Marking 10 years on the KERB, we spoke to our Founder Petra Barran about how it all began, her vision a decade ago, her dream dinner guest, and what the next 10 years has in store for KERB…
WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS?
I love getting out and about in the world. I love exploring. I love getting off the beaten track and just pounding the pavement. I just love talking to strangers – and I think that’s why I love street food, all these ‘strangers’ soon become your friends.
TELL US ABOUT CHOC STAR
Choc Star was born out of my van, Jimmy, that I bought on eBay. I drove Jimmy all over London and across the country. It introduced me to this whole community of street food traders who were just giving it a go – having a pop and battling the elements of England, trying to make a bit of money and having a real laugh while doing it.
Selling food on the streets is very uncertain. You’ve got to be a bit of a gambler and you’ve got to be really, really resilient and willing to get on with a lot of hard work. It’s really physical, but for those who ‘get it’, it creates an amazing energy to be around. I wanted to create more of that.
WHAT WAS YOUR VISION FOR KERB 10 YEARS AGO?
My vision for KERB from the get-go was for KERB to become part of the fabric of the city. I really wanted it to be normal to eat good food on the street. I didn’t want it to be something that only existed in restaurants or places that weren’t for everyone. I wanted to make the streets more interesting. I felt like London was becoming a lot more homogenous and flat and culture was feeling less distinct. Everything was feeling a little bit the same, and I wanted to inject flavour, independence, energy and talent from the curb up. I wanted to make London taste better and to fight against what felt like a massively bland dining wave coming our way.
IF YOU COULD START A STREET FOOD BUSINESS AGAIN TOMORROW, WOULD YOU?
I don’t know if I would start a street food business tomorrow because it’s really hard work… I’m in my forties now and it’s a bit of a young person’s game – it’s not for the faint-hearted.
I’m really glad that KERB is so established now. It shows just how far we’ve come.
IF YOU COULD ONLY EAT ONE DISH FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It has to be warm pain au chocolat with a bowl of hot chocolate!
IF YOU COULD FEED SOMEONE DEAD OR ALIVE?
Marlon Brando. Preferably alive.
WHAT’RE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR THE LONDON STREET FOOD SCENE OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
That’s a hard question. Street food has become much more professional in the last 10 years, which is brilliant because it creates more structure, and within the structure there’s more freedom for all of these businesses to exist. You can’t exist in chaos forever.
There are already so many amazing food businesses starting, they’re just not necessarily on the street. They’re operating out of hatches, from their own kitchens, from bicycles, and so on. It will never stop developing.
YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS FOR KERB OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
KERB has an amazing incubator scheme that nurtures new talent on the scene. I’m really excited to see how that develops and how we can continue to use our ever-growing platform to drive real change and what KERB can offer to people wanting to serve London and beyond.