How To Start Your Own Street Food Truck

Fancy jacking it all in and making gourmet tacos for a living? We asked the founder of London night time food market Street Feast, Dominic Cools-Lartigue, for his tips on getting started

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To be a good street food trader, you need to be an all rounder. As well as being a good cook and having a good product, you have to have business nuance. There's a lot of great cooks who don't do as well as they could because they're no good at marketing their stuff. 

You don't need to be a chef at all. At the end of the day, whatever it is that you're making needs to taste good. But people come into it from all sorts of backgrounds: we've got ex-city boys, bar managers, all sorts. 

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It takes a few months from having an idea to getting out there and selling. You need to do your research, you need to go to lunch markets, you need to see all the different ways you can earn your money in this industry.

There are people in this game, like Laurdos Mexican, who've got a van permanently at Whitecross market and another one for festivals and events like Street Feast. Plus, they'll do the odd pop-up supper club. Some people might only want to do one or two of those – it's a matter of spending time, going out there, seeing where you get a good response. 

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There's a real sense of camaraderie in the street food world. If you have an idea, go and talk to an established trader – they'll give you feedback.

You definitely need to start selling on the weekends and not quit your job for a while. You need to do that minimum six months, if not a year. You might have a good summer, for instance, but you need to be sure you can make money all year round. So give it a couple of seasons part time, see how you do.

What a lot of people don't realise is that a lot of street food work is physical – you're lugging your cookers, your gas bottles. So being fit helps.

Doing a lot of menu items is tough. Sometimes its good just to do one thing, and do it really well. It's about knowing what you can manage. But certainly have in mind whether this is something that could grow, and incorporate other things.

There's a truck called Le Bun who are doing great things right now. Their concept is classic French cooking techniques fused with American junk food. So stuff like a boeuf bourguignon burger and pulled confit duck.

At Street Feast, we ban vinyl banners – we ask people to use lightboxes or come up with something more exciting. We don't use those gazebo tents you find in market stalls, we build people individual shacks, then ask them to put their own stamp on it. So you'll see someone who's really gone to town and made theirs into a little mini diner. 

Social media is incredibly important to the street food business: it's such an image led industry, you want people to be sharing photos of your food to create a buzz. 

Visit streetfeastlondon.comStreet Feast (Dalston Yard) and Model Market (Lewisham) are running every Friday and Saturday until 27th September, and Riverside Feast is running every Thursday-Sunday until 31st August

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