I don’t want to find out too much yet because I will have 7 weeks of nothing to do otherwise.

          • David

            Hello Barny
            Well, I did buy your book, and today is my first day in China. I am relieved that the Chinese have not blocked your blog (as long as you don’t try and use google to access it) but I did have to use a different e-mail.

            Now, I have only gotten as far as page 35 because your good advice makes me stop and go on-line to check out something or other. I have a question; if I buy a van and it may or may not come equipped for cooking, will all the equipment come out(standard design?) to furnish a gazebo if I go to a market to sell? My nearest market, Ipswich, doesn’t look like they even allow vans.

            Cheers, david.

          • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

            Hi David,

            If you’re cooking on gas then no, equipment can’t be removed as you would need a gas engineer to have it out. There is no such thing as a “standard” street food van, so if you want one where all the equipment can be removed, you can probably pay someone a Big Pile o’ Cash to make you one.

          • David

            Thanks, Felicity
            So you would have to use your fully equipped van to carry a second array of catering equipment as well as your gazebo to equip said gazebo, if your budget does not allow(or faith in one’s product) for running a second vehicle to service the gazebo? At the moment, my small car is too small to carry a gazebo and all needed equipment, if i also need to take the wife (who will cook and sell the really delicious food) and a toddler in car seat-and deposit wife and gazebo at the market. Cheers, David

  • Sam Wilkinson

    Hello, can anybody help please, I have pets therefore am unable to prepare food from home for my catering van. Would I be able to prepare it in a caravan kitted out for that purpose parked at the bottom of a 100ft garden and are there any Tips? Many thanks, Sam

    • David

      Why don’t you kit the caravan out for the pets instead? Pop some straw in to keep them warm in the winter mind.

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Sam,

      Yes you could use the caravan for that purpose. The 2 main things to remember are to keep pets away from food prep areas (so that hair and dirt doesn’t get into food) and to keep food for you/business separate. If you can put all the business stuff in the caravan that would be perfect.

      I would recommend having a conversation with your local Environmental health officer about this particular aspect as they can give you guide lines to make sure you are safe and get a 5* rating, while dealing with the pet problem.

      Barny

      • Sam Wilkinson

        Thank you Barny, That’s really useful information. I didn’t want to buy on a whim to find I couldn’t do this. Best wishes, Sam

  • David

    How come a gazebo is cheap to get started? It strikes me that if I want to prepare food for sale I would also have to buy a van to hump aroun all the equipment to go into the gazebo?

    • jabberwockyfood

      A gazebo s cheap because you don’t have to have a van. For example our entire gazebo set-up fits into our Volvo. So no need for an extra van. This is what a lotof Streetfood traders will do at first while they are finding their feet. Plus when it comes to Street food the expensive bit is not the van itself, rather the kitchen that goes inside it.

      • david

        I see what you mean. The trouble is I don’t have a volvo, but a Hyundai Accent 1.3. So I have to make up my mind whether I should replace the car and buy an estate or go for a van. Even so, with sink units etcetera it must be a squeeze for a Volvo Estate?

        This is a good site, thanks very much.

        • jabberwockyfood

          Yes it is a squeeze in our Volvo. With practice we have managed to get everything we need in. We are much more limited in the amount of stock that we can take compared to in our van. This is the main reason why most Street food taders (if they don’t start trading from a van) will get a transit to transport everything around in.

          Glad you like the site. I hope our comments help you get started. Don’t forget that the book has a lot more info in than the website

          • david

            Yes, I will get around to getting your book? Probably to read in China where we will be heading to learn to cook what we want to sell. Just one question if you’d be so good. How would the food inspectors inspect your trading premises and all its equipment if that premises were a gazebo? I mean would you have to erect it on the lawn or something and install fridges, wash basin, stove, etceteras- should you know what time they arrive to inspect? Then pop it back in the car boot when they have finished the inspection.

          • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

            It depends on your area. Some EHOs want you to build the whole setup in your garden or drive so they can come and have a look at it. Some are happy to inspect your paperwork and check you have a hand wash sink. Others only want to see your prep kitchen. For best results call your local Environmental Health Dept and ask them. Contrary to popular belief they are there to help you, and actually appreciate you being proactive.

            Good luck with it!

          • David

            Splendid answer for me, thank you, Felicity.

          • David

            Well just ordered your book which I won’t look at until I am in China. Do you or anybody know if the great firewall of China allows access to this site? Cheers david.

  • kim

    This is brilliantly written! A quick question…I’m undecided as to what size coffee cups to order for an upcoming event.. I was using 9oz but they are hard to come by. My coffee machine is calibrated to those ratios so should I go 8oz? It’s either that or the 10oz which may mean the coffees are too weak..
    What size soup disposables would you recommend also jabberwocky? I’ve been thrown in at the deep end!

    Thanks
    Kim x

    • jabberwockyfood

      We don’t pretend to be experts on coffee but this is the advice that we can give from our experience out at the sharp end of street food.

      It really depends on your brand and prices that you charge. people like to think they are getting a good deal (i.e. a big cup) but if you serve weak rubbish coffee they won’t come back for more. The standard size used is 8oz so you are probably safe with that (I always think it looks a little small).

      As far as type. I recommend getting something from your local cash and carry that way you know you can always get replacements and extras easily (even if they aren’t the prettiest). It is worth splashing out on a double-wall or barrier cup (we use double wall) as they feel much more expensive to the customer and they are easier to drink from due to insulation and stronger walls. Some events will insist on paper-only-cups so that they are biodegradable and the “barrier” cups are often plastic coated.

      Good luck

      Barny

      • kim

        Thankyou barny xx

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Just to add about the soup: we serve a 12oz pot. It’s the standard size you find in most places for bowls. Nothing like a good pot of home made soup for the winter! Just an FYI: it won’t sell much between May-Sept.
      Good luck!

      • kim

        Thankyou so much that’s brilliant xx

  • Beavis

    I’ve a question on dog ownership and mobile catering. If I’m cooking in my own kitchen and I have a dog what precautions do I have to take in order for it to be a safe environment? Or is dog ownership not allowed if you are using your home as your place of work in mobile catering before you head out to the streets.

  • Beavis

    What a great read the book is and i’ll be leaving a 5/5 on amazon shortly. I’m now sold on street food and looking to start up my business. I have a question on Dog ownership and street food. If i’m an owner of a dog and prep and cooking out of my home how does this work do you know on health and hygiene standards. is it a straight no or are the precautions to take e.g. the dog is not in the kitchen during food prep etc. If you had any advice on this that would be great, thanks.

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi,

      I’m glad the book has helped convinced you to join us on the streets.

      Having a dog does not mean for prep at home is a complete no no. You will have to do a special risk assessment to show how you will minimise contamination of food by the dog. The main way will be keeping the dog away from cooking and storage areas especially when actually cooking.

      The best thing to do is talk to your local Environment Health Officer. They will be able to give you advice and Guidance to make sure that you are safe and compliant. Remember they are there to help not catch you out.

      Good luck

      Barny

      • Beavis

        Perfect thanks I’ll check with my authority I’m registered with. Just left my review on Amazon on the book. Cheers

  • Tim

    Really useful, thanks!

    • jabberwockyfood

      You’re welcome – good luck!

  • Dawn Taylor

    This is so inspiring 🙂

    Me and my other half are hoping to start up next year…… We can’t find anywhere that tells us if we can legally have a gas BBQ with lid built in to the van?

    Anyone know?

    Cheers 🙂

    • jabberwockyfood

      Yes you can have a gas bbq inside a van. The same rules apply as with all other lpg cooking equipment; must be well ventilated, regularly serviced, have flame failure devices and have isolation valves.

      Best think to do is make sure everything is installed by a certified Gas safety technician.

      Good luck

  • hafi

    Hi this is a very very interesting article and website!
    Do you think it is better to rent or to own your trick if youre new in the business and don’t have money to start?
    Also, do the banks allow loans easyly?
    Thanks a lot!

    • hafi

      Also you mentionned the ncass, do they have people in Manchester ?
      Thanks

      • jabberwockyfood

        They are The National Caterers Association so they cover Manchester but their office is in Birmingham

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Hafi,

      I am glad you found the webdsite interesting.

      I would say it is better to own your own truck as you can then brand it to your business and make it stand out. Plus you can set up the equipment to suit your food and processes rather than have something forced on you. However, before you go out and buy a van I recommend that you get a gazebo set up and run that for a while as this will mean that you find out what you need from a vehicle. We soemtimes rent an extas van if we need to get more stock to a festival and in those instances a rental is definitly the best option

      I have no idea how banks will view lending you money. I will depend on you business plan and your experience.

      Good luck

  • Rachel Verge

    Thank you for all this information. We were thinking about offering a food service for parties/weddings/private functions. Is there much call for this? It wouldn’t need to be a full time earner, more something at weekends in the summer?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      It sound a little like you’re asking “do people eat food at weddings?” – rest assured there will always be a demand for event catering, and recently the demand for interesting food-stuffs has soared as people get more adventurous than the standard wedding breakfast/evening buffet combo.

      Just bear in mind that 90% of the wedding population wants to celebrate on a Saturday in Summer. Unless you are willing to put the legwork in and splash out on a well-built, search-engine friendly website you can expect it to only be weekends in the summer for now.

      Best of luck!

  • BabboFaggi

    Hi there. Great blog. Any idea how things stand with caramel peanuts (candied peanuts)? I see the carts out and about and they never seem to be equipped to usual food safety standards (e.g. no wash basins). Do you know if they are exempt from food safety requirements pertaining to other street food vendors?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi there! I don’t know for sure, but I very much doubt they are exempt. If your are not cooking the food and it’s all pre-packaged you would be able to do without, but anyone touching loose food really needs a hand wash sink. I expect they get away with it because it’s very casual business: the window of opportunity for selling hot nuts (lol) is only a few weekends in November and December.

      Your local Environmental Health Department will be able to give you more info.

      Good luck!

  • Steesh

    Hey there. Great advice to those thinking about setting up. My wife is Chinese and is a fantastic cook. We’ve been thinking for a while now about selling her homestyle cooking on a market. Would it cost us thousands still for a set-up that really just included cooking the food at home and serving it from bains maries throughout the day? From what I gather we’ll need to pay for 2/3 bains maries, maybe a gas stove for preparing fresh fried rice or noodles, gas canister set up, a generator for electricity?, hand washing equipment and others such as insurance and the like. Would it really amount to around £5k for a 2 day weekend market (where stalls are provided)?

    • Steesh

      Another idea was to try set up some sort of delivery service wherein we advertise on social media and people can order freshly prepared Chinese food through Facebook which we can delivery to people in close proximity. Any thoughts?

      • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

        We’ve not got experience of this, but here goes: you will still need a certified prep kitchen, so the Environmental Health will need to sign off your kitchen. You will also find (I would imagine) that Just Eat/Hungry House etc. are already solidly in that market. Unless your customers know that you are somehow better than the local Chinese takeaway they will just order through that, and have the convenience of the app, the rating system etc.

        Perhaps you could just get yourselves setup on Just Eat as a takeaway? I’d imagine that would be easier, although you do then give away a reasonable % of your takings and I have no idea if you would be able to do it as a home business.

        I hope it works for you!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You would be surprised how fast the coats add up, but no, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you’re smart and buy second hand equipment and concentrate on what you need, it can be done for around £1000. I’d say that’s your absolute minimum (but I have done the maths). I wouldn’t recommend running that setup for long, because there’s a reason most folks spend a lot more, but it will give you a few weeks of service, during which time you can work out if street food is for you.

      Flic

  • Emily Boussaid

    Hi there,
    Thanks for all the info you have provided. With such a wealth of information available it’s really helped make things clear.
    My husband and I are looking to start our own North African street food stall. We have limited funds to start up so a trailer/truck is not going to be possible at the moment. If we opt for a gazebo will we be able to prepare the food on site or will we need to prepare food at home and transfer to the site on the day?
    Thank you
    Emily

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      That depends on what you’re cooking, rather than any legalities. You are allowed to cook from scratch on site as long as you can demonstrate (with cleaning records, method statement and HACCPs) that your food is safe. Before you start to trade your local Environmental Health officer may want to see your stall set up, or they may just be happy to review your documentation – it depends which Council you’re in.

      Good luck with it!

  • Daddy G

    Hi there, thanks for the ghreat advice. What’s a reasonable fee for an event organiser to charge a food vendor for a small event that they expect a minimum of 2000 people at?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Tricky one. It depends on a whole number of variables. Most importantly it’s about how many hot food traders they will have there. Get that information out of them, and then check out this post. Try and get the pitch fees between 10 and 20% of what you can reasonably earn during the event.

      • Daddy G

        I think there will be a total of 4 hot food vendors, plus an artisan coffee and cake van. Thanks for the link 🙂

  • Matt

    Hi, just wondering are you allowed to set up like an ice cream van? Drive along and park up on the side of the road serve the food and move on? Thanks Matt

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Matt,

      The short answer is no. In theory ice cream vans must get approval for every single place they stop and pay a rent for those spots. Obviously they don’t do either of these things. It is an area where local councils all take the licence money and then pretend it isn’t happening because there have always been ice cream vans.

      However, as a hot food sellers we are held to higher standards and we do need permission. There are situations where you can just set up on a street. In certain areas of the country (not many), some roads, are designated as “unrestricted” this mean that as long as you are in safe place and are not causing a blockage on the road then you can rock up and sell on these roads at any time (assuming they have hawker and food licences). These places are rare (and becoming even more so) and so if you want to sell Streetfood you either need to get a permanent pitch approved by the council or join existing markets/events

      Good luck

      Barny

  • Lewis Tonks

    Hi, thanks for posting all this really helpful information. I was wondering if you knew whether I would need a gas safety certificate for using a gas urn and dual hob at events (outside of any van)? I’m not clear on when a gas safety certificate is applicable. Many thanks. Lewis.

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Lewis,

      I am glad you have found this useful.

      In answert to your question yes you will still need a Gas Safety certificate. All commercial LPG set ups (regardless of how small) need to be safety checked. This includes testing flame failure devices, all pipe work and connectors along with the clips holding any rubber tubbing in place. If you have your van tested already the same technician should also be able to test another rig. Each year when we have our van tested we gat out gazebo equipment tested as well, just incase

      Good luck for 2016

      Barny

  • mijanou

    hi There we are looking into our festival equipment requirements for our gazebo based street food business. WE have hand wash covered but do you know what gazebo based units use for pot and utensil washing ? eg sinks with water pumps etc … how do we get a hot water supply other than from a water boiler ? Do you know what is expected ?

    Cheers

    M

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi,

      You will need a pot wash area of some type. This must be separate from your hand wash for hygiene reasons.

      For a pot wash you will need a source of hot water and a source of cold potable water (stored in no bigger than 20litre bottles) and some where to wash and dry everything. You can do this entire thing by using a tea urn a water bottle and a washing up bowl. However, I recommend that you make a proper sink for your self. Investing now will make your life easier and cleaner on site over the summer. All you need to do is by a trestle table a normal kitchen sink and then cut a hole in the table so the sink can fit into it. put a waste water bucket underneath and you have a perfect washing/drying area.

      good luck

      F

      • Mijanou

        You are awesome!! Thank you so much M xg

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi,

    I would like to apply for a street food pitch in London.
    Not in food market, I would like to go in a busy corner, or near tube station.
    How could I apply for that?

    I have few spot in my mind.
    Do you think the local council have a special map where could I put my stall, and select an available pitch?
    Or do I need to send them location addresses what I think should be good, and ask is it available, and what price? (E.g. I send them 5-6 postcodes/street addresses, and ask for the price)

    (PS: It will be a gazebo and a small table, as I have no money for a trailer.
    I know I have to put my car somewhere around the pitch. This problem will be including in my question when I will ask the council.)

    Thank you
    A

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi,

      If you want a perminant pitch you will need to decide where exacty you want to setup. Then you need to apply to the local authority to have that pitch approved in that location. Each council has its own procedure for this type of pitch application but they all follow a general pattern. They want to know where you will be and when, what you are going to serve and weather you will improve the location you will be in (this includes safety, affect on local businesses and viability)

      However, in London there are hundred of people just like you trying to get a perminant pitch approved all the time. This means you will have to have proof of concept as well as a proven track recod of trading safely as a food business

      Good luck

      Barny

  • Kelly Potter

    Hi. I currently run a pop up candy shack business. This year I plan to extend my business to cooking burgers and hot dogs too. We work very closely with an outdoor cinema company so all these things go hand in hand! I will probably get a separate gazebo to serve the hot food from. What equipment and insurance etc will I need? I already have a food hygiene certificate and my candy shack is already registered with my local council. Just any info you can give me would be great!

    Thank you

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Kelly,

      All the information about insurance etc is covered in the blog post above. In our book you will find an exhaustive list of the equipment you will need when cooking and selling hot food. Here is a link to the Amazon page

      http://amzn.to/1SbuAnP

      Good luck with your expansion.

      Barny

  • Ocsy Róka Koma

    Hi,
    There is no information how to park my trailer. (Not for trading, just parking nights, when I dont need)

    Where could I leave my trailer?
    Is it free to put on normal street car park and leave? Residental parking, and parking permit only areas?
    Or estate car park?
    Can I leave on single yellow, or on a pevement if I leave enough space for pedestrians?

    What rules apply to park a trailer?

    I couldn’t find information about.

    Andras

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Andras,

      the rules for parking a trailer are the same as parking a car. It depends on your location and rules for the highways in your area. The best thing to do is contact your local council and ask them. Remember that a trailer is very easy to steal, all you need to do is attach it to a car a drive away. I’d advise renting a secure lock up if you don’t have your own driveway to keep it on

      Barny

  • Sam Myrdal

    Hi, what about business/retail parks? There are 2 fairly large businesses parks near where I live. The type of food I would like to sell would appeal to office workers on a lunch break at least I think it would….It also means I could get a steady lunchtime/breakfast trade Monday-Friday what restrictions from local council or owners of the land would be put in place? How much would I expect to pay to set up a van/stall directly outside one of the large offices? And also how easy is it to rock up at reception and try to sell my wears to people at their desk? If you don’t really know as it’s never been part of your business model who would?
    Regards
    Sam

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      This is a great potential market, but you will struggle to convince business parks to talk to you. Here’s the problem: I am on the end of the email for the Upper Wigglesham Technology Park and get contacted by an eager food trader, or even several.
      It’s not my problem. So I forward it to someone whose problem it might be. They consider it, but overall it really doesn’t sound like their problem. They did speak to Natalie in Facilities once though, so perhaps its her problem. She maybe even reads the email, considers it, but it sounds like a whole lot of work for no return, as it’s not included in the bonus scheme.

      If you can crack this I think the workers would love it, but it will be extra work for someone and even if you’re paying pitch fees it will be peanuts for big tech park and won’t benefit the Someone who has to organise it.

      You may have more luck approaching individual offices directly, as they will probably be more than happy for you to rock up if they have no cafeteria, but to make it economically worthwhile you will probably need to hit several offices in a single lunch hour, and logistically that will be a struggle. This turf is more usually covered by the ever-so-mobile cold sandwich van.

      In terms of legalities you are fine if it’s on private land, as you are trading at their invitation. However if there are multiple vans or any public access you will need council blessing.

      It can be done though! Best of luck with it!
      Flic

  • Jen

    Hi, I really love your website and it’s been hugely helpful in planning to set up my own mobile catering business. I’m trying to put together a cost for starting up and one thing I’m struggling to get my head around is car insurance.

    I plan to use a gazebo setup so I won’t have a separate trading vehicle but will instead be using my car to transport equipment and food to events. Any idea whether this counts as “commercial travel” or whether I would be covered under regular business car insurance? It seems like commercial car insurance is usually for taxi drivers and delivery people, but I’m unclear whether as mobile caterers we fall in this category too?

    Thanks for any help you can offer,

    Jen 🙂

    • Jen

      Or even if I’m only doing the occasional weekend event could I get away with “private and occasional business use” car insurance?

      • jabberwockyfood

        Hi Jen,

        I am glad you like the website.

        My advice in terms of insurance would be to check with you insurance company on what is acceptable for your current insurance. When you come to re-new you should be able to choose business use in the uses of the car like you say. This is what we do so that if we need to transport our gazebo setup around or go to the wholesaler we are covered.

        Good luck

        Barny

  • daniel giovinco

    hi guys i like this website
    My question is if i rent a shop and they have A1 for Retails and i would like to make a salads shop selling salads
    i need a licences to apply? and i put some electric grill for cooking the chicken
    will be great if you can give more details

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Daniel,

      Sorry but I can’t offer any advice on premises rules, we have some experience but you will have to find someone with better knowledge then us.

      Good luck with your project

  • sananikate

    Hello,
    So happy to have found your website which seems to have loads of useful info. My partner wants to start a street food business and is just starting to look into it (with me in a supporting role).
    I would just like to ask if you have done or have heard any feedback on the NCASS ‘Street Food EU’ online training course? My partner’s native language is French, and as the NCASS course is available in a few languages and it would be easier for him to read by himself in French.
    However as the NCASS course is £60 I just wondered if you had any idea whether it is worth it? Do you know if it provides any info or benefits that are not covered in your book? If not then I will just buy your book and resign myself to the role of translator! Thanks

    • Flic Luxmoore

      Glad you liked the site!
      The course didn’t exist when we started out, nor have I met anyone who has completed it, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there. They did chat to us while they were working on it, and interviewed us once or twice for it.

      Obviously I’m going to recommend the book – we have had a lot of feedback from folks saying that it really was helpful (yey!). Maybe go for book OR course initially, and if you still feel like you need more preparation have a go at the other one?

      Either way, best of luck to you both and hopefully see you out on the streets soon!

  • Robert Ricks

    Hi Guys, I run a food stall in Australia and have been for about 8 months now, full time for 4 months. My question is food cost…If im selling a dish for $12 should it cost no more than $2 on the plate? Taking into account that I only ever need one extra staff member, maybe 2 when getting fully slammed.
    Thanks
    Rob

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi,

      I would say that you are on pretty great margins there. We always hope to achieve a 70% gross profit (so food cost of 30%) not including packaging. You are currently on 84%. I would say great as long as what people are getting is worth the money.

      The 70% is only a guide line and depending on the prep time involved this might have to change.

      Good luck

      Barny

  • Dermot Reeves

    Could you give any advice if you were thinking of serving alcohol (craft beers) as a street food vendor? What sort of licenses would you need? Thanks

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Dermot,

      To sell alcohol the very least you would need is a personal Liscence (1 day course and around £300). Plus a TEN (temporary events notice). However, you would need to have permission from the market organiser as well.

      Some councils get very upset about Street vendors and alcohol. So before you spend any money I suggest you talk to the Liscening department at your local council who will be able to give you midi better than we can

      Good luck

  • Matthew

    Hi, I was wondering about your experiences with NCASS, mainly their insurance (http://www.ncassinsurance.co.uk/). I’m thinking about looking to them for insurance for a street food business I’ve been slowly working towards for a few years right now. I’ve been hearing its quite expensive working with them but also it’s great cover and customer service, so I’m a bit unsure.

    Sorry, I know it seems a silly thing to ask but you’d mentioned it and I was curious.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      NCASS insurance is done through a nominated partner, so the insurer they use changes. We get a quote from their nominated company every year though, and they are usually competitive. The thing about public liability insurance is that you have to have it, but unlike car insurance, it’s far less likely you will ever use it (I hope!). For this reason, as long as you are going with a reputable company, I’d be looking for the cheapest rather than one that will necessarily handle you claim best.

      Good luck getting there and sorry for the delay responding, we missed you somehow!

      • http://www.bronneberg-recycling.co.uk/en/ John Grant

        Thanks for getting back to me 🙂 I’m not quite there yet but soon!

  • Lucas Pato Lambert

    Hello there, Would you recommend a till or money belt as a festival trader?
    Thank you!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      It’s all about accountability. Money belts are very quick, but have no record of what you have sold, and all the maths has to happen inside your head. A till is slower, but obviously keeps track, and can add up, even after a 16 hour day. If you have staff handling cash then you probably want a till, especially if you are dealing in change smaller than 50p. It takes away any suspicion of dodgy dealings and means the change will be much more accurate.

      If you are taking the cash yourself and can work out -why the hell has this customer has just given me £11 when I only asked for £6- after a long day, then get money belts. You can use your buns/cups/trays to keep track of sales instead.

  • Murad

    Hello, thank you for all tips!! Two particular questions:

    i) how to find the most suitable van, i.e. how would such equipment be named – if I don’t need gas/electric oven, but instead I need draft beer container (to find pre-equipped will probably be cheaper than customise the van)?

    ii) most of such vans probably need to be connected to venue’s AC plug? Or some are working autonomously by diesel? (note: only refrigerators/lighting – no hot food).

    Thanks!! Murad

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Murad.

      I’m glad you found the blog useful

      i) I am not sure what the equipment is called exactly (as we are not sellers of booze) but you can get self contained units for pumping and chilling beer as it is served. It will be cheaper to customise the van yourself , but if you get someone else to do the work it will be very expensive compared to a second hand van on ebay.

      ii) the easiest way to deal with power is always to use outside power. Trying to run off the engine (like in an ice cream van) is a bad idea. You might over heat the engine, or lose power half way through the day plus it is expensive and difficult to set up. It is much easier to use outside power or if you need to be self sufficient get a generator (Honda is best).

      Good luck

  • Jon Haslam

    Hi, firstly thanks for this excellent guide! I’m in the process of starting my street food business up here in Cheshire. My product is Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I’d like to use a good quality Sourdough bread with each sandwich being of similar size, minimising as much waste as possible. Are suppliers able to bake these loaves into the shape I require? (More rectangular than the normal rounded shape). Thanks in advance!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Jon,

      There is no reason why a baker can’t make a sourdough loaf in any shape you want it. My recommendation would be to find a small artisan bakery where you can work with a baker to get exactly the loaf you want. This is what we have done. It does take some time and it is not the cheapest bread you will able to get hold of. But it will taste better and will improve your credentials and brand.

      A word of warning. Make sure that your baker is going to be able to make hundreds of the loaf you decide upon. Further down the line you don’t want to find out that your suppliers cannot produce all the food your needs (friends of ours have just found this out the hard way and now cannot expand with their current suppliers). Also if you are suing a small bakery be prepared that your will not have the uniform product you would get from Kingsmill, but then that’s the point!

      Good luck

      Barny

      • Jon Haslam

        Thanks for your advice!

  • Pairic

    Hi,
    I’m becoming a bit despondent about getting off the ground due to restrictions in home kitchen and lack of commercial kitchen space rental in Scotland. In your experience are people able to use solely their trucks for preparation and selling food or is this not really feasible? (understanding that this will depend on the type of food). Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      You’re right, it really does depend on the food. Yes it can be done. If you don’t do any off-site prep then you can get your setup (van or gazebo) certified and just do everything when you arrive on site. Although I’m not sure if that applies to Scotland.Talk to the environmental health officer at the council. They can explain what you need to do to get your kitchen up to spec. They are there to help you trade safely, not to stop you trading, and will probably appreciate a pro-active “I’m-trying-to-learn” approach.

      Commercial kitchens are probably not going to be viable if you’re just starting out; I’d save that for when you expand further down the line.

      Good luck!

  • Jon Haslam

    Hello again!

    I’ve decided to use a natural gas griddle for my Sandwiches as I feel this will work out cheaper and give me more overall control. This one i’m looking at has a thick steel cooking plate. Do you have any advice on the cooking plate itself please? Would you suggest cast iron or chrome would be a better alternative bearing in mind it will be used primarily for grilled cheese sandwiches along with weights to press them down?

    http://aceuktrading.com/Joomla/Commercial-Catering-Griddles/Gas-Griddle-Natural-Gas-90cm.html

    Many many thanks!

    Jon

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Natural gas is the stuff that comes to your house in pipes. If you’re going gas, you need LPG.

      In terms of the plate, thicker will have better heat retention and distribution, but you have to think about carrying it as well. If you want to be able to do events by yourself from a gazebo setup then a massive heavy griddle will stop you in your tracks. That thick plate also takes much longer to cool down (and therefore move, get home and finish for the day) after the event as well.

      • Jon Haslam

        Thanks for the info x

  • Luca Giampietro

    Hi everyone, can i sell in any location i want or there’s any permission i have to ask? If for example i want to serve hot food in front of charing cross station (london) what authority i have to ask to?
    Thanks

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Luca,

      In short:
      No you can’t trade any where you like
      Yes you have to get permission
      No I have no idea what local authority Charing cross is located within (Take a look at the FSA website, that will tell you http://www.food.gov.uk/)

      Good luck

      Barny

      • Luca Giampietro

        Thank’s for your response, one more question, if I’m using charcoal do i need a special permission ?

        • jabberwockyfood

          No you don’t need special permission. You might need to tell the company providing your Public Liability Insurance.

          I would also recommend telling any event you plan on trading at that you will be cooking on charcoal. This is because you will be producing smoke and they organiser might want to site you in a particular place to minimise the effect on other traders/public.

          Good luck

  • Lizzy

    Hi there

    I’ve read your book and have found it so useful and have not stopped referring to it while writing my business plan so thank you so much.

    What I’m really stuck with is the market research part of the business plan. As the aim is to trade at different events, I am unsure how to properly conduct market research when many of the events will be completely different types of events each time, may be one-offs and if not may have different food caterers there each time. Without going to each and every single event I find to have a look around how am I to know what other traders are there, how many people etc. It seems a lot more difficult than say a permanent pitch where I could just look to see what other traders are there and look at the footfall etc.

    I was thinking of including a calendar of all the different events I could find for the next 6 months for example and saying ‘this is potentially what the calendar could look like’ if that makes sense. But then it’s highly unlikely I would secure all of those events so it’s probably not a true reflection of the work we would get. So my other query is whether there is a rough guide of the ratio of how many events you apply for compared to how many you actually get?

    Also do you think it would be worth contacting the events organisers at this early stage to ask how much the pitch would be etc and say would you consider us when we are up and running? (Keeping it in mind that the business is just a plan at the minute without even a name)

    Sorry for the essay I’m just really stuck with this part and any help you can think of with market research would be hugely appreciated!

    Thanks so much
    Lizzy

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Lizzie,

      Thanks for buying the book. I hope it continues to be useful on your adventure.

      Right I will try to answer all your questions as best as I can:

      1) You will find that it is hard to estimate sales for the various events that you will trade at. A permanent pitch is much easier to gauge. Even the same event 2 weeks apart can result in completely different sales figures. It depends on who else is trading and the big one – what the weather is doing that day! The best advice would be to refer to the portion equation in the book (assume your popularity will be a factor of 1). The other way to do it is to assume a % of sales will used as pitch fees at each event. A lot of smaller events are now happy to accept a % this will vary from 10-25% depending on the event. This might be the easiest thing to do for the purposes of the business plan.

      2) when you apply to events (in particular festival and big events) your success rate will depend a lot on 2 major factors. Firstly, what you are serving. If you are doing burgers/pork baps/pizza or any of the other popular foods there is a lot of competition for spots at events so it is hard to push an established trader out so you can get the space. Most events will only have 1 of each food type. However, if you are doing something a bit unusual or event unique then you will find that it is much easier to get into events. As you will occupy a new niche inside the event. If you are the former you will looking at a success rate of 10% if you are lucky the latter you might manage 30% success rate. Be prepared to get a lot of rejections at first, it sucks but it gets better and after a few years you don’t even need to apply to regular events you just send a quick email and some certificates and everything is sorted.

      You could try contacting events now, but it is unlikely that organisers will be willing to give out pitch fee info to a non trader.to give you an idea; small events £100’s large events £1000’s

      The best thing to do is find a small local event and get out there and trade. Find out how your product sells and if you enjoy it (you will this is an awesome job) before you get bogged down too much in the business side of it.

      I hope the rambling answer helps

      Barny

  • Ste

    Hello!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your book and the insights it has given but I wondered if you could help with a question I haven’t seen covered yet?

    Is there a typical time I can expect to be allowed to set up on site, before selling would commence? If for example I wanted to sell a slow cooked product (12hr plus). Can I typically set up my equipment the night before and do the cooking in situ. Or would this level of prep be needed to be done before hand and somply reheated on the day?

    I assume there are variances depending on the venue, but would be keen to know a typical set up when trying to get my head around a work model.

    Thank you for any insight you can give!

    Steve

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Steve,

      I am glad you liked the book. Hopefully it helps you on your street food journey.

      You are correct that arrival times will vary depending on the venue and event.

      For a single day event, it is usual to arrive 2 or 3 hours before any customers arrive. So in this case you would have to pre-cook any slow cooked foods and re-heat them. However, if you are doing a cook to order product like burgers you can cook on site, even something like a curry is great to cook on site as it adds to the spectacle and the amazing aromas will entice customers in.

      If you are doing a multi-day event (like a festival) then you will be able to set up a day or 2 before the punters arrive. This means that you could easily cook on site. Again this would be good for adding to the overall experience and cut down prep time at home but might cause service to be slower!

      The moral is that to be able to do many types of event you will have to be flexible in your approach to coking where possible

      Good luck

      Barny

  • Sophie

    Hi

    Thank you so much

  • Sophie

    Sorry, I pressed the wrong key!

    I was saying… Thank you so much for all the information you have shared on your site. It’s been so helpful. We’ll be making and selling from a gazebo and I’m not sure on refrigeration rules. At the moment it’s just cheese so am thinking a cool box would be ok? Although we may cook with meat at some point… Thank you!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Sophie,

      I am glad you have found the info useful (there is a load more in the book).

      In terms of refridgeration a cool box is fine. You just need to ensure that the temperature inside the cool box stays at an acceptable level. That means it must remain under 8 C (ideally under 5C). To manage this you will need A LOT of cool packs and try to minimise the amount you open the box during a day. Plus you will need to monitor and record the internal temperature of the box a couple of times each day.

      If you think yo will need frequent access to the contents of the cool box it is worth looking at getting something like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Igloo-MaxCold-Large-Quart-Litre/dp/B004UAMVVM/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1462283731&sr=8-6&keywords=cool+box+large
      where you get a small hatch on the top so you can easily grab an item without opening the entire box (so the temperature remains lower for longer)

      If you are planning multiple day events (ie festival) then you will need to get some fridges. Cool boxes are only really useful for a day events. However, get a new one, just get an old one on ebay and use it until it falls apart and replace it. If you are humping around the country it is going to get knackered anyway.

      Good luck with your venture

      Barny

  • Charlotte

    Thank you for all the advice on this site, it is so generous of you both to give your time and expertise so freely. I rarely have my nose out of your book and keep going back to check details or specifics.
    I wonder if you can help answer a question i have in regards starting a catering van? Basically, am I too late to start a business for this season of summer events? I plan to operate a trailer and cater for local events such as food fairs etc. I’m concerned that existing companies will have applied already and I will have spent money on the start up but have no bookings to start to cover my costs etc.
    This venture will be part time and mainly at the weekends and school holidays ( due to my existing job)
    Also do you have any knowledge on converting horse boxes ( a possible option) ?

    Thank you and kind regards
    Charlotte

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Welcome to street food! It will depend on your area really. If you are within driving distance of a good sized city then there will be enough events going on that you will still get pitches at late notice. We’re picking up bits for 2017 at the moment, but we’re also filling the end of may. You will need to do a lot more leg work as music festivals will be out now, so google for “[any local town] festival” and keep your ear to the ground.
      As a basic rule of thumb, every single town and village has something at some point over the summer, you just have to track it down. Put anything you find in a spreadsheet, there begins research for next year.

      Converting is something we are still working on. In the UK the rules are basically the same for whatever you trade from: as long as it’s safe and hygienic, you can serve food from it, so horse boxes, once thoroughly scrubbed and properly kitted out, are fine. I’ll be updating our progress and adding more info over the coming weeks (possibly months: baby) here.

  • Luca Giampietro

    Hi again, I’ve just bought your book,
    I wanted to ask you as i will sell meat, for the beginning can i use as a storage a box/garage and put in a frige and freezer or do i need a special place with special permission to store my food? Also if i will get all the permission and certificates from wandsworth council in london, can i trade for example in camden market wich is camden council or do i need to get all the certificate from them too?
    ( you guys are amazing, thank’s for spend your time helping us, also i can’t wait to read your book!! Great job guys

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Regarding your special place (for meat)(made it worse): If you designate an area of your kitchen as “business”, with its own storage, fridges and prep space, you should be covered. There are multiple hygiene inspections before you get a rating, so your EHO will be able to give you more guidance – it bears repeating: they’re there to help you trade safely, not to stop you trading.

      Once Wandsworth council have signed you off you are good to trade anywhere in the country from a hygiene point of view (who knows, perhaps anywhere in Europe until the referendum). Good luck!

  • Jacob

    Hi, great website! Incredibly helpful. But I couldn’t find anything on this subject…
    I am starting a street food business making essentially sandwiches and I am planning everything. The only thing I am stumped on is suppliers if you have any tips. I am considering whether to go for the butchers/local suppliers or wholesalers as each has their pros and cons but I would like your opinion.
    My product is naturally at the lower end of the scale in terms of price but I still want quality so I am considering whether raise my prices or potentially sacrifice the more expensive suppliers. Many Thanks!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Jacob,

      Our opinion is that you should always use small, local, independent suppliers where ever is sensible. Yes the product will not be as consistent or as cheap. However, the taste will be better, and this is what should always drive your thinking. If your food tastes great customers will come back over and over again for it.

      Being cheap will get you a customer once but they won’t come back again unless you do quality food

      On a related note customers usually don’t care where you are sourcing your food (s long as it tastes good) but events do these days. A lot of festivals and organisers will give preference to people with good sourcing credentials.

      Good luck out there

      Barny

  • Louis greer

    Hiya!
    Congrats on the ‘Jabbermini’ I hope you are both enjoying the juggle and your business is going well. I read your book recently and found it both immensely enjoyable and very informative, invaluable for me starting up in Street Food! Thanks so much for writing it.

    Very quick question: I am considering buying a truck that has all the kit (like loads) has been deep cleaned and its road worthy. But, it’s 8 metres long and 3 metres wide.

    Is this too big? I am getting desperate as there are no other vans (with kit) in reasonable condition out there in my budget of 5-8k and want to get out there.

    Now – back to baby/grilling cheese/saving the world/writing your’e next book – for you!

    Thanks in advance,

    Louis Greer

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Louis! Thanks 🙂

      Don’t worry too much about the kit: you won’t know what kit you need until you start serving (unless you’re doing something very standard). The layout will be perfect for the previous owner, so unless you are selling the same thing they sold, you will probably want to restructure anyway to get your workflow right.

      The van sounds like a good choice for a festival vehicle. A nice big, eye-catching truck will stand out in a big field. On the other hand street food events may struggle to fit you in. Markets may have trouble as well. 6m is really your top end unless the vehicle you’re using is horrifically cool, and they can’t afford not to have you. More than 6m means they can’t fit two traders in that spot, if you see what I mean.

      Another consideration is that at these big festivals you often pay for frontage. So you need to be able to pump the food out all the way along as much of that 8 meters as possible to justify the extra cost of getting a big unit in. OR you need to provide extra value to the festival in the form of covered seating or activities inside your unit. That makes this a big project for a first timer, but if you nail it then there is a lot of potential (read: money) in festival food.

      • Louis Greer

        Hi Felicity.
        Thanks again for your time and help. I have been in the USA’s Music Triangle on holiday (researching/sampling/pigging out on some amazing food and drinks) – just got back to read your great advice. The big beast I was interested in has now been sold – so fate has told me it was not to be! I’m back on the hunt for a van/truck now with earnest now, so if any of your readers or friends know of any on the market that can help – there’s some great food and beers on their way to you! Cheers, Louis

  • Tom Upex

    Hi there! Really helpful blog you have here so thanks for that!

    I am completely new to the street food scene, I don’t work in hospitality and I never have done, but recently I got a flyer through my door asking for stall holders for a local fair. I have grand plans of opening a (hot) meatball sandwich stall, but after a bit of research I’m a little stumped as to what exactly I need to get up and running and legal. At the moment I think I need public liability insurance, a food safety certificate and probably a PAT tested salamander and hob. Does this sound about right? And if so do you have any suggestions of where to get the public liability insurance from? I am looking to move into the food industry in one shape or form soon and this seems like a great way to start!

    Thanks,

    Tom

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Tom!

      It sounds like you’re coming from a standing start, so without wanting to sell too heavily, you should probably try the book. The list of things you need to get up and running is pretty long and requires quite a lot of explanation, which is all in there.

      You do definitely need PLI, that’s a big one. We find it each year in the same way you did car insurance before comparison websites: ring each one and get the cheapest. More details in this comment.

  • Jon Haslam

    Hi

    Since I last spoke to you I’ve purchased your book and have found it to be full of great tips and advice so many thanks!
    Initially I was looking at getting a double contact sandwich press (for our Grilled Cheese stall) however I now realise that these are primarily only electric powered. As we’ve decided to use gas we’re looking at getting a Parry PGF800 lpg polished stainless steel griddle. The hot plate is 6mm thick (Is this likely to warp?!), it has 3 stainless steel burners and power is: 28,149Btu/hr (8.25kW). We also plan to use flat irons to press the sandwiches. I was wondering if you had any knowledge of Parry products and perhaps any advice on whether you think this griddle would suffice for use on our local food markets?

    Once again thanks for all the info you provide in the book and this blog… The book is FANTASTIC and I highly recommend it to anybody starting out!

    Jon

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Jon,

      I think you are right to go for a gas grill. It is unlikely the grill will warp, as you have got a good brand. We have a good friend who has been using your model for 3 years and it is still going strong. We have even bought the PGF1000 for our new van so I think you have made a good choice. We are big fans of Parry equipment. It is a good brand which can stand to be used at high volumes, but it doesn’t weigh too much so can be carried around. It should keep you going at all type of events. It will take some getting used to (especially keeping the plate at the right temperature) but I am sure it won’t take you long to perfect.

      I am glad you enjoyed the book. If you have the time a review on Amazon would be a appreciated.

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Street-Food-Soliloquy-Starting-Running-UK-Business/dp/1511940050/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463559501&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=streetfood+soliloquoy

      Good luck on your cheesy adventure.

      Barny

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  • Sally Knight

    Hi there, I have had thoughts of starting a pizza truck for some time now, but have really been totally clueless on where to start, i bought your book, which was brilliant, and did answer a lot of my questions, so i had a rare moment of madness, went out and bought a trailer….now Ive totally freaked out, and think Ive made a big mistake. Initially I am only looking to have a crack at boot sales at the weekends as i have a full time job to work around, so i would probably only get to three events per month, if that, just to test the water. My question is this: do I still have to register as a company, and register with HMRC for this little part time hobby? I know that I will have to register with the council, get PLI, PAT and gas tests etc…..but am I able to go out and dip my toe without getting as serious as forming a company etc? At the moment, I am making myself ill with stress and worry, and I really dont have any support or anyone to ask, but i dont want to start spending out on kitting out the trailer just to lose out and lose my life savings in the process……I would really appreciate your thoughts and advice.
    Many thanks
    Sally

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Sally!

      Usual disclaimer: I’m not an accountant. I would advise seeking professional advice etc etc. Good stuff.

      If you are taking money off the general public then yes, you need to be a proper company. This can mean as little as setting up as a sole trader, which can be done up to a year after you first start taking cash, as long as you keep your books in order. Which in turn can be an excel spread sheet.

      The company is not the scary part to be honest. There are lots of guides out there that will walk you through it and explain in much more detail than I can. The scary part is that all that paperwork together looks like a mountain. Take it one thing at a time and it’s really not so bad.

      Don’t panic. I’m not sure f you’ve bought the oven yet, but if you have then pizza ovens hold their value well so even if it sits in your shed for a year you won’t lose out much. If you haven’t; try and get some work experience with a street food trader selling pizza. Work for free and most people will be happy to let you pick their brains. In terms of your first events: I’d recommend food festivals or similar – the spend is higher than at car boots. If you do need more help you can get us on board as consultants (but seriously, get work experience first – it’s free!).

      Best of luck!
      Flic

      • Clare Slattery

        Hi, just seen your post and I am a tax advisor! Go to see an accountant to get it sorted; we all tend to give a short meeting free of charge and it should put your mind at rest, if you have the right advisor, they will hold your hand as much as you need to begin
        Good luck!

  • pyala

    Hi

    I am new in food stall business. i have an event and for that I need to power my bain marie (1.2 KW) , there is no electricity available. What is the easiest way to power it ?

    Thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      A 2kva generator will be easiest, but it’s worth considering if you actually need it: Can you hot-hold on your grill (stick a chaffing dish on one end)? Can you cook to order?

      Basically a genny is a very expensive way to keep a stuff warm. Especially if this is only a one off event. Hire one if you possibly can, as cheap ones bought in a rush tend to break.

      Good luck!

  • Jon Haslam

    Hi, thanks for your advice so far, you’ve been great and the book has helped massively.
    I’ve just purchased a brand new Parry PGF800 Griddle which I’m intending to use solely with a 19kg LPG gas bottle in my gazebo at outdoor markets/events. I’m aware that there’s a few grey areas regarding the use of LPG and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction regarding which regulator and hoses I’d need for this specific griddle and whether or not current legislation allows me to connect the Griddle up myself? Do I need a gas safety sign off by an engineer (considering it’s a brand new griddle)?. Any advice in this area would be greatly appreciated.. I’m getting so many different opinions! Thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Jon!

      Usual disclaimer: I am not a gas safe engineer. I’d strongly recommend seeking professional advice.

      If you have one brand new gas appliance you can run that directly off a single gas bottle with a regulator. It doesn’t need a gas safe test in its first year as it’s new, but the hose and regulator should be fitted by a gas safe engineer. You can get plug-and-play kits for them these days, which give you a proper leak-proof seal that you can connect yourself without being an engineer, but that initial installation should be done by a professional. It’s a safety thing, so I really would pay to get it done properly, it’s not especially expensive (should be less than £50).

      Good luck!

      • Jon Haslam

        You’re a star thanks

  • Rosie Harmer

    Hello, thank you for your advice. One quick question- can I use my own kitchen to prep food or do you have to have a commercial kitchen?
    Thanks
    Rosie

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Rosie,
      I have added this above as we get asked a lot – yes you can use your kitchen assuming it meets the safety standards of the environmental health officer inspecting it. You will need some extra bits and bobs to make it compliant – I’ve listed these above.

      Cheese be with you.
      Flic

  • Tim Brooks

    Hi, Loved reading your book.. Iam Torn between buying a trailer van or mobile van…i drive a 1.4 Astra that would require a towbar first…but think my engine might not be strong enough for a catering trailer of say 10ft x 6ft….also was looking at an ’02’ peugeot master..160,000 on clock, no gas or electric certs…mot till feb 17…at 3,500…might be too cheap and risky? What in your opinion would be the cheapest ‘sensible’ purchase of a mobile catering van be?. We currently run a vegan market stall, in burton, staffs, but wish to do hot food, not possible on our market. Best Wishes, Tim

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Tim!

      You are probably going to need a different car to tow a catering trailer unless you opt for a tiny one and never take any stock with you. As for the van: there are so few on the market these days that your options are limited, and there isn’t really a “sensible” price for them any more. We paid £2000 for the Beast back in the day, and he’s now miraculously worth more than that even with an extra few thousand miles on the clock.

      Have a look at this post for our best advice. Good luck!

  • Craig

    Hi, I am looking into the possibility of starting up a small mobile beverage and food business in the form of a converted van as I am being made redundant in a couple of months. Although I have savings that will cover the initial outlay to get started up, can you advise what the profitability is in a small scale business. I know this depends on what products will be being sold and how much leg work I put in. Would you advise and beverage and food combination or maybe going down a specific route and following one or the other option?
    I’ve just ordered your book off amazon.. looking forward to reading it!!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Craig!
      You are asking a question you probably already know the answer to: there is as much profitability in it as you can get out of it. We make a living, we pay the mortgage and we are happy. We don’t go on tropical holidays or drive brand new cars.

      On the other hand there are folks out there who do. They also work a lot more than us. There are also traders who had to pack it all in and go back to the day job after a year because it simply didn’t pay.

      In terms of your food/ drink: I think picking one thing and doing it better than anyone else will make your brand much clearer. And your work flow easier. And your waste lower. And you can always add another product later.
      Good luck!

  • Jamie Ongiri

    Hi, very helpful advice for someone thats doing it, written about it and seen it in different lights I’m still torn between what would be a good start. in your opinion would you recommend starting a supper club? or i have taken note on, gazeb, trailer or truck but what is suggested as the better investment in the long run?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Jamie,
      We haven’t done a supper club, so I can’t help you there I’m afraid.

      The great setup debate is very much a personal and financial preference. I would recommend you get a nice cheap gazebo setup and give it a few tries and see if you even like doing it. If it’s superfun then once you know what you need and where you want it then you can hunt for exactly the right van.

      Good luck!

  • disqus_Lz0R6qeA7e

    Hi, thanks for all of the advice in the post. We’re looking to start something up in London but have no idea about licences or the legality stuff that we would need to go through. We’re unsure where we can find all of this information comprehensively and were wondering if you would be able to help? We hoping to sell in markets around the city
    Thank you!
    Kalyani

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      We missed this one, sorry about that!
      The book has all the different legal bits you need, each with an explanation if you need something comprehensive. The London specific bits will depend on which council you are working with and what exactly you have planned. A random pitch by an A-road will be a totally different process to joining a street food market in Camden. Without knowing what you have planned I can’t really be more specific. Good luck with it!

  • Sharon Bennett

    Hi thank you for all your fantastic information. I have just purchased a very small caravan and in the throws of up cycling and reloving her to be my little pop up tea room to take to summer fete Christmas markets and weddings christenings etc as a photo booth with props. If I follow all your advice on certificates and how to book is there any thing else I need to know for my little venture. I’ve just ordered your book so looking forward to reading that.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Sharon! That’s a massive question. Could you be more specific? If you’re just looking for more general info then browse through the blog – tons of stuff there.

  • Tsvetomir

    Hi! Thanks for the effort to write this!
    You seem to understand what you are doing. I intend to open a small stall where I will sell sweet corn. Winter is coming so I assume people will buy it. But really, I need only a pot where I will boil them at home (if, of course, I meet the safety regs) and then bring it to a public place where I will sell them (and I guess a chair for me) and perhaps a sign that I am selling sweet corn.
    My question is will I need any special license? How much should I expect to pay initially for it?

    Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hello!
      Yes, you will still need to be a registered food business and you will still need to meet food hygiene requirements. Selling any hot, ready to eat food will put you in that category.

      The “special licence” is registering as a food business and getting a food hygiene rating. This process is free, but requires a fair bit of work on your part. Talk to your environmental health officer. The book will walk you through the whole process.

      Good luck!

  • Antonio Navarro

    Hi

    Firstly i’d like to start with how brilliant your book is, strongly recommend to anyone who is thinking of starting up a street food / mobile catering business.

    Having done all my research and I’m in a relatively happy place with the concept I’m about to embark on, there is one conundrum that I have yet to solve. That is do I cook with firewood or gas.

    The concept centers around grilled meats (Burgers, steaks, pork belly, sausages) accompanied with some delicious sides that take heavy influence from around the Mediterranean.

    I would like to cook using a traditional Argentinian grill using firewood.

    Though I’m not sure of the suitability of using this method, as the stall I am looking it as a (sturdy) gazebo and I feel that the smoke and heat given off by the grill may be too intense?

    Also do you know of any health and safety procedures surrounding the use of firewood?

    Part of me thinks eliminating the hassle and just using gas, but I’d feel like I was selling my soul a bit. Though if it’s a neccessary sacrifice then I’ll embrace our gas bottled friends.

    Any help on my quandary would be most grateful.

    Many thanks, Antonio

    • Paddy Besiris

      I’d also love to know about the firewood question, I’m looking to use a similar cooking set up, with either a mobile BBQ or firewood burner. I cant seem to find much in the way of info online!

      • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

        Hey Paddy,
        See Barny’s response above. If you have any specific questions that haven’t been covered let us know.
        Cheers,
        Flic

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Antonio,

      I am glad you like the book, feel free to review it on Amazon as it always helps when we get new reviews.

      Firstly we are not experts in using wood (having never cooked with it in public) so you would have to find some one who knows more than us to find out about the safety/regulations aspect of it. A local pizza seller might be a good place to start.

      However, I would say that it would make you stand out from the competition as almost everyone uses gas (or sometimes charcoal) so I think it might be worth the hassle. If you go for it make sure that it is central to your brand so can make the most of it.

      As for Gazebos they can take a lot of heat. As long as you get a good quality one that is fire retradant. If you are using wood you will have to make previsions to keep the smoke away from you/customers or any other trader around you, so maybe have the grill out the back?

      Hopefully we will see you out and about soon complete with real fire.

      Barny

  • Rachel Jack

    Hi Flic,
    Just ordered your book, looks like it will be a lot of help. I’m in the planning stages of a new business and my initial ideas are for a van but as a cafe at events. So good coffee, salads, panini and afternoon tea. I have been thinking along the lines of a lot of prep at home and use van as a means of serving things beautifully rather than cooking hot food on the spot. As a business idea, can you see any enormous glaring holes?! I had thought that this would keep on the day operational costs and wastage down.
    I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Rachel

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Rachel!
      As a business idea it sounds like you have a lot on your plate from a single van. You will need an espresso machine, a tea urn and some kind of toastie maker, plus enough refrigeration for a whole lot of salad. To then serve this magnificently will take a lot of space and, more importantly, time. People at festivals are not keen on paying for time, so fast, beautiful service will have to be your goal.
      I am an advocate of doing one thing really well in street food, so personally I would suggest limiting yourself to salads OR paninis OR afternoon tea and making the best version of that you possibly can.
      Good luck!

  • Keletchian Irene

    Goodmorning , first off all , I really like what I’ve just learned on this site . I am certainly going to by your book that s seems to be a real help for those like us who want to start a street food business in U.K. We are a couple (truck driver and cook coming from Greece. Thank you for all these informations , could I contact you if ever I have some questions after having read your book ?
    Thank you , regards
    Yannis and Irene

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hello!
      Buying the book sounds like an excellent idea! If you do need extra help beyond that please leave a comment here: we don’t answer questions “privately” because this is a free service and we want the information to be available for everyone to use and benefit from.
      If you would like more than just a quick question solving then you can hire us for a consultation. Email us for details!
      Good luck with everything,
      Flic

  • Harrison foster

    Afternoon from what I be read it seem to be straight to the point witch I like and there some very good idea for people like myself who want to start there own little. Street food. Place.

  • Chiomalanga

    Hello. My wife and me are thinking of setting out on a/n (ad)venture in the gourmet street food world and I came across this blog. Fair play to you and your husband for helping other people out so much. A lot of very tasty information. Nice one. I´ll buy the book when I get my giro, deffo. Now, I was wondering what you think of the idea of getting a motorhome and gazebo combo and doing the business in that way. All sites, occasions, locations (especially some tasteful non-noisy music festivals) considered. I am old enough to have been at various Stonehenge free festivals before the Battle of the Beanfields, and can´t really be doing with the notion of trogging around in a food van and sleeping in a tipi (again). My wife wants to serve up some exotic though not excessively complicated foreign stuff (she´s from the Far Beyond) that requires a bit of cooking things quickly on a griddle as well as reheating some prepped meat and chicken dishes. Trying to do the sums to cost a decent 4 berth camper (6 year old kid plus small friendly dog) with good storage space, a gazebo or even a Kahuna catering hut, assorted cooking equipment and it probably comes to the upper limit of the government´s low interest, long repayment period back to work bank loan. We also would be of the mind to do a bit of European festival and event touring and selling grub as we go. The question (finally) is this: why do you think more people don´t buy what I´ve said, rather than get a catering truck and sleep in discomfort? Is is that I is softer, rounder and older and less interested in roughing it than the average young hip gastropreneur of the C21? And would there be any reason we couldn´t cook the necessary pre-prepped food in our happy camper the night before a gig?Presumably we would need some sort of Elf and Safely certificate for the motorhome. I´d be interested in your thoughts if you get a chance. Good luck with all your endeavours. Danny Chiomalanga

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Danny!
      Sorry, this one slipped through the net – hopefully I can still give you some info.

      Technically there is nothing stopping you from trading out of a gazebo and sleeping in a camper behind. There are quite a few festival traders out there who do, mostly because, like you say, they have done enough wet weather camping to be past wanting to sleep in contact with mother nature. It’s something we did before we had our second unit converted, and very civilized it was too.

      Why doesn’t everyone? Well I expect people have their own reasons. The following will all apply at various levels to various people.
      – Campers break down. You are giving yourself and extra potential problem, and won’t reap any of the “hey, cool van, bro” kudos of having it parked out front.
      – Tents are cheaper. When setting up, especially if you are weighted towards street food rather than festivals, it’s an extra expense you just don’t need to spend on.
      – You can’t cook where you sleep (or, indeed, anywhere) unless it’s been signed off. So Environmental Health have to come give the kitchen their blessing. In your specific case, the dog will be a huge stumbling block here.
      -Unless you are doing nothing but camping festivals, back to back all summer, it will probably be cheaper to hire one for those specific festival weekends rather than paying for storage and upkeep.
      -Your gazebo has to have everything you would need to be comfortable at a festival anyway: fresh water, electricity, refrigeration. No need to have those things twice.
      -If you are planning to drive all your kit down in said camper then the old adage applies: a panel van may be a terrible motorhome, but it makes a bloody lovely tent.

      I hope that helps! Good luck whatever you choose and hopefully see you out and about some time.
      Flic

      • Chiomalanga

        Hello Mrs Von Wocky.

        Thanks so much for taking the time to give me such a considered response. I was thinking that we could always paint the proposed motorhome in the (undoubtedly eye-catching but as yet unconceived) ´company livery´ if we want to get the “love your van mate” factor. And it would make it easier to find on a campsite!!!

        We also want a motorhome just so we can bog off for a bit when the notion takes us, whether it´s to sell grub or not. Of course we can always offload the gear and store it easily enough when we aren´t on the circuit. It seems to be a trade off between sleeping comfortably and selling comfortably. I´ll be interested to read more (presuming it´s in the book) about your own experiences with the camper van/gazebo combo.

        If our particular gourmet concept takes off in UK/Ireland then we can always get a dedicated food truck as our second vehicle (he speculated, dreamily). I take the point about not being able to prepare the food in the camper because of our beloved dog. Thanks for the heads up on that. In the end it was easily sorted. I´ve been told it was quick and painless. Though my daughter sure will miss her . . . (;-)

        The big problem with a camper seems to be getting one – while not breaking the bank – with enough storage space at the rear (what they call the ´garage´ in the trade, for some reason) to be able to fit into it the gazebo and assorted catering equipment, small genny, etc. In that respect our cooking equipment needs would probably be on a par with yours for the toasties and their fillings. I´m hoping you go into detail in your book (due to arrive on Friday) in regard to what equipment we should be looking for.

        Most of all, my daughter really wants a ´house with wheels´, and who am I to argue? She went to five kindergardens/nurseries in five countries in four languages before she was 5, so I guess she´s a natural born wanderer like her mom and pop.

        Once again Flic, a tip of the chapeau for the amount of time you and your man give to helping folks like me. I´ll definitely buy one of your most finest toasties when I see you on the road.

        Danny

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          You’re very welcome. I don’t want to put you off the idea – it’s probably the best way to go if you have kids – those are just the reasons why we don’t all do it.

          Have fun with the hunt. I love a good van search!
          Flic

  • Darren

    I’m half way through the book and it’s an amazing insight! Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I have a question if you could answer that would be greatly appreciated. You’ve stated in the book that it would be difficult to set up a fish and chip street food business in a gazebo / stall due to the amount of oil required – this was my plan. Could you expand what you mean by that and why you believe it would be difficult?
    I’m planning to hopefully see you in action soon!

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Darren,

      I’m glad you have found the book useful so far.

      We say that fish and chips in a gazebo would be difficult for 2 reasons.

      Firstly at the end of the day you will have lots of used (and still very hot) oil to deal with. Obviously there are ways of dealing with this problem, just please be careful, I have seen what damage hot fat can do t human flesh!

      Secondly, it is the time that is needed to set up for each event. Since writing the book we have met The English Indian https://twitter.com/englishindian1 . They sell Indian inspired fish and chips from a gazebo and they do very well out of it (the food is delicious). However, I have also watched them set up and it takes a team of 3 people at least 2 hours (more like 3 hours) to get ready to serve. This is because of the shear size and volume of equipment needed for their food. I have no idea how long it takes them to pack up as I have usually long since left in the Beast. Before you make any decisions they are worth trying out.

      Good luck with your project and don’t let my negativity dampen your spirit, as long as you are passionate you can make any set up work, just look at our knackered old vans!

  • Abs

    Hi there,

    I’m almost done with your book and it’s just great! So good to read many things from experienced traders that I was already considering and aware of, but all the additional info you have given is so freakin useful. Just AWESOME.

    I have 2 questions though that I’m hoping you could help with:

    1) My partner and I are in the process of starting up a business (gazebo option) selling freshly made ravioli which specifically come from Sardinia. Although ingredients are cheap, they’ll require loads of advance prep and are quite time consuming. Storing them in cooler boxes a day before small market events is totally fine, however when it comes to multi-day big festival events, our only option is to freeze them. Are there any regulations in relation to serving food that’s been previously frozen? The idea behind this is obviously to serve ‘FRESH’ ravioli, does freezing take that definition away?
    2) We live in London and therefore have the TINIEST kitchen. We are planning on creating a new ‘business corner’ in our lounge (which is surprisingly big for London!), to use that as the main working surface(s) and storage area (fridge / freezer for ingredients, sauces and the ravioli). Again, are there any specific regulations / rules behind where the work is being done? Does it have to specifically be a ‘kitchen’? Our kitchen entrance is through the lounge so we’re thinking of it as a ‘kitchen extension’. What do you think about this set up?
    Thanks SOOOOO much for all the help you’ve given so far!
    Hope to hear from you soon 🙂
    Abs

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Abs,
      Sounds delicious! London is also a solid place for the more random food types, they are always looking for the next tasty thing. So questions!

      1. If you have frozen it, it doesn’t count as fresh. You can get round with a bit of not-quite-misleading description BUT I wouldn’t trade on “Fresh”, I’d trade on “home-made” – much sexier.
      Here are some details from food.gov.uk :

      The term “fresh” should only be used in relation to frozen or processed
      foods if its use is clear from the context. For example:
      • “frozen from fresh”
      should only be used to indicate a food was fresh (i.e. recently made or
      harvested) when it underwent freezing;
      • “made with fresh ingredients”
      should be used only where the intended meaning is that no processed
      ingredients (i.e. ingredients that have been dried, freeze-dried, frozen,
      concentrated, powdered, smoked, canned, etc) were used;
      • “made with fresh X”
      should only be used where X is the name of an ingredient that has not
      been processed and the food does not also contain processed
      equivalents of the same ingredient. For example, a food described as
      “made with fresh tomatoes” should not also contain canned tomatoes.

      2. Your prep area does not have to be a kitchen. As long as you can demonstrate that you clean that area (in a cleaning rota) and you are willing to take on any advice that they have it will probably be fine. Your best bet is to find out who covers your area, and give them a ring. If they can’t tell you over the phone they can always come out and inspect. Pro tip: make sure the whole house is spotless when they come round.

      Good luck!

      • Abs

        Hey Felicity,
        Thanks for responding so quickly and for clearing up these issues! Great advice again! Wish you guys were a bit closer, we would have dropped by and said hi 🙂 We sure will if we ever head up that way!
        Thanks again,
        Abs

  • Clara Tudela

    Hello, thanks so much for this article, it’s so helpful! Do you know of a good accountant who works on the food sector? Thank you!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Clara, thanks very much for saying so! We use a local accountant so I can’t help you there I’m afraid.

      Best of luck!
      Flic

  • Mike

    Thank you for your book and for the treasure trove of information that you’ve left behind for latecomers to this comments section – I’ve scoured around quite a bit and your’s really is one of a kind.

    My wife and I are at the stage of purchasing equipment for our gazebo, and would appreciate your thoughts on 2 points:
    1) We are looking to cook bacon and eggs (for sandwiches) and are unsure whether to go with a 3-burner griddle or gas rings with a smallish paella style pan. Any insight between these in terms of ease of cooking and ease of cleaning?
    2) We are looking to toast sliced bread but are mindful of your advice to avoid electricity wherever possible – are you aware of any non-electric toasting options out there?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Thanks very much for saying so! To the questions!
      1) a griddle is much more flexible. I’d use the paella pans for visual, large scale, one pot cooking, but they are not really terribly practical for individual items. Rule of thumb: griddle for items, paella pans for stuff. Cleaning will be easier on a griddle as you can go to town with a grill scraper on the flat surface.
      2) You can toast bread on a griddle, but it takes time. Otherwise look for an lpg salamander for fast, supervised toasting. If you are looking for high volume toast generation then you may have to accept the cost of the electricity and invest in a conveyor toaster.

      Good luck!

  • Carey Karlberg

    Hello, thanks for the amazing book that you wrote .. it’s very helpful.

    I have a few questions are still unanswered after reading the book. Many of the festivals that I have now been chosen for start at 2K, and festival capacity is from 10,000. So my question is how do vendors work out the figures for these types of festivals? Also, if one is selling cold drinks or food add-ons … is that is taken in to consideration in terms of the amount of portions one would need to take?

    Any help in regard to this would really help.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Carey!
      If this is your first year and these are your first events I would be mindful of taking on too many 2k+ pitches. It’s worth cutting your teeth on smaller events and then scaling when you have a feel for things like potions and service speed. The portion equation will give you a good place to start, but only experience of you cooking your food in your unit will give you anything accurate.

      I would personally add drinks and sides on as a bonus, not included in the overall numbers.

      As a quick calculation based on your numbers using the percentage (as we don’t have the other caterer numbers). £2000 is to be 10% of your takings for the weekend in the best case scenario: You want to take £20,000 over the weekend. That means at a £6 price point you would need 3333 units.
      Please don’t take that many unless you have long shelf life on them. For multi day music festivals I’d target more like 15-20% at this stage as best case.

      Good luck!

  • Charlotte Paul

    Hello 🙂 We are currently converting a 1950’s horsebox to start our wood fired pizza company, and your book is like our bible! I apologise if this subject has been covered before, but we seem to be going round in circles with no clear answer…. hand washing & washing up? We know you need 2 separate sinks, but we just don’t know how to go about getting hot water into the trailer. We would like to have an urn so we can sell tea/coffee, so can we take the hot water from that and mix it with cold in a sink for handwashing? Same for washing up? Or do we need a separate boiler with a pump system etc etc. Gas or electric? We would like to use as little electricity as possible. I’ve seen portable hand wash basins for about £500 but they have to be connected to mains electric. Is that what most people use? What system do you have set up in the Jabberwocky, if you don’t mind me asking? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Flic Luxmoore

      Hi Charlotte,

      I am glad you liked the book.

      So hand washing! The easiest was to cover handwashing is by buying yourself a handwash sink. They are quite pricey, but they give you running water which you need for hand washing. They are electric, but not terribly power hungry. Ours runs off the 1kva generator that also powers all our lights and fridge. Water mixed in a bowl isn’t food safe and your EHO will get upset at the idea. Other options are using a flask or a pumpable hand wash unit that you pre-fill. It’s worth checking with your EHO which they would prefer or whether they are OK with the cheaper option.

      A tea urn is great for heating water of all kinds, and lets you sell lovely, lovely tea, plus your can easily get an LPG one. We wash up at festivals in flexi tub filled from the tea urn. They also double as a place to store washing up before you do a wash. Dead useful.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with everything!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Charlotte,

      I am glad you liked the book.

      So hand washing! The easiest was to cover handwashing is by buying yourself a handwash sink. They are quite pricey, but they give you running water which you need for hand washing. They are electric, but not terribly power hungry. Ours runs off the 1kva generator that also powers all our lights and fridge. Water mixed in a bowl isn’t food safe and your EHO will get upset at the idea. Other options are using a flask or a pumpable hand wash unit that you pre-fill. It’s worth checking with your EHO which they would prefer or whether they are OK with the cheaper option.

      A tea urn is great for heating water of all kinds, and lets you sell lovely, lovely tea, plus your can easily get an LPG one. We wash up at festivals in flexi tub filled from the tea urn. They also double as a place to store washing up before you do a wash. Dead useful.

      I hope that helps. Good luck with everything!

  • Kirsty

    Hot water urns… I am trying to find the best one and its like trying to find a needle in a haystack! Im looking at a LPG one (I think) im wanting to be able to keep serving hot drinks all day but what do you usually do when you have used all the water and you have to refill and wait for it to boil again? Do you have two urns? Im looking at a manual fill urn.Thanks

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Kirsty,

      So water boilers. I would definitely recommend sticking with LPG if you can. They are more expensive than the electric ones but much more efficient and quicker to heat up

      We use a single manual-fill 20L urn. This takes about 50-60mins to heat up (if you are doing a full urn) we then try to keep it very near to boiling point all day. We do this by adding small amounts of water as we can/need to and keeping the heat low. This works for us as hot drinks are not our main source of income. If you are the same then this is an easy cheap way of doing it. Eventually you will get caught out (we have many times) when you think you have loads of water left in the boiler but in fact it is almost all gone! However, if you are doing hot-drinks as a main income then 2 urns is probably a good idea then you can always have lots of hot water available.

      Auto fill urns are great, but they are expensive and complicated, so that means they can go wrong and they will just when you need them. Manual fill urns are very simple and so can be easily fixed when you are in dire need. The advantage is, that you will always have, all the hot water you could need!

      I hope this helps

      Barny

  • Mike

    Hello again, one further question: my wife and I are ramping up and will soon be applying to events. We are considering moving out of London to the Chilterns or beyond in order to have a larger prep-kitchen and a parking space for ease of loading and storage. However, we’ve noticed that the bulk of events are in and around London and we are a bit uneasy about living outside of that market. In your experience, do you think it would be a mistake to live more than an hour drive from London when just starting up?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Glad to hear it’s coming along well!
      You will have found a lot of events around London because that’s where you are. We are based in Leamington Spa and never leave a 50 mile radius of the town. Admittedly that puts Birmingham within striking distance, but it doesn’t get any where near London. We are still fully booked. If you were wanting to trade on Camden or Borough Markets then yes, it’s a mistake to live outside London. But not to worry; you, like everyone else, will probably never be offered a pitch there.

      So your alternative is market hopping locally (the Chilterns will have enough dinky farmers’ markets to give you one every day) or weekend trading at large scale annual events. Considering the amount of money washing around that part of the country I think you will have no problems finding events, if you are willing to put in the leg work. Although I should put a disclaimer on that. Regardless of location, it will take you a few years to build up a solid set of events, filter out the dross, and learn to spot a bad one.
      I hope it works out for you either way.
      Flic

      • Mike

        Thank you Flic!

  • David Pearce

    Hello, loads of great information!! I’m planning on venturing into doing my first overnight festival this year but I have a question reference electrical hook ups that are supplied. I operate my business from a gazebo so I’ll need to have a refrigerator, lighting and a motorised appliance. Do event organisers have any issues with purpose made exstension leads to operate all 3 items? Thank you for any help you can give

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi David!
      Extension leads will need a PAT Certificate, as will your electrical appliances. Most PAT Electricians will test a number of items for a fixed fee at your address, so make sure you include your extension leads in that equipment.

      Basically, make a list and gather everything before they arrive, rather than remembering you left the big griddle in storage half an hour before they arrive and have to juggle the car seat over so you can collect it and only get back a minute before they pull up. Cause that happens to the best of us.

  • Mark

    Hi,

    I haven’t read your book, I have ordered today and reading this site so far has had a great and immediate impact. I am in the process of starting a catering van business, it came about by chance and not by choice, but a very welcomed one but I am totally new to this, so I am really a blank page at the moment. I will do my food and hygiene and get everything registered and ready trade by the end of this month. As much as I need the money I am prepared to build slow, dont run before walk and slowly but surely build my confidence and be better prepared for next year and take step 2 with a bit more knowledge. I think I am setting up a 5 year plan and build steady, exciting times. Because funds are limited so my planning is going to be done on a very tight budget.

    My cooking is good enough and I will be doing Vegetarian and Vegan food, with a healthy look about it. The identity and concept is simple and easy healthy food snacks and meals. I will be starting in the West Midlands area or thereabouts.

    I haven’t read your book yet and nothing has said anything about Vegan and Vegetarian markets that I have read so far on this page. Thats the only food I know, as I say my cooking is good, it will be health based, but tasty and snacky, maybe some events smaller ones more special I can do more simple meals with more variety but not over the top, I am well traveled so plenty of taste will be offered, I will always offer great food. Is this a niche market, seems to be catching on a bit. I have no field experience in this but I have a van in very good condition that was given to me for a year to see if I can do something with it ( long story), but a wonderful opportunity has landed on my lap.

    As much as I like extra money like everyone else, its the lifestyle too, being out and about, hard work is not a problem. If I was more around London then I think any type of tasty foods even if its slightly different or new and unique it can be a hit, but West Midlands, any thoughts or tips and advice. Thanks 🙂

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Mark!

      I’m not quite sure what your question is, although it sounds like you have some fun plans! If you want to know something specific then I’ll be happy to help.

      Flic

      • Mark

        Hi Flic

        To trim it down a bit, my question would be how is the market for vegetarian and Vegan foods 🙂

  • Quidam

    Hi,
    Thank you very much for providing so much of useful information! We want to set up a gastronomic business but we’re still considering between a fixed A3/5 premises and a streed food van. Could you please clarify this one issue that might significantly change our plans: we thought a street food van would be easier than renting an A3/5 premise but we found that some food markets require us to have a separate unit/location to prepare and store food. Is it not possible to do that in the van? And by a separate unit, can we use our own kitchen? Does it have to be large one? Because if not we thought maybe it would be more convenient to rent an A3/5 premise and just have 1 location rented. We hoped a van would be cheaper but there seems to be stricter legal paperwork than with an A3/5 premise or we are wrong? Our flat contract has 1 restriction that we cannot use it for business purposes, if we use a kitchen to prepare and store food for a food van, would that be breaking that rule? Thank you very much for your help!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Heyo!

      You’ve packed the questions in that’s for sure. Lemme unpick this.

      Is it not possible to do that in the van?

      It will depend on your van whether you can prepare food in it. If it’s been signed off by environmental health for food prep and storage then you can happily do both there. However that’s not to say a market can’t require you to do both elsewhere: their market; their rules.

      And by a separate unit, can we use our own kitchen?

      You can use your own kitchen, again once the environmental health have signed it off.

      Does it have to be large one?

      As long as your kitchen is clean (and you have the rotas to show it will stay that way) they really don’t care how big it is. You will, but they won’t. Bigger kitchens are magnificent, but there is always a payoff: They take more cleaning.

      We hoped a van would be cheaper but there seems to be stricter legal paperwork than with an A3/5 premise or we are wrong?

      A street food van is almost certainly going to end up cheaper (and more flexible) than a building. The paperwork required is essentially the same for both. It’s the same process to get either one signed off for use as a food business.

      Our flat contract has 1 restriction that we cannot use it for business purposes, if we use a kitchen to prepare and store food for a food van, would that be breaking that rule?

      I’m not a property lawyer. It sounds very much like you want me to say it will be fine, and you can go ahead with it it, but if you substitute “food van” for “business” then I think you’ve answered your own question. Maybe it’s time to move? Or work out if you have been good enough tenants to get this one past your landlord?

      Good luck with it!

  • Katie Jones

    Hello and thank you for this wonderful resource! I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind 🙂
    I have ordered your book… looking forward to it arriving and maybe the answers I’m looking for are in there.

    Q1: Is there a list somewhere of all the events for us look at and to apply to those that we wish to attend?

    Q2: I’m trying to write a business plan and I’m really stuck on the financial projections! Help would be appreciated! I have no idea what to do here.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Katie!

      Very kind of you to say so! I hope you like the book.
      Q1: Events come and go – it would be impossible to maintain a database of all of them. The closest you can get is the Events guide. To be honest nothing compares to go old fashioned research you do yourself. The internet is your friend, but it does take time to build up your customised list of events.
      Q2: Without knowing what events you are planning to visit, what food you sell and a dozen other variables I can’t help you with anything specific. Email us if you would like to have a consultation about it or see the book for detailed advice.

  • Mozal Michal

    Just ordered your book:) also I have question,I purchased food kiosk at reasonable price from those guys http://www.mobileunit.eu but I still need some catering equipment though, can you recommend any catering equipment suppliers please?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Once you know what you’re buying I’d recommend going to the folks who sell it cheapest. If you have a tiddly budget then go for factory seconds or used equipment off ebay, otherwise put the product into google and find out who will do you the best price for it.

  • Jon Haslam

    Hi again..We started our own Toastie business at a Christmas market and have just completed our 2nd which was a great success. We’ve been a year in the making and just wanted to say thank you for your advice and the book which I highly recommend to anyone starting out.
    We’ve actually been asked to cater for a private function (wedding party) with a rough estimate of around 50 – 75 toasties..Working private events was a longer term goal for us but it looks like it’s happening NOW! Anyway, do you have any advice in relation to this please? Should I be looking for a fee up front? and how much to charge etc?

    CHEERS!

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Jon,
      Thanks very much for saying so and sorry for the late answer! Here is our potted guide to weddings : http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/2015/04/25/wedding-street-food/

      We charge the same amount we charge normally, but how much you charge depends on how much extra/less effort is involved in relation to your normal events (and how much you can get away with).

      Congratulations! I hope this is the first of many!

      • Jon Haslam

        You’re a star thank you 👍🧀👏

  • Marek Hudacek

    Hello,

    Me and my boyfriend would love to start some mobile coffee business and we need to restore old caravan/ trailer (something like you have).. We plan to buy some old caravan, and we would like to ask you, if you could help us, if you don’t mind, what company restored your caravan. We need someone who will do everything include electricity, water, flooring, gas, and also cutting new window and painting, inside and outside as well.
    Thank you so much for your time!
    Have a greater day!:)

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Marek!
      We did the entire conversion in house, apart from the metal fabrication, which we designed, but had constructed locally. So it can be done! We are currently working on conversion number two. Unfortunately this means we can’t help you with regards to a company, but I can point you towards the blog posts that cover it. You will find them (and any future entries) here.

  • Sofia Daniela Encea

    Hello
    I want to star a food street trade with a catering van,can I ask you something?
    I buy the van after that I take all the license ?
    I take the license and then I buy the van ?
    I have food hygiene certificate.
    Thank you and so sorry about my pour English.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Sofia!
      It depends which license you are talking about. To register as a food business, all you need is a company. To get a food hygiene rating you need to be able to show the environmental health officer where and how you trade, so if you will be using a van, you will need the van there. However you do not have to trade in the van, see further up this post for a breakdown of the options.
      Good luck!

      • Sofia Daniela Encea

        Hi thank you for your answer, I talking about food hygiene level 2 because I was working in kitchen. And I just order your book ,I hope to get that Monday.I will find all the answer’s. Thank you

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          Ah! Not a license, that’s a certification – but that clears things up. You will need your food hygiene certificate in order to get your food hygiene rating from the council. So you need to take it before your first inspection by the environmental health officers.

  • Caroline Sutton

    I know I am going to come across as a bit thick, but how do you plug in electrical appliances when you’re using a gazebo to prepare/sell food? I mean there aren’t any plug sockets in most fields. Do you have to buy a generator? If so, what size/type of generator will power an urn, a microwave, a toaster and a fridge all at the same time?

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Caroline
      Your are correct, only a very small number of fields come fully connected as standard. There are notable exception though: Festivals will almost universally provide you with power. It will cost you an arm and a leg, and they won’t let you bring your own generator even if you want to. Then again, mobile power is pretty pricey, that’s just the way of things.

      I can warmly recommend this post for details on the gas vs electric debate, because your best bet is probably to at least consider running a few things on gas. Tea urns and (commercial) toasters are disgracefully needy. For specifics either look up the wattage in the information that comes with each item or get an ammeter to measure once you’ve bought it, because they’re all different and my guess would probably be wildly inaccurate!

      Best of luck!

      • Caroline Sutton

        Thank you for replying, as I may have been a bit abrupt with my query! I asked this as I was thinking of making vegetarian food beforehand, taking it along then heating it up in a microwave. I thought this would be the quickest way to serve customers, I just couldn’t think how I’d power up a microwave in a rural setting. I would be interested to hear how other people have dealt with this issue! Do all gazebo owners have generators? If what I am thinking of doing isn’t very practical I suppose it might be a lot quicker & easier (if much less original) just to sell cakes.
        PS thanks also for the link to the gas/electric debate. x

        • Ross Kitching

          I’ve heard of people running a microwave from solar panels… Litle expensive but if you can leave outside to charge a battery (connected to the solar) they can power one for a while with just one device. plus good for the environment.
          How long it would last would obviously depend on the amount of solar panles/batteries, watage of the microwave and how long youre using it for…. At like 800w I would bet on it running out ec=ven with a £200 battery so might be nest getting a generator. Theres lots of posts online about the ups and downs… Can get pretty complex very fast though with amps required etc.

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          Heating each potion individually in a microwave could be very time-consuming (imagine one person ordering 4 portions that have to go in one at a time). If it’s something you can cook on site and hot-hold that would probably be an easier (tastier?) route, but it very much depends on the product.
          Sorry I missed your response by the way!

  • Ross Kitching

    Hi guys, just ordered your book, looking forward to reading.

    Before I delve right into this life i’m thinking you can help me decide if my idea will even work… I’m not interested in selling run-of-the-mill frozen burgers, but well aware that’s what (crazy) people buy.
    I have a passion and talent for flavours so I wish to sell hand pressed gourmet burgers, which will roughly cost (going by supermarket prices, buying in bulk) around £1.10 per unit for the ingredients alone, and will take around 1 minute each to prep.

    Maybe a big/complicated one, but my question is roughly how much of a mark up should I be aiming for to make a profit (ball park figure, not looking to get rich, but make £18k net minimum per year)?
    I’m thinking around a 300% markup (£4.40 selling price) as I’m 100% SURE people would be happy to pay that for them, BUT I know these cheapy frozen ones (although selling for a similar price in take-aways) cost literally nothing compared to a £1… Hence the doubt I’ll make any money. I’m hoping higher profit margins (eg fries / tea) may off balance this margin in my favour, but not naive enough to think relying on side orders is wise.

    Target audience will be general city folk (Cardiff). I’m hoping to get quite a central location as I assume is needed for quirky/gourmet stalls?

    I understand me finding a descent supplier of meat and veg will be essential, but I think to start out I might be more comfortable knowing as a fallback I always trade at profit even if something happens to my suppliers, or move shop.
    Or do you think this is irrelevant and finding a good supplier is key to profit? I can buy fresh mince for £3.20per k/g.

    I also understand that lower profit means I’ll have to sell more units to make the same profit.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey Ross!
      I wouldn’t start comparing your burger to a manky frozen one. You are looking at a totally different audience who are willing to pay more for quality. You will always meet people who think that burgers should be £1.50 and your prices are outrageous. That’s cool: they would never have bought off you anyway, bless their tight little socks.
      Your pricing will be a matter of trial and error. Do the maths: at what price point does this become a viable business? Now you can either sell them at that price point, or you can risk charging more. There is no shame in making a little extra profit. I covered it way back here originally, but I’ll try and get a more factual one out soon.

      Your other points: Sides – don’t rely on them for profit. If your core product isn’t making money, fix that.

      Cardiff: Go down there and see what you can see. Work out who you will be near and what you will be up against. Static trading isn’t for me, because it’s long hours for comparatively meagre rewards, but if you are better than the rest you will stand out and hopefully win big.

      Supplier/profit: Not quite sure what your question is. Yes a good supplier is key, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a profit.

      As it happens the costing example I use in the book is based on burgers, so have a look at that when it arrives and I’ll try and remember to ping this post when I get a relevant blog out.

      Cheers!
      Flic

      • Ross Kitching

        Hi Flic, thanks for replying so fast!

        I’m having difficulty doing the maths atm as still very early days… Guessing I’m only really going to be selling breakfast for an hour in the morning and one hour for lunch though so just guessing I can sell maybe 20 or so per hour so 60-70max per day… I really have no idea. Will come down to where I get a pitch. If in middle of town, walking trade could easily triple that…

        I have a lot to learn about planning: I started writing a business plan which has just turned into a notepad with MILIONS of ideas, prices, themes, names, recipes and just notes all over the place, so many ideas flying around, exiting times! I’m hoping your book will help with a thiking structur/order.
        I’m guessing a few people are like like when they start out… eg “should I do chippy chips or fries, use round paper cups for chips or stamp my logo onto square ones.. Sauteed potatoes with garlic and rosemary or just oil… Have these listed as ‘potato menu'” etc etc 😀

        I’m hoping it’s a close-knit and friendly community the mobile catering crowd, I have heard a few bad things about competition and people being territorial but people like yourself and others I’ve spoken to seem to be displaying the opposite.
        Can’t wait to read the book. THANK YOU SO MUCH

        • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

          You’re very welcome and you’re right; the only way to know how many you will sell in that place is to go to that place and sell them.

          On the subject of chips as a burger guy: Don’t do chips.

          Unless there is no other way to get a competitive edge out there, you are setting yourself up for a load of extra effort. You already have the most popular product in street food, so if you can get a pitch, your burgers should sell themselves (if they don’t, get a new pitch). Anyway, chips: Especially in a gazebo that’s a lot of hot fat to cart around and a lot of chips to make, which is surprisingly time-consuming and great for sharing. So that family that would otherwise have bought 4 burgers is now just going to get two portions of chips to share.

          I’ve not sold chips: your experiences may differ, but I would strongly recommend starting on just this frikkin amazing burger that will blow your tiny little mind and then add chips if you feel it’s worth the effort. Yes, you will occasionally get asked for them (we all do) but then again if you’re in a giant green van covered in the word toasties you will get asked if you sell ice cream (hot dogs, burgers honestly I could go on all day), so go figure.

  • FredMcV

    Hi. Really enjoying reading this blog, and have ordered the book, which I can’t wait to dive into. Thanks so much for putting all this effort in.

    Question: I want to start a mobile fried chicken business but want to test the market before I invest in an expensive set up. I am aware of you cautioning folk to avoid using deep-fat fryers out of a gazebo because of the long get-in and strike times. Would you advise going straight for a van, getting a gazebo and putting up with the initial inconvenience, or finding a different way to cook chicken other than deep frying?

    Thanks again.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Fred,
      Sorry for the delay getting back to you! Busy times have apparently started early this year.

      I would always advise giving the gazebo a try unless you are already coming from a street food background. That way you can work out if this is even the career for you, whether you like the lifestyle and if there is money to be made in your area.

      That said, you might want to consider a cheap-white-box trailer, with a view to upgrading to something prettier over time. One work of warning: you will need stupidly good extraction. Don’t just rely on opening the hatch and wafting airborne oil out. That stuff is nasteh. I wouldn’t compromise on your methods: shallow frying might be an option if you want to go very low budget, but I am not convinced it will be an effective comparison.

      Good luck!

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  • Oscar

    Hello. Thank you for useful information. I have already ordered your book (can’t wait to read it) . I am planning to start street food business and I have got enough experience to deal with customers, but I have plenty questions :

    Is it possible to do it for part time business at the beginning?
    Do I need still to register my company as a part business?
    As a new trader can I start with the van?
    Do I need to be a chef to start this business?

    As new trader does it matter what kind I festivals or event I will start working?

    Sorry for that many questions.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey Oscar!

      Question time!

      Is it possible to do it for part time business at the beginning?

      Yes. Works neatly around a 9-5. We did it for 18 months.

      Do I need still to register my company as a part business?

      Yes, you are still a business not matter how little you trade. You sell to the public for profit? That makes you a business.

      As a new trader can I start with the van?

      Yes. I’d recommend this one.

      Do I need to be a chef to start this business?

      No, but it sure helps.

      As new trader does it matter what kind I festivals or event I will start working?

      Not quite sure I understand your question. Good events are ones where you make money. it really doesn’t matter if they are festivals, street food events or WI meetings.

      Good luck!

  • Monta

    Hello.I have found this blog and looks like will be buying book too. Does this book will tell me where and how to start up,like from A to Z, what to do first ,second,third,what to start doing before buying unit,etc?Does it also have a list of equipment required for burger /food van…like from cooking,storing food and selling it…mean like where do I put my food in…plastic plates,cups or etc….I hope you understand what I mean..thank you

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hey Monta,
      You are probably asking the wrong person. I wrote the book, clearly I’m going to think it’s got everything you need. It does have a comprehensive guide to getting started. That said it doesn’t cover what to serve you food in, that really is a personal choice based on your brand and service style.

      Have a read of the reviews on Amazon. They all seem to think it was worth the money, which is probably the most impartial result you will get.

      Good luck!

  • MrCeviche London

    Hello, many thanks for so much valuable information, I can not wait to read your book, I’m sure it will be of great help in this new project that I’m starting, as you’ll understand there are millions of doubts before you start this great adventure but I guess not I can do all of them, but what I would like is that you help me or advise on the following:
    1.- Where could I buy bamboo containers or other recyclable material that is compatible with liquids?
    2.- Could you recommend any catering equipment supplier?
    I hope you can help me.
    Thank you
    Cheers

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Heyo! Don’t worry about the doubts, that’s normal. The book should hopefully sort out most of them.

      1. We have never used bamboo, so I can’t recommend a particular supplier, but google is your friend. There are hundreds of packaging suppliers out there, and many will send you samples of products – we find this s a good way to gauge a supplier: if they can’t manage samples, they’re not all that fussed about your business.
      2. We get asked this occasionally and I consistently say “the one that sells the thing you want cheapest”. But knowing what you want is hard. So start on ebay. Get your equipment second hand and then improve on it from there. If you do want to buy new, Nisbets will beat any published price by 5%, so get the product code, google the cheapest option, and then go to Nisbets and get an extra 5% off. The best brand we have found in therms of value for money is probably Parry, but that’s a personal preference. MAybe we need some reviews on here. I’ll look into it.

  • Mark

    Hi,

    My van is almost ready, am I to late to apply for festivals, someone told me that I should have booked all the events in the Winter and now it will be hard to apply and get into events now its close to the summer. Is this true, will I have to wait until next year.

    Cheers

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Mark!
      Yes and no. Yes, you are too late to apply to Glastonbury, V Festival, Reading and what not. You are also too late for the smaller events like folk festivals, town celebrations and the like. But you are not too late for the last minute stuff. If you want to have a go, you need to join add to event or one of the many similar sites and start sending quotes out. If you’re not picky, and if you quote low, you will get work.

      I can’t guarantee the quality of that work, but if you need to make it happen, only the dead of winter can stop you. Good luck!

      • Mark

        Thank you so much. I am having a nightmare trying to find someone to get gas certification certificate. I called NCASS and they wont tell me unless I join them first. I am in the Birmingham Area, any ideas for contacts.

        Cheers

        • jabberwockyfood

          Hi Mark,

          That is what NCASS do. They are there for their members not for everyone.

          I can’t recommend anyone in Brum but I can recommend DGM in Coventry as quick, cheap and reliable (they do all our gas work and supply our calor gas). Give them a ring on 02476 226132 and talk to Martin or Paul

          Good luck

  • Daniwl

    Hi,

    Thanks for this great site. I’m buying your book on pay day. Just one question, what would you say the start up costs would be for someone with no experience? I’m looking to set up a chickpea inspired Street food business at festivals etc. No idea on van or gazebo yet. What’s the minimum you would say i would need to start out?

    It will only be weekends until i know it’s a viable business so won’t be leaving the day job.

    Thanks

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Dan!
      It’s a good question, but the answer is very much “how much do you want to spend?” – it can be done for next to nothing, but your kit will be rubbish, your prep slow and your unit boring. Or you can spend £50,000 on a bespoke h-van conversion and then wonder idly to yourself how you will ever make the money back.

      Work out how much you have, then look at getting the best possible options within your means. There is loads more about this in the book, including a full low-end costing, to give you a better idea.

      Good luck!
      Flic

      • Daniel

        Thanks. I’ll get the book on pay day 🙂

  • emily whitfield

    Hi im planning on starting up my own street food van and this might sound like a daft question but for me to run a card machine and fridge, where would i get my electricity from ?without hooking it up to the van and leaving the engine running ?
    Thanks, emily

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Emily! No such thing as a stupid question!
      (Totally not true, “so, have you already run out of [menu item that has just been removed from menu]?” is right up there)
      Two options:
      1. You get power from the organiser. They have either booked a genny or you are close enough to a building/outlet that you can plug in. If it’s available, this is almost always the easiest option.
      2. You buy or hire a generator and carry that with you. With only a card reader, a fridge, a hand wash sink and lights (you will need lights in a van, and a hand wash sink it just easier if its electric) a teeny tiny 1kw suitcase generator will be enough.

      Good luck!
      Flic

  • OwenWard

    Hello!
    The book is top of the list for useful birthday presents rather than socks so I’m keeping my fingers crossed in 2 weeks time. I was wondering what information you could give on getting part time employees starting out. It’s difficult sat behind my computer to know the help I will need and then on top of that where to advertise it. Any advice?
    Thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Owen,

      Initially, my best advice is don’t use staff. For the first few events get friends and family involved and figure out how to do things, make all the really big mistakes and save a bit of money. Staff are incredibly expensive (obviously) and need all sorts of things like breaks, sleep, food and money. If you can manage it without, start like that, because you don’t need any of those things, somehow (I think it’s called the magic of self-employment).

      Once you have the base game figured out, then you can add staff and payroll. We have had success finding people on gumtree, word of mouth and the job centre website. Just be clear that this is casual, effectively weekend work rather than a part time job (unless you are actually offering that many hours).

      Good luck!

      • OwenWard

        Thank you so much for your quick reply and well wishes.

  • Sarina

    Hi!
    I need some advice. Cooking is my passion and I always have wanted to sell my food but I never got the chance and I also don’t know where to start. I was thinking about foodtruck/ markets/ restaurant but I completely don’t know what is best for me to start. I want to keep my costs low. I was thinking of selling Indian food(e.g curry,naans. Samosa, but also pizza which is not Indian). I am not sure about what kind of stoves are the best if I want to start market of foodtruck. Please could you guve me some advice where I can start the best location wise etc. I want to start this business in Netherlands.
    Many Thanks

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi,

      All I can say is that Street food is great. If you are not sure the best place to start is with our book which you can buy on amazon http://amzn.to/1SbuAnP it goes through all the basics including wheather this is for you.

      Good luck with your venture

      Barny

  • Debbie Hill

    Hi there

    My boyfriend and I wondered if you think it’s best to start as a sole trader for a few months or go straight in as a Ltd Company? Any ideas much appreciated. Debbie

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Debbie! I’m sorry we missed this – the email notification got buried.

      Yes yes yes. By all means start out as a sole trader. Make sure you know what the difference is and that you are comfortable with it, but it’s much less paperwork and much easier to manage. Become limited if you have any big assets (you’re homeowners basically) or if you want to employ more than one member of staff.

      Good luck!

  • Kat

    Hi,

    I’ve just been enjoying your blog – thanks so much for all the useful info! I am looking to start up a mobile food business (a trailer) next year with my partner, a private cook, selling hot food using an unusual meat. To help with working out costings and dishes, we would love to trial some food this summer at a small festival (e.g. a day festival) or one-off event, but I just wondered what needed to be done, legally speaking, before we could trade at one of these. Is it possible to operate as a trader as a one-off and not have to go through setting yourself up as a company, for instance? / Can you get temporary public liability insurance, etc.? Would be so grateful for an answer as I can’t seem to find one online. I suspect you do need to set yourself up properly first, but I don’t know if this is what people do when they sell, for instance, their home cooking at a local fair. Any info would be soo appreciated!

    Thank you,

    Kat

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Kat!

      The sad answer is, unfortunately, that you need to be legal before you can trade anywhere if you are selling to the public. A case could possibly be made if you were selling to family and friends (like at a relative’s wedding) but basically, you need to get everything done and be legal. This goes both ways: you will then have temperature and cleaning records which will cover your butt if someone blames you for some food poisoning, and your insurance will pay out if a customer gets hurt by something related to you.

      As public liability relies on you being a set up and running catering business I am fairly sure you would not be able to get it as a one off, and the environmental health will not give you their blessing if you don’t have the docs to go with it.

      It is a fair bit of paperwork, but once it’s done it’s done, so take a few weekends to get it sorted now and you might be able to pick up a few little gigs later in the year before festivalling 2018.

      Good luck!

  • Annie

    Hi

    I have recently purchased your book (waiting on it coming) after a good bit of research we have decided to set up a gazebo selling Indian street food.

    First of all I was wondering what kind of checks eho will do in our prep kitchen at home – our area seem particularly fussy is there anything to watch out for ?

    Second of all we are hoping to do a gazebo to start until we know how it will take off , must it be fire retardant as these are pricy and does it need protective flooring etc ?

    Lastly are coolboxes the most efficient way to transport food needing chilled eg raw chicken.

    Many thanks

    Annie.

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Annie!

      Having missed this for so long I guess the book is there by now, hopefully it’s useful! Question time.

      1st – Remember that your EHO is an overworked, underpaid human, just like the rest of us. We have a tendency to treat them like the enemy in catering, but they are trying to get you safe, and that means they have to be anal about cleaning, records and whether you have X bit of kit. There are several inspections before you get your rating, so make sure that your prep area is spotless, get as much of the paperwork ready and waiting as you can and offer them a cup of tea.

      If they point out something that is missing DON’T get defensive and try and cover it up. Acknowledge, apologize if necessary and then make a plan to set it right. Set it right that day, and email them an update (with evidence, if applicable) to say that you have sorted it out.

      2nd – Yes. Pay the extra now and avoid firey death later! High fives all round! Flooring is also advisable, but what is needed will often depend on who you are trading with. Some festivals are very picky others simply don’t care. This is a good question for your EHO, to see what they are looking for locally before you invest big. Once it’s been given EHO blessing most festivals will approve.

      3rd – Coldboxes are a brilliant way to transport food once it is very cold. The moment you open that cold box, you food will begin working towards room temperature. If your food goes above fridge temp then you are binning it at the end of the day if not before. However in a gazebo setup they are your best option, you just need to manage them carefully and make sure the food goes in as cold as it possibly can.

      I hope that helps!
      All the best

  • Gavin Morris

    Hi, We are new to this idea. I would really love to set up my own street food business but am afraid of giving up a regular income. I am currently a teacher and so I’m wondering is it possible to set up a street food business along side doing supply work or is it something I would need to go into full time?

    Thanks

    Gavin

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Gavin.

      Yes, street food works very well around a full time, 9-5 kind of job. Teaching especially, what with you being out of work at the same time as the busiest time of year. The best time to sell street food is at the weekend, so yes, go out there and make it happen!

  • Kat

    Hiya,

    Thanks so much for your reply to my previous post (about licensing for a one-off event) that I’ve just seen – really appreciate the advice. At the risk of taking up more of your time than you bargained or hoped for, I’d love to ask you about one other topic: ambulance conversions (or something similar, e.g. a fire truck conversion). Do you think we would be crazy to do one of these as our first step on the street-food ladder, considering the conversion would cost, I’m guessing, upwards of £10,000 and we don’t have tons of money? Or, in hindsight, would you say that the amount other vans break down, don’t let you roam too far and give you constant back pain make a big investment of a conversion worth it to start off with? Also, how long do you expect your ambulance conversion to take? And are they so big that they preclude you being able to sell from some pitches or events? Any advice (again) would be soo welcome and gratefully received. I ordered your book from Prime yesterday so it should be arriving today!

    Thanks again,

    Kat

    • jabberwockyfood

      Hi Kat,

      I am glad the advice was useful last time.

      As you are starting out I would not recommend that you start with a van conversion. It took me 3 months to get the ambulance ready to trade and that was a lot of work and I knew exactly what I wanted to acheive with the conversion. I love trading from a van and in fact owning cool vehicles is fun. However, when you first start out it’s best to begin in a gazebo to find out 2 things; firstly do you enjoy it? It would suck to spend £20k on a van only to find out you hate selling street food. Secondly, you can move stuff around in a gazebo. this means you can use it as a tester for how you want a van to work when you do get one. Have a play with set up so that you use the space (which is a lot smaller) in a van to its maximum potential. It is impossible to design a van before you start trading as you will have no idea what you will need it to do in the end.

      Good luck with street food and I hope you enjoy the book

      Barny

      • Kat

        Barny – fab advice, I really appreciate it so much. That makes a whole lot of sense.

        Your book’s arrived now and I’m just making my way through it, so I will try and keep any future questions to the really in-a-pickle times where I can’t work it out without some wise words of experience! I will also make a point of directing people to The Jabberwocky when you’re in town (I live in west London; I think you might be coming down south once you have the ambulance?).

        All v. best with the replacement for the Beast!

        Kat

  • Victoria Sharkey

    Hi

    Thanks for all the tips above… really useful.

    Thinking of setting up a vintage caravan serving prosecco & afternoon tea style stuff

    If the food is pre-prepared and we’re serving on the lawn in front of the caravan, so it’s essentially a pretty trailer, can we sleep in the van?

    Also we have the alcohol license sorted but would we all need food hygiene if it’s packaged food/snacks sold at organised events, not from a street.

    Thanks

    • http://www.thejabberwocky.co.uk/ Felicity von Wocky

      Hi Victoria,

      Disclaimer: I am not an environmental health officer. They would be the folks to get proper yes/no legalities from.

      If you are not using your caravan as a food prep area and are not opening/wrapping/cooking anything in there you are, essentially, just a shop. In that case I imagine you would be fine sleeping in the caravan, especially if you had a designated area for any foodstuffs which is in a separate cupboard or room (so it doesn’t look like you’re sleeping in cake).

      As soon as you are handling open food you need to get food hygiene, regardless of where you’re trading. Play it safe – only costs £15-30/person and takes a few hours.

      However, I’ve never run a shop or had to sleep in my unit, so it may be worth running this question past an EHO.