Our fantastic Summer Jam takes place this Saturday (12/08) and we’re incredibly excited about everything going on. Alongside all of the music, circus skills, movies and more there will also be a selection of scrumptious street food!
Among the wonderful traders involved is The Vegan Grindhouse, one of the most popular vegan street food traders in the Midlands and we are thrilled to have the guys from the Grindhouse coming along to the Custard Factory to be part of the day!
We caught up with founders Andy and Lisa to talk all things vegan street food as they prepare to bring their vibrant menu to Summer Jam!
How did The Vegan Grindhouse get started?
We started at the beginning of 2014, Lisa had been vegan around a year and we found that there was a lack of exciting vegan food options at events and festivals that we went to. Lisa had been writing her blog veganvox.co.uk for a year and had lots of people asking where they could sample the delicious recipes and food she was writing about and Instagramming. Andy became vegan at the beginning of 2014 and was working in a cafe, so we both decided to start our own vegan food business and fill the gap we found in the market.
Where do you get your inspiration?
We actually get our inspiration from mainly non-vegan sources; reading recipe books, watching food programmes, visiting other traders and restaurants and thinking, “how could we make something like that but make it vegan?” We then work on veganising the recipe and making it our own.
What is the key to getting a street food business right?
Listening to your customers, building up a loyal customer base, connecting with customers on social media and regularly attending the same events so people know where to find you.
What’s your particular favourite dish from you own menu?
Lisa loves the Kill Bill – it’s our 8-hour slow cooked barbeque pulled jackfruit burger with cheese and homemade BBQ sauce. It’s all of the flavours of the deep southern states of the US – smoky, BBQ, meaty – but without the meat! Andy loves the classic Bacon Cheeseburger – something many non-vegans think us vegans can’t have anymore – our tasty handmade quarter pounder, vegan cheddar slice, vegan bacon and mayo.
Do you have plans for any new dishes for your menu?
We introduce new specials every couple of months for our outdoor events, but we also love going to do kitchen takeovers at bars and restaurants where we can come up with a custom menu for that particular venue. Next Tuesday, for example, we start a 12-day residency at 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter where we have some exciting new menu items – The Chick’n Stack Burger, Loaded Fries and Apple Pie & Ice Cream.
Aside from your own, what’s the best street food dish you can remember eating/seeing?
Oh, that’s a tough one! There are so many good options now and many more vegan street food traders have popped up since we started. We love Mex it Up – all vegan Mexican food and we also can’t get enough of Vegan Junk in Nottingham who make amazing doughnuts! As for non-vegan traders – Buddha Belly have an awesome vegan noodle dish and Bare Bones Pizza do a mighty vegan pizza.
How important is it to have vegan-speciality street food traders?
We think it is important as it gives vegans, vegetarians, those cutting down their meat/dairy intake and those with allergies to eggs/dairy/lactose more options at events, as well as the peace of mind that the food is cooked in a kitchen with no chance of cross contamination from meat, fish, dairy and eggs. It also gives ethical vegans an option to purchase from an all-vegan business and to avoid putting money back into the industries that are we morally object to.
What’s the most memorable event you’ve traded at?
We have traded at almost 400 events so that’s a tough one, but our first event in Leamington Spa was pretty memorable because we blew all the electrics and couldn’t cook any food! We’d say the most memorable for us though is probably our first all vegan street food event which we hosted in Kings Heath. We were so nervous whether anyone would show up and if Birmingham was ready for an all vegan street food event and we were overwhelmed with the support. We had thousands of people show up and all the traders sold out of food. We hope to do some more of those events soon.
How excited are you about the Summer Jam this Saturday?
We are really looking forward to it! We haven’t traded at the Custard Factory for a couple of years now and it’s looking fab in the courtyard now that the pool has been filled in. There is a record fair, live music, children’s activities – it should be a really family friendly day out! We have booked the sunshine and we can’t wait to see everyone there and show them just how awesome vegan food can be!
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