Duck Truck: How to run a street food stall
13 Mar 2015
Duck Truck is a street food brand with a huge love for all things duck - from delicious wraps to scotch eggs and soups - they’ve got it all. Duck Truck was founded by Ed and Vernon, who are passionate about… yes, duck! The guys have spent years working with some of the best duck farms in the UK to learn how to get the best out of this amazingly versatile meat and get the people in the streets as excited about it as they are… This week they appeared in the Fenchurch Street Market for Mother’s Day and we chatted to one of the founders, Ed Farrell, to find out what it takes to run a street food business…
When did you launch Duck Truck? Where did the concept come from?
I used to work on a duck farm, it's true! I was a product development manager working to get more duck products on the supermarket shelves and trying to get more people to eat duck. I ate duck almost every day and fell in love with it, it's such an unspoilt, quality meat. I began to think and started The Duck Truck in late 2012.
What appealed to you about the Street Food Scene?
I read some books on the Street Food scene in the U.S. and that's where I got my inspiration from. There wasn't much about in the UK at that point, but now we're saturated with some wonderful traders!
Why did you chose to take Duck Truck to Fenchurch Market?
Location location location! A great spot in the centre of town, surrounded by lots of hungry workers!
What are the biggest challenges about running a street food market stall? How do you overcome them?
Logistics is my biggest headache. Getting to places, setting up, packing down. How to get fresh produce there and how to store it. Finding the good locations is also important. And at the right prices!
Staffing is also tough. All of my work is temporary, part time and seasonal, which means I have to staff events individually. Then all staff needs to be trained for food hygiene as well as on the job, so using lots of different staff makes it time consuming and expensive. I also believe that my staff are a huge part of my business, so keeping them happy and motivated is essential. Happy, fun staff tend to make for happy customers.
Keeping on top of health and safety is another challenge. Environmental health is the most important and being mobile makes that side of things twice as hard. Then there are things to consider such as gas, safety and electrical safety - these things you need to keep testing year on year to assure you are safe to trade. NCASS are really helpful with this.
Being mobile makes all of these challenges all the more fun!
Markets are often packed full of food offerings, how do you ensure your stall stands out amongst all the competition?
Having something different to offer helps, but you can easily stand out by making yourself look professional but not "high street", a little bit quirky and fun. People want to see what you're cooking so a bit of theatre is essential.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to a first time market trader?
Be prepared to work HARD, persevere and don't have overly high expectations.
What's been your favourite festival or market experience so far?
My favourite festival is CarFest, is very well run and a fantastic event. I often wish I wasn't working so I could enjoy it!
Would you consider launching your own restaurant?
That's my dream one day. I have to prove the concept works first, which is going well so far. Then I need to find somebody with a load of cash to fund it!!
Aside from Duck Truck, who are your favourite street food traders?
Los Churros Amigos are one of my fav's. Me and my staff love it when they're at an event with us, the perfect dessert after a duck wrap! I bumped into Le Rac Shack recently too, love what they are doing and takes me straight back to the Alps!
Where do you look for inspiration?
Young, exciting, bright people. There is a huge startup scene in London at the moment, everyone is quitting their jobs to start a business of their own! Meeting people, whatever their business ideas may be, is always inspiring and I learn a lot from those meetings and get involved in a lot of startup events purely for that reason.