Every year we gather our 70+ KERBanists together to regroup, reflect and discuss where the industry is going and how we will look to progress it.
All that talent under one roof – and the energy was huge. Highlight of the summit: a panel discussion with KERB Alumni, Bleecker Burger, Bao, Polu Poke, Club Mexicana and Shaftesbury’s, Julia Wilkinson.
Here are some gems from our all-female, powerhouse panel, shown in situ from their kerbside beginnings:
BLEECKER BURGER, ZAN KAUFMAN
No. 1 piece of advice for a new trader? Check yourself, be humble and don’t be entitled. When people start being entitled that’s the end of it. Just be thankful that you have your customers, appreciate your customers and fight between the lines.
Biggest learning? I was so food-focused that things had slipped. About a year ago, the food started to be not enough for me and I was realising I needed to put people ahead of food. I needed to serve kickass food in a great location with a diverse environment.
BAO, WAI TING CHUNG
Where did it all start? 6 years ago we hosted a supper club and invited the KERB team to try the food at Pacific Social coffee bar in Hackney. The three of us had never cooked a meal together before for anyone in our lives, and we did a very ambitious menu.
We never really had plans to open a restaurant. It was in our DNA; our parents ran food businesses and their parents ran food businesses and they hated it when we started; they couldn’t believe we were doing two or three items on the menu but have a queue – they’d have hundreds!
Biggest learning? Learning how to manage managers was one of our biggest learning curves. We started off doing everything ourselves: cooking, front of house, design, menus – (Shing and I still make the secret chicken spice!) But – you have to be able to delegate to grow the right team and free up time for yourself to be creative if you want your business to grow.
POLU POKE, CELIA FARRAR
Why did you start a street food business? The end goal was always to open a restaurant. Street food was a way into the industry, an opportunity to test our dishes and processes and see if there was a demand for poké. There wasn’t anyone else doing it at the time.
No. 1 piece of advice for a food business? If you start doing things you don’t believe in, the customer will pick up on it. Never spread yourself too thin.
Bonding time: one of our more seasoned traders, Makatcha, with one of our newest – inKERBator Turo Turo, who worked on Maria’s stall 3 years ago to get experience before setting up his business.
Dinner at the pub after for everyone at the Summit. Two friends, Gul and Zia, cooked up Afghani mandu with mint yoghurt, chillies and split peas, plus grilled meat naan wraps, charred to perfection. You might recognise Zia from Baba G’s Camden location (he’s hard to forget!), whilst Gul has been running Yum Afghan in Seven Sisters for the last 3 years. They eventually realised that 2 lads were better than 1 and kicked off 2 Lads Kitchen last month (LADS!). Look out for them on the InKERBator soon.