Street Food Festival

How to run a successful food truck – South African traders give us the inside scoop

At every popular market and music festival, there’s bound to be a food truck — not just the easy slap chip kind although those do, on occasion, hit the spot. South Africa has some delectable street food from pap and meat to Mexican tacos and boerie rolls, to name a few. The people cooking up a storm make the art of serving food look so pro that we think anyone can clap together 11 burgers in three minutes.

However, there’s a lot of labour that goes into running a kitchen from a van that customers who enjoy the food don’t see. We chat to Culture Kitchen and Lotus Food Truck, about what it takes to run a food truck.

Culture Kitchen

What do they serve? Anything from BBQ pulled pork buns to Eggs Benedict to formal three-course meals
City? Johannesburg
Where to find them at Visa Street Food festival? Johannesburg

Street Food Festival

What does your typical week look like?
We don’t do markets but rather a lot of private and corporate events. Sometimes, I have a week when I’m working two days and then sometimes I have two weeks where I’m working 11 days.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own food truck business?
Go ahead and jump in but know that can be difficult but everything has a solution. Make sure you have a backup. Don’t expect to be able to make enough money in the first year to live a normal, healthy life.
What do you enjoy the most about having a food truck?
There’s no average day.  It’s the freedom of choosing when and where you want to work.

Lotus Food Truck

What do they serve? Asian street food
City? Cape Town
Where to find them at Visa Street Food festival? The Mother City

What are some of the practical aspects of operating a food truck that outsiders might not think about?
Cape Town has perfect weather and environment for food trucks but legislation and local government has not caught up to the idea. They don’t allow trucks to trade on public land or on street. We constantly have to find pre-arranged opportunities to trade.
What inspired your menu?
Both Chris, my business partner, and I have travelled extensively around South East Asia, spending time in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. We love Asian food; the simplicity of ingredients and complexity of big flavours using a lot of fresh vegetables and herbs with a healthy twist.
What’s the advantage of having a mobile truck as opposed to setting up a restaurant?
There are considerable capital input required, even though your fixed costs are lower in comparison to a standard restaurant. The food truck industry is a tough one to crack, there was a massive growth in trucks over the last year, with over 50 trucks in Cape Town alone – there were only five or six the previous year. It takes a lot of hard work.

Other trucks to catch at Visa Street Food Festival ’17

Who? Pizza Piaggo
Where? Cape Town Street Food FestivalStreet Food Festival Pizza Piaggo has mastered the perfect crunchy-yet-chewy pizza crust made with the finest Italian flour that’s fermented for at least 48 hours. Operating out of an Ape, the Italian post-WWII transport solution for reliable delivery vehicles, and using Mozzarella from South Africa’s only water buffalo, their food is must-try for pizza lovers attending the Cape Town event.

Who? The Gatsby Station
Where? Johannesburg Visa Street FestivalGourmet Carts is bringing their Gatsby Station to the Johannesburg Visa Street Festival in South Africa’s first 1965 Land Rover Forward Control Food Truck. They’ve reinvented the traditional Cape Gatsby and even have a banting option. Tuck into a smoked chicken, bratwurst or a vegetarian Gatsby made with sweet potato fries and other locally sourced ingredients.

Who? Boulevard 82
Where? Cape Town Visa Street Food Festival Boulevard 82 aims to bring Mediterranean food to the streets of Cape Town from a 1982 Bedford truck. They bring a variety of cultures and cooking techniques to their creations including Espetada, Bolo do Caco, a type of Portuguese bread and Gyros, a traditional Greek meat dish. 

Who? The Rogue Cheddar
Where? Johannesburg Visa Street FestivalThis gourmet grilled cheese food truck is taking the ordinary toasted sandwich to the next level at the Johannesburg Visa Street Festival. They use artisanal sourdough bread, handmade farm butter and a selection of locally produced cheeses with fresh vegetables as well as a variety of grass fed meats to create what can only be described as “Ooey Gooey Goodness”.

Book your tickets for the Visa Street Food Festival taking place from 2 – 3 September in Cape Town and on 10 September in Johannesburg.

*This article was made possible by Visa Street Food Festival

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