Asked who this year’s Field Day headliners are, would you say Caribou, Ride and Patti Smith – or Street Feast? For at next’s month festival, held as ever in Victoria Park, food and drink will be as big a draw as the music.
Or if not, it will certainly be as eclectic. Faced with a sudden craving for cold biltong, churros and chocolate or just a plain old soft shell crab burger, you won’t be found wanting. Street food, needless to say, is experiencing something of a boom in East London.
Joe Taylor is a 28-year-old from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, who came down to London to seek his fortune as a street food vendor. “I don’t have another job or career as such that I want to do specifically,” he says. “So setting up my own business gives me the freedom to tie all my interests together: having fun, going to festivals and events and working outside.”
The parameters set, Joe needed an original idea – not easy in an already crowded market. As a vegetarian one food he found himself drawn to at festivals was halloumi cheese.
“A lot of other stalls might use halloumi as vegetarian option but I thought if I was just doing a vegetarian stall there I could do something a little bit different with it.”
As well as halloumi wraps, Joe was soon thinking up new cheesy products – all guaranteed to make you dream at night. Deep fried bread-crumbed halloumi, pieces of halloumi in a cone and salad boxes are all on the menu. But after premiering the idea at Winterville in December, he realised something was missing – a snappy (or even cheesy) name, an identity. Soon Moony’s Halloumi was born.
“I wanted to find a bit of an angle that would help me engage with people, so there’s a little mascot which is Mr Moony, and he’s basically made out of cheese,” Joe explains.
“The stall front is a bit of an intergalactic space theme comprised of recycled 12 inch records. In front of the records we’ve got space mountains which have got a volcano plume where the menu boards can be written on that. And there’s a few halloumi people and bits of artwork.”
The strength of the street food competition means some kind of hook is a sensible idea. Kate Greening is this year overseeing all the food at Field Day and has been bringing vendors to Field Day for five years under the Venn Street banner.
“When I started we only brought in 10 metres of food then, and now we’re filling the whole site,” she says. Kate explains that as well as including well-known street food traders such as Street Feast, they are trying to bring less established traders with new and exciting ideas into the site.
“It’s very niche, very specialist, rather than have people who can do everything, we want traders who do one specific thing and really specialise.”
Kate reels off some of the highlights on ‘food stage’ as though they were her favourite bands. Crabbie Shack, of crab burger fame, apparently put a whole crab in a burger bun. “It looks like a croissant but it’s not, it’s a crab,” she assures me.
Churros Bros will be frying up dough – Spanish-style – with specialist chocolate, a new Filipino trader Kusina Nova looks set to impress, then there’s hog roast, sushi wraps and, I’m told, “killer” mac and cheese from Anna Mae’s. There’s enough, I’m assured, to take a trip around the world in different street foods.
“We know what the food culture is in London, and this is a great way of celebrating that by bringing as many of the high quality traders together as we can,” Greening adds.