Despite our uncertain weather, street food has become increasingly popular in the UK, and the variety of cuisines available from individual traders is amazing. If you are thinking of joining this idiosyncratic crowd and creating specialist gourmet food for your customers on the street, here is a brief guide to starting out.

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Legal Matters

Whether you decide to be a sole trader or to set up a limited company you will need to register with your local authority as a food business. They will inspect your operation and, in conjunction with the Foods Standards Agency, give you a Food Hygiene rating. You can find further information about the requirements on their website.

Other paperwork you will need includes public liability insurance, and the relevant gas or electricity safety certificates. Depending on where you intend to trade there may be other documents such as risk assessments that you need to produce – the manager of the market, festival or other venue will tell you their requirements.

What Food to Serve

You may already know what you want to cook, but bear in mind that whatever you choose has to be popular enough and quick enough to produce to make you money. Have a look at the competition, watch which stalls have the longest queues, and decide where your product will fit in. Then you have to make sure you make it better than the competition. The specific catering supplies that you need will depend on the specific foods you are supplying, but refrigerated storage is a must for everyone.

Consider your Venue

It is up to you to decide where you want to trade. Music Festivals are often a good bet, as tickets are sold prior to the event and they are usually busy whatever the weather. Markets can be a good regular source of income although customers at town markets are often more on the lookout for a bargain than a gourmet experience. Speciality farmers’ markets will attract more foodies, but they are usually held for just a weekend and you can expect takings to be lower than those you would get at a small music festival. Street food collectives are found in most major cities and attract people looking for unusual dishes. According to the Guardian many Street Food providers are moving indoors to venues such as Market House in Altrincham or Trinity Kitchen in Leeds.

Your Rig

If you need to set up your operation on a shoestring, a gazebo is probably the cheapest option. For speed and ease of setting up, a food van is the set up of choice, although they can break down or go wrong in other ways. Alternatively you could consider a trailer which would be more versatile and can be customised by installing the appropriate equipment from combination ovens sold by suppliers such as to commercial microwaves. Whatever you choose, it is important to make it stand out by a distinctive and easily recognisable paint job or banners to attract customers to your outlet.

Whatever you are supplying, you can improve sales by employing social media to promote your street food. Facebook and Twitter are the new “word of mouth” by which businesses have grown in the past.

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