Al was a Senior Sous at renowned London caterers; ‘Party Ingredients’, and Hannah had just returned back to her job as a primary school teacher after maternity leave. Before setting the Cauldron up, they had a smidgen of experience in the industry; Al helped run a risotto stall at the Red Market in London!
“We had always toyed with the idea of setting something of our own up, but the investment needed, and risks involved with a bricks and mortar establishment were just too off-putting. Especially when we both had nice secure jobs, and a young family…..Whilst trawling through the internet, we noticed an ad for a quirky looking van. Instead of putting our meagre savings into a house, we took the plunge and decided that renting wasn’t so bad after all.
To start with, we played it safe at a small, regular weekend market, which allowed us to learn a lot about our systems and menus etc. At the start it was tricky to get into events as we were not really known. With a little perseverance; and venturing into the unknown (the second month of Trinity Kitchen) and a mention in the Independent newspaper and things started to get exciting. A year in and we are now in the position where we often have to turn down work because we are already booked. We are still very much learning about the different types of events; when and how to do what. We hope that next year will be more efficient, as we will have a much better idea about what works for us and what doesn’t.
Our van is a VW razorback. It was originally used as a motorbike recovery vehicle. Its party trick is its floor going up and down on hydraulics (so in its previous life bikes could get wheeled in and out). It currently means that we can stand pretty much at ground level, look our customers straight in the eye, whilst convincing them that the Pig In wrap really will make their day. We reckon our van and outdoor set up looks quite pretty, so we feel that it acts as an advert for our food. It attracts a lot of enquiries for weddings as it’s quite an eye-catching feature. Cons? Space is an issue. There’s not much storage, hence the need to set up our additional serving space which is adjoined to the van. It’s a bit of a faff to set up as it’s made from pallets which need screwing together each time…. But it’s definitely worth it- allowing customers to watch their food being prepared, to smell the meat getting crisped up really adds to the street food experience.
We make as much of our own produce as possible. The dressings, sauces, marinades go without saying. We know that provenance, traceability and all of those other buzz words need to be high on the agenda; but when we first started, we were unsure about the actual food type that we were doing. It sounds odd, but we knew we wanted to do wholesome, fresh rustic cooking, but when people asked what type of food we did it was hard to put our finger on exactly what it was without reeling off the different menu items. Through trial and error, as well as cost efficiency, we have landed on ‘modern street food using traditional farmhouse lore’. In summary, we buy whole, free range pigs on a weekly basis. We butcher them ourselves, and use the different parts in our different dishes. We smoke, salt, brine and cure to use the whole animal. Our nose to tail dishes are then rotated, according to the type of event we do.
We do spend a ridiculous amount of time on all of the teeny details of our business; because we love doing it. For example our menu boards are made out of upcycled pallets, we hand make all of the decorations for the van- it’s great that we can justify spending time on hobbies because they come under the umbrella of work. I think the overall impact of our set up and food style makes us stand out.
We were totally over the moon to have won the Wales and West regional heats of the British Street Food Awards a couple of weeks ago. Not only does it mean we’re off to the big finals in September, but it means we now know that we are doing something right.
We try to be as green as is practically possible. Our disposables are all biodegradable. As much of our produce as possible is sourced locally, so does that reduce our carbon footprint??! Our van has solar panels on the roof which charges the lights in the van- and on a good day the fridge too.
Our street food journey has been every bit as uncertain, stressful, exciting and rewarding as you could imagine. One of the most exciting things is that there are still so many different directions we could go in; we are far from settling on a straightforward plan”………………
Truly inspiring stuff from @tcauldron, testament that dedication and attention to finer detail in this wonderful business, no doubt plays a big part in the key to success.
All of the team here at Streetzine wish you every success in the final 🙂