Peterborough-entrepreneur Chris Jones has been denied a regular city-centre location for his artisan food truck venture despite there already being other mobile food traders that have traded in the area for years.
Spurred on by the growing street food scene in other UK cities – and inspired by the well-established food trucks of the USA – Chris has seen a gap in Peterborough’s foodie offering and wants to bring an artisan barbecue experience to our city.
However, unfortunately for Chris he has come up against Peterborough City Council which seem pretty clueless when it comes to supporting Chris in his street food dreams. Exasperated by the response he got from the council’s City Centre Manager Justin Beaumont, Chris took to Twitter and his own website to vent his frustrations:
The City Centre Manager hadn?t heard of street food and said ?is it just sausages and burgers??
Mr Beaumont informed me that there wasn?t any room for any more traders in the city centre as we have 2 Hot Dog Vans- but oh HANG ON- as one pitch is only used part time I could perhaps have his ?off days ?.
Strange though that a Continental Market with traders from abroad can be found accommodation at will!? But not a local chap with a great product that the public want.
The UK’s street food scene is certainly thriving at the moment, being popularised by TV cookery shows and chefs such as Jamie Oliver with Fifteen Street, Lorraine Pascale on Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food and Sunday Brunch featuring Simon Rimmer. Even Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces series has featured a quirky Citroen van conversion by La Petite Bretonne from which they create a range of crepes.
London is currently leading the way with street food enterprises such as Kerb and Eat St but the trend isn’t confined to the capital – towns like Bristol, Worcester, Stafford, Leamington Spa, Milton Keynes and Macclesfield to name but a few – are all developing a ‘street food scene’. More locally we have both Stamford and Oundle with their annual food festivals yet Peterborough with it’s rich blend of multicultural diversity is devoid of a food festival.
Yes we have ‘Continental Markets’ that land periodically (and are given prime space in the heart of the City Centre) and an annual Italian Festival where all the food vendors seem to offer is yet another place to buy a pizza, but no concerted effort at hosting a true food festival.
Judging by some of the responses to Chris’s Deli-cue tweets there is clearly a demand in Peterborough for a better quality fast food experience.
The freshly prepared food available from street vendors goes far beyond the greasy burger van / roadside cafes that Peterborough is accustomed to, with niche artisan offerings ranging from the slow-cooked barbecued meats Chris is a fan of to French crepes, Spanish churros, Mexican burritos, wraps from India and the Far East. These are normally painstakingly cooked from scratch using local suppliers instead of the low-quality pile ’em high Cash & Carry burgers and hot dogs (where the meat source is often questionable) typical with the greasy burger stalls.
A common misconception is that fast food immediately equates to low quality food but the artisan producers would certainly take umbrage with that.
So with such a burgeoning industry it seems ludicrous that not only are Peterborough City Council making things difficult for Chris and other food producers with similar aspirations, they appear to be pretty clueless to the entire concept!? It would be nice to see independents given the same support and promotion that the chain food outlets receive, perhaps adding a street food angle would be a way to improve what looks to be a failing Farmer’s Market in Cathedral Square?
I’m sure that if Chris wanted to open another pizza restaurant in Peterborough it would be a different story. If he did I would advise against naming it “Pavement Pizza”…
Let’s hope that someone at the council sees sense and works with Chris to finally put Peterborough on the street food map. Support Chris by following him on twitter.