The chances are that most of us will have eaten food from a street food vendor at some point in the last 12 months. From small summertime farmer’s markets, to giant festivals, to the numerous Christmas markets found in towns and cities throughout December, street food is now a part of everyday life. And you name it – you can find a street food stall that sells it. As our travel horizons broaden so do our food tastes. From firm favourites such as burgers and pizzas to new flavours from places such as Cuba, Uganda and the Philippines, street food is at the forefront of culinary innovation, with a reputation for authenticity and quality thanks to its fresh, high quality ingredients and enticing flavours.
This reputation, and the continued success of street food events, has led to many councils and developers using the street food scene to breathe new life into neglected urban areas and as a result established and regular collectives can now be found across the UK through the likes of Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham, Borough Market in London and Mackie Mayor in Manchester.
Digbeth Dining Club founder, Jack Brabant said: “The UK is a lot more switched on to food than it ever has been, and you can see that in how popular street food is. People want to know where food comes from, who cooks it, the quality of the produce, and I don’t think you get that experience per se in many restaurants. I think it’s also a reaction to a more casual dining desire. It’s no coincidence that Nando’s is a favourite for first dates, as it’s less informal than other restaurants. In essence, that is what street food is, informal, fast dining. The crowds we get are so diverse; it’s a badge of pride for us running an event that appeals to any demographic.”
The transient nature of street food and the excitement of discovering new flavours and combinations from around the world is keeping people coming back for more, and the growth in this industry shows no signs of slowing. With reasonable start-up costs, low overheads and few barriers to entry, becoming a street food vendor offers a realistic chance for those with a passion for cooking and great quality food to start a business and many street food vendors who started out in gazebos, carts, vans and stalls have gone on to become successful restaurant owners.
The vital role of LPG
The pop-up nature of street food means that vendors need to be mobile and flexible, transporting large quantities of ingredients and equipment from location to location and setting up in venues such as high streets, warehouses, fields and car parks on a regular basis. It’s also very important to find a way to stand out in the crowd amongst the many competitors vying for attention, which makes the facilities and equipment chosen by a vendor a very important decision.
One of the most important considerations has to be the ability to refrigerate, prepare and cook your dishes – and that’s where LPG comes in. LPG can be easily transported, stored and used virtually anywhere. It’s available in portable cylinders, does not require a fixed gas connection and does not deteriorate over time. These are all reasons why it’s often the first choice fuel for street food vendors, and there are many more:
- With crowds of visitors to serve, speed and reliability are essential, and LPG ignites quickly to give an instant flame and a steady, consistent source of heat that can be easily controlled and turned up or down on demand, to ensure exactly the right temperature. This makes it efficient to use and ensures food isn’t spoiled or wasted in quieter periods.
- Street food outlets can be found anywhere – from city centres, to small town side streets, and even village fields. As LPG can be bought in cylinders which are easy to transport and connect, it is available wherever it is needed.
- Keeping the air clean is an important consideration for most locations, and the beauty of LPG is that it is the lowest carbon and cleanest conventional off-grid fuel – burning cleanly without producing soot, smoke or smell. LPG emissions are significantly less than a diesel generator, and noise levels are negligible too.,
- Cooking is not the only fuel requirement – vendors may also need heating, power generation and refrigeration, all of which LPG can provide, making it a great all round choice.
By George Webb, chief executive of trade association for the UK’s liquid petroleum gas industry, UKLPG