If there's one positive thing that we could take away with us from the recession its that we all were forced to become smarter about how we spend money. This in effect has changed the ways we socialise, our behaviour towards health, food and travel. While many people sat around moping about what they've lost, there's always that smaller creative group of people in society that become inspired by hardship and constantly seek improvement for themselves and others in their environment. More than before we've seen a rise in independent food vendors and plenty of creative collectives thriving and taking risks in a very restrictive financial climate.
I took a recent trip to London and it was incredible to see all the different food concepts and open air street food markets which have sprung up in one of the biggest corporate cities in the world. These guys are basically going against the grain and providing Londoners with the best local produce and user experiences at ridiculously cheap prices. The best thing is you're sure to find them surviving right beside giant global food chains right in the heart of the uber trendy capital. London has a brilliantly unique mix of corporate and creative all bundled into the same buses, tubes, restaurants and parks. I believe social media is hugely responsible for the rise of these awesome food concepts- as humans we naturally love to boast about where we've been and what we've done and we document these bragging rights at least 4-5 times a day on various social channels. Everyone has become experts in 'breaking news' and social media has taught us to become better story tellers by constantly informing others about our latest discoveries. Discovery and food go hand-in-hand in London. With all that said here are a few street food concepts that are inspiring Londoners:
This pop-up mall concept is borne in Shoreditch, East London's uber hipster district. The part-retail part-food mall has been built by stacking disused shipping containers. They've 13 different food vendors on site and over 2 dozen retailers. The space is also used for events in the evening giving purpose to whhat would have been an empty concrete space beside a main road. Genius.
Night Tales just launched for the winter season last weekend. Its also situated in Shoreditch in a concrete lot behind some very prominent billboards which apparently never got planning permission to build a hotel. An eclectic mix of food vendors and bars, the outdoor market runs for 7 weeks Thursday-Sunday and entry fee is only £4 per person- they've also got epic DJs til late. The concept stripped back is so simple yet the space was rammed. No one cared that they were standing in the cold wrapped up in big coats and sipping hot cider, far from plush late bars and expensive fussy cocktails.
Based in the most unconventional space for a street food market, PUMP has set up camp in an old disused petrol station. The overhang offers a great bit of cover from the rain and 5 alternative food vendors.
When walking along Bishopsgate, the northeast of London's main financial district you'd probably never even spot this market- its hidden behind construction hoarding. When you look in, the market is literally just a huge open building site full of gravel. Not the most glamorous setting to be sitting noshing into your lunch. None the less the place is packed on lunch hour with suits sitting on picnic benches. Another amazing example of London's open-mindedness towards independent food vendors.
I would love to see the local councils in Ireland allowing more room for innovation in the food and creative industries, in fact I'll make it my mission with Lovin Dublin.