Our thoughts on all things foodie, street foodie, stuff we're passionate about, great ideas and the odd recipe!
Ouch, summer’s gone?
Been a long time since we rock and rolled in a blog sense, well since June. We’ve arrived at the end of our first full summer and it’s good to reflect on everything we’ve done, what our goals were, how we’ve performed and looking at what’s coming up.
Well, we moved into our space opposite Stirling railway station at the start of June. It was nearly 18 months of campaigning to bring street food to the city centre. You’ll know the story by now so I’m not going to replay any of that again, however it was quite a slog. Someone told us we should set up somewhere else as it’ll take a year to make anything happen. Ha, how we laughed at that. A year? Really? Well in actual fact it was a bit longer. Despite our tenacity and passion to bring new food to Stirling, some processes you just can’t rush. It’s not to say they are wrong processes, just that when you’re a new, small business setting up, the costs to the business could be reduced dramatically if things moved a bit quicker, even if it wasn’t a positive result.
Being in the city centre has been good fun. We’ve created a lot of interest from commuters, tourists and support from passers-by. We’ve had more than the odd “cheeseburger” or “roll in sausage” request on a daily basis. It’s not what we do obviously but if we can’t convert them to a breakfast burrit or daily special we direct them local cafes who do those things. It’s a fair eco-system we think.
Our pallet furniture from Transition Stirling has gone down really well. They are quirky and a bit different but work well with the edible borders and flower beds we have had going on. Apart from the isolated vandalism, they have been taken care of by customers and visitors alike and working in partnership with Stirling Council has also been positive.
I’ve got to say that each morning when I rocked up with Hervé, I wondered what litter and sometimes carnage from the previous night awaited us. Mostly it was cigarette butts or Macdonalds or Subway packaging but there some surprises and one . What got me goat was that there are two litter bins right there that were ignored so I ended up using my Keep Scotland Beautiful litter picker upper thing before Stirling Council would come along and do a sweep as well. It’s really amazing how much litter we have in this beautiful country of ours, a real shame.
Our daily menoos seem to have landed quite well. We do try and mix it up quite a bit now and again and that can be hit and miss but we try to learn from this. Our regular customers are truly awesome and we’ve become invested in their lives as we like a bit of banter.
On the events side, we declined so much over the summer in order to keep a persistent presence in Stirling. Last year we’d have jumped at the chance to attend Commonwealth Games, Merchant City Festival, Glasgow and Edinburgh Mela, World Pipe Band Championships and a few others however we felt that we couldn’t keep running away from after trying so hard to get the city centre pitch.
We balanced this with organising and hosting our own quirky events in Stirling. We ran two pop-up restaurants up at Cowane’s Hospital that both sold out and customers said they had a great time. The first one was fine dining and the second one was us serving new street food ideas from Hervé. We also worked with Creative Stirling on an outdoor pop-up cinema that showed Sunshine On Leith. Again it sold out quickly and despite the weather being a bit naff on the day, the giant inflatable covering really worked. We rounded off the summer with putting on a Bloody Cinema event for Bloody Scotland. I think that was my favourite event of the year as the customers really didn’t know what hit them as we made them dress up in prisoner outfits, had their mug shots taken and given their ‘slop’ as well as being lightly verbally abused before they sat down in the Old Town Jail to watch O Brother Where Art Thou.
So as autumn started to rear it’s auburn head, we noticed that footfall started to die down at Hervé’s home on Station Road, particularly when the wind and rain picked up. That’s fair enough and we expected it. No-one really wants to run about in the rain and try to find somewhere to eat their lunch when there are plenty of cafes and takeaway places with seating to keep dry and warm. Why didn’t we set up in Madrid?
Therefore we decided to close up over the winter. Despite what you might think, running a street food truck isn’t quite as cheap as you’d think. We have fully fitted kitchen premises as well as the truck in order to prep and store. There are also many other overheads as well.
Our goal for 2013 was to be the first street food trader in Scotland to secure a city centre pitch and really push the new concept of street food as a permanent feature. We’ve certainly done that and it was Stirling that was the first city to do this. We also wanted to work collaboratively with environmental agencies, local suppliers and growers and investigate if it’s possible to create and serve seasonal dishes from a truck, and gauge interest from local residents. Again we think we’ve achieved all this and have relationships with Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland, Grow Forth Network, Transition Stirling, Forth Environment Link, Stirling Council, Stirling Fringe, Destination Stirling and Creative Stirling.
There is a change happening in Stirling, some would say it’s been too long, but it is changing. We’ve found there’s a network of like-minded people trying to do something different and bring a range of fun, interesting and new activities to central Scotland. It’d be nice to not have to jump on a train to Glasgow and Edinburgh to see great art, entertainment or new food. I think there has been an expectancy that it’s Stirling Council’s responsibility to organise and fund everything but that’s just not feasible. We’ve found the council will support events but it’s really up to the people to get together and organise.
We hope we’ve added to this over the last year and certainly still want to do this for the foreseeable future. While we may have closed up Hervé for the winter, it’s our goal to continue to create and surprise people in the Stirling area with new events.
When me and her sat down a couple of years ago and discussed what we wanted to do next, a bistro was our first thought. Then as we looked around we couldn’t see a property that suited what we wanted to do. We still haven’t and continue to be on the lookout. In the meantime we are scurrying about and working with the organisations above to bring new events to Stirling.
Thank you all for your continued support and ideas, all of which we do truly appreciate. We do also love the banter and do miss our regular updates on your lives, loves and tribulations at Hervé. We hope to catch up with you soon at our events and bistro.
Loving Food's city centre pitch press release
Date: 15 June 2014
For immediate release
Street food brings new life to Stirling city centre
The revolution in street food has arrived in Stirling City Centre. Loving Food has opened it’s pitch in the newly redeveloped site opposite Stirling Railway Station with the official launch scheduled for Friday 20th May from 2.30-3.30pm.
Stirling’s newest food offering will be open Monday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch - bringing freshly-made, world-influenced food to the city’s residents, workers, shoppers and tourists with a new vibrant, exciting background and surrounding.
Stirling is the first city in Scotland to bring street food to a prominent city centre location as Loving Food serve up their trucking good street food after an 18 month campaign to gain permission.
Stewart Pleace and Sandra Milne, the duo behind the ‘trucking good street food’ company and pioneers of the street food movement in Scotland have had a long journey to bring gourmet food to Stirling from the day they purchased their vintage Citroen H Van right up to the day they finally obtained permission to trade at the new city centre location.
One of the biggest barriers the pair had to overcome was Stirling Council’s Hot Mobile Food Policy ED21 that prohibits hot mobile food being sold on council land in the city centre. With their converted van ready to start serving but no permission to trade, the Council’s advice was that they should find a private landowner who was willing to let them trade on their land and then apply for planning permission.
Winning hearts and minds was at the core of the company’s business strategy and the company engaged Business Gateway, Stirling Enterprise and landowners in Stirling to identify and agree terms for land at Station Road.
Fast forward 18 months and Loving Food was given the license to use the land to bring trucking good food right to the heart of the City Centre and planning permission was granted. SDA continued to offer support and the location has recently been temporarily redeveloped in partnership with Stirling Council and brought to life with publicity for Bannockburn Live 2014 and Stirling Armed Forces Day, both due to take place in the City this summer.
Commenting on their journey from seed of an idea to thriving business, Stewart Pleace said; “Despite the company having a compelling business case, policy ED21 was prohibitive. As you can imagine this was a setback, but in our minds not insurmountable. We’d invested significantly in our Citroen H Van and had a strong business plan to bring something to the city centre that would create interest and footfall. Our vision was to help energise the centre of city once again, work with SDA, the council, other local businesses and community groups to create positive energy, a visual space and promote other parts of the centre that were struggling with footfall.”
He added; “The journey has been unbelievably challenging but the support of SDA, senior officials at Stirling Council and Anne McGuire MP has been fantastic. They saw the potential, they actively engaged in helping us and we are beyond delighted that we have finally got to this point today. A dream has finally been realised!”
Citing the reasons for their choice of Stirling as a location for their business, Sandra Milne added; “The reason for choosing Stirling was that it has a diverse socio-economic profile due to the businesses that exist around it, the University and the many visitors that Stirling welcomes each year. People are expecting more from food offering, we recognised this and we wanted to change that. Our food has been very well received and we have regular visits from local prominent chefs and restaurateurs. I’m thrilled that visitors arriving in Stirling on train and bus can now see something visual, exciting, engaging and welcoming when they arrive. We couldn’t be happier!”
Johanna Boyd, Head of Stirling Council commented; “I am happy to see Loving Food bringing a great new food offering to Stirling, firstly at Stirling Enterprise and now in the city centre. Stirling Council has done an excellent job turning what was an unattractive entrance to Stirling from the train station into a blossoming and attractive city hub that draws residents and visitors into the city.”
Anne McGuire, MP also added; “It’s great to see Stirling at the forefront of the street food phenomenon. I wish ‘Loving Food’ the best in their long-running endeavours to bring something new in food to residents and visitors to Stirling.”
Loving Food will be based at Station Road, Stirling (opposite the railway station) serving up breakfast and lunch. The truck serves a range of fresh, wholesome and homemade food including flatbreads, stews, soups, grilled halloumi, quesadillas, savoury filled brioche, tacos, burritos and freshly made cakes with a changing menu every day.
Pop along for the official launch of Loving Food on Friday 20 June from 2.30-3.30pm to sample some street food and meet Hervé the Citroen H Van along with the Loving Food team.
For all media enquiries and to arrange interviews with Loving Food please contact:
Tel: 07957 597929
Notes for Editors:
- Photo call on Friday 20 June at 3pm when Anne McGuire MP and Johanna Boyd support the official launch of Loving Food at Station Road, Stirling. The launch is open to everyone with free samples of street food to give away and a competition for visitors to win lunch for a week.
- The land at Station Road is owned by Stirling Development Agency (SDA) and remains earmarked for redevelopment. Loving Food have a short-term rolling license for use until such time the land is redeveloped.
- Loving Food has successfully paved the way for a new street food scene in Scotland, providing freshly prepared, wholesome, interesting food served with friendly, affectionate banter to customers.
- Loving Food founders Sandra Milne and Stewart Pleace come from a marketing and digital background, having both worked for FTSE100 companies, government, SMEs and creative agencies.
- Stewart and Sandra compare the revolution in street food to the coffee shop boom of the 1990s with the explosion of coffee shops that are still popular today.
- Stewart and Sandra have also set up Street Food Scotland, an organisation dedicated to promoting the expanding street food movement in Scotland and supporting the growing community of quality street food vendors in the country.
- Gourmet food truck scenes are now commonplace in the UK, particularly in England, and there is now an annual Street Food Awards ceremony, celebrating the best of British street food.
- Loving Food also caters for a range of public and private events from festivals, weddings, sporting events and special themed days.
- For more information about Loving Food please visit www.loving-food.com
- Follow Loving Food on Facebook - www.facebook.com/LovingFoodTruck and get all the daily specials on Twitter @LovingFoodTruck
- Trading daily in a city centre is not mainstream in Scotland due to each council having a prohibitive hot mobile food policy. This is called policy ED21 in Stirling.
Some you win, some you keep on trucking
Hi again. Did you have a good Easter break (if you celebrate it of course)?
It’s been a fair old month since we last talked. Can I lie down on the sofa? Thanks.
Where … to … begin …
Well it started when I was a child. Dark lonely nights, rain, wind, shadows, clowns.
Sorry, I digress.
April, yes April, that’s what I was gonna talk about. April is certainly one of my favourite fourth month’s of the year and this one was no exception. We started off with our first pop-up restaurant night in Stirling. Cowane’s Hospital (ok, it’s not really a hospital but then our Boston-baked beans are never baked in Boston, go figure) was a great first venue for it. Soaked in history and atmosphere, it really lent itself to our loose theme of magic. We had beer from Fallen Brewing Company in Kippen and wine from Woodwinters in Bridge of Allan plus a menu that was quite removed from our street food fare, although we did throw in brigadeiros at the end with a little wink to those in the know.
The night was a sell-out and everyone who attended were lovely and the feedback has been great, so much so that we are in the throes of planning our next few.
Not only that. We have been moving and shaking with some very nice people and organisations to help arrange and also pop-up and serve at events. Over the next couple of months we’ll be at:
- FRESH: Fintry Renewable Energy Show, Saturday 3 May
- Gardening & Nature Festival in Perth, Saturday 17 May
- The Big Woodland Event in Bridge of Allan, Saturday 17 May
- Art on the River event in Perth, Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 May
- Creative Stirling Sub Club event, Old Town Jail in Stirling, Friday 31 May
- British Military Fitness Major Series, Cardross Estate, Saturday 7 June
- Commonwealth Event for Creative Stirling, Sauchie, Saturday 7 June
- Adventure Festival in Perth, Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 June
- Champions of Tennis event in Edinburgh, Thursday 19 – Sunday 22 June
That’s enough to keep us out of trouble at the weekends. Weekends huh? Who needs ‘em.
Then at the end of June we’re pretty flat out with the National Armed Forces Day and Bannockburn 700 all happening in Stirling. Plus, on the evening of the National Armed Forces Day, Hervé will be guest of honour (in a working capacity I may add) at an outdoor cinema event at the Old Town Jail of Sunshine on Leith. He’s looking forward in particular to that one, having to sign autographs and look all enigmatic and the like. I’m looking forward to him doing the dance for 500 Miles. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.
So those are some of the events we’ve been working on, plus a load more throughout the rest of the year including some secret cinema nights, Stirling Fringe street food picnic, Bloody Scotland and something even more intriguing.
We are still trading Monday – Friday at STEP in Stirling which is great however we had hoped to have moved to our space opposite Stirling train station by now. We’ve done all the “heavy lifting” as they say in project management speak. We’ve secured the license to operate, went in and cleaned up the space with Clean Up Scotland, started working with Transition Stirling on some super-sexy pallet furniture and Stirling Council have come on board and helped landscape the land for us. We’ve been working closely with Zero Waste Scotland and Forth Environment Link on recycling and environmental impact. It’s finally not the eyesore it’s been for a long time and is starting to look really good as the first thing visitors and commuters see when they step out of the station. Not before time I reckon.
The last hurdle we’re still trying to get over is planning permission. Has taken a bit longer than we’d hoped and there is another delay that means we won’t hear until after the Planning Committee meeting on 27 May. Obviously this hurts.
Suffice to say that after nearly 18 months of researching, lobbying, networking, presenting, meeting and working bleedingly hard, we are hopeful that this will be the last hurdle and we can fire ahead to get our idea of regenerating city centre wasteland into a vibrant, exciting and tasty hub for residents and visitors off the ground.
Instead of curling up in a ball and rocking back and forward we're busy PowerPointing and talking to the council to campaign for street food on station road. If you fancy helping you can support our campaign. Share the blog. Let's get #stirlingstreetfood
Our first pop-up restaurant night
Tickets are now on sale for our first pop-up restaurant night at Cowane's Hospital, Stirling on Friday 4 April.
We expect it to be a great night and thanks to those who have already pre-ordered tickets. We want to serve great food in unique locations around Stirling and Cowane's Hospital will be the first of a few we have planned for this year. All will be different, and if you know us you'll know they will be quirky.
The menu isn't street food this time, it's a four course menu with a free drink on entry plus some entertaining street magic.
We'll be serving modern Scottish craft beer from the new Fallen Brewing Company based in Kippen along the road, and wine is from Woodwinters in Bridge of Allan. The guys have kindly matched both their beers and wine with our menu and you can try them out or go your own sweet way.
Arrive at 6.30pm for your free drink and entertainment before we kick of the meal at 7pm.
You can view the menu here.
Tickets are £29 per person and include four course menu, a free drink on entry plus some magical entertainment to keep you amused throughout the evening.
If you are suitably convinced this'll be a good night out - and why wouldn't you be - you can now buy tickets online through Paypal.
We hope you're coming and can't wait to serve you.
The March in
Wow, that’s us half way through March in the year of our Lord 2014. Whoosh, it’s flown by. The wind has certainly helped, seems to be pretty much gale force most of the time, at least in our current position at STEP.
That said, it’s nearly time to move on. You may, or may not, know that we’ve been beavering away trying to secure a more prominent pitch in Stirling city centre for over a year. It’s been a fair wee journey involving a fair few discussions, meetings and the ubiquitous PowerPoint. We tried not to, but merely talking about Hervé without images and succinct bullet points just wasn’t cutting the mustard.
So, we have secured a license to operate on land opposite Stirling train station and we are going through the process of planning permission that, fingers crossed, will be gained in a few weeks. One of our goals has been to try as hard as possible to get a foothold in the city centre and promote the benefits of quality street food. If we’re successful with planning permission then we believe we’re the first in Scotland to get a city centre pitch and we hope that this’ll inspire other city centres to do similar.
The space we have to operate is a bit larger than Hervé and we have also been working away with community groups, Stirling Council, Creative Stirling and Zero Waste Scotland to maximise use of the space. More details on some of these exciting developments we’ll share soon. There’s nothing like a wee tease now and again, a tickle if you will.
We aren’t totally abandoning STEP though, we have really appreciated the support they have provided us along with Business Gateway in helping us get off the ground. We have a kitchen at STEP and we’ll be able to provide sustenance to businesses there.
In other news, we have started taking our street food to businesses with our outside catering lunch menoo. We’ve been refining the menoo over the last couple of months but have rocked up at Prudential, Zero Waste Scotland, Sports Scotland and YouTrain so far. If you fancy something different for your business lunch meetings then you can view it on catering page.
Another one of our goals for this year is to create some exciting pop-up restaurant nights in quirky places in Stirling. Stirling has so many lovely buildings we think are great to host something a bit different in terms of a night out. We’re not talking street food here, it’s much more sit-down dining. A new addition to the Loving Food team is John Logue who is now our head chef. John joins us having worked at Prestonfield, The Bonham and Nick Nairn’s Kailyard restaurant. As you’ll see, our pop-up nights will certainly reflect John’s experience and passion for great food and he’s also bringing that to bear on Hervé too.
Reviewing the situation
Hey you guys. As we wave goodbye to 2013, we’ve been reviewing how our little business has got on since we started back in May. There have been highs, lows, tears, laughter, leaks, sun, wind and a lot of rain. We wouldn’t say the lows were lows but more learnings not to be repeated, well at least we tried not to repeat them.
The core of what we try to do is marry up great street food with personality. We think we’ve achieved that throughout 2013, and need to continue working on this as the team grows.
Some of what we consider highs of 2013 included catering our first wedding. It was a baptism of fire as we’d only been up and running for a month. Allied to this was that it was on the same weekend that Hervé was up in Inverness for the Scottish Open Golf Championship and the wedding was in Braemar. Got to say that we loved the wedding of Sarah and Dag. They looked amazing and the wedding location at Mar Lodge was fantastically picturesque and blessed with great weather. We catered the evening meal the night before the big day, wedding meal, evening reception and breakfast the day after. A lot of work but the feedback from Sarah and Dag plus the guests was great. We also catered a few birthdays taking Hervé along with his fairy lights and serving food at 40ths, 50ths and even a 1st birthday.
Transporting Hervé up to Inverness for the golf was a new thing for him. He likes to meander along the highways and byways under his own steam generally. I think he was put out being on the back of a transporter. The golf was blessed with the same fantastic weather as the wedding that made it great for spectators. It was our first experience of the effect of weather on our menu and also working a fair distance from home. We learned loads. The other vendors were very friendly and The Laughing Stock who organised for us to be there were really helpful and friendly too. Hope we can work with Jack, Amy and Sarah again in the future.
Although the street food scene in England is more mature than up here, a big coup for us was being able to trade Monday through Friday in Stirling. Currently, we think we are the only street food vendor trading weekdays in Scotland and although we are kinda hard to find unless you know us, you guys have liked us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter that has built up more of an awareness of us. And once you’ve tried our food you tell and bring others to Hervé, which we really appreciate. The more the merrier. We aim to be more visible this year and if you feel like telling other people about us please do, we also have a couple of TripAdvisor reviews now.
We have really been campaigning in Scotland for street food to be more readily available. Some of our peers regularly attend weekend markets and festivals but we all think Scotland is ready for really good quality street food to be available to those that want it, not just at weekends. There is obviously an appetite (sorry) for this as we had over 500 people attend Scotland’s first outdoor street food festival in Stirling in September at Stirling’s Old Town Jail that we organised with Creative Stirling. We aim to organise more of these this year so we’ll share the details soon.
We were asked to lots of events the length and breath of Scotland including the Merchant City and Vintage Festival in Glasgow, Lomond Shores, BBC Proms in the Park, orienteering events (thanks Jon), Bridge of Allan, Linlithgow, Livingston and Perth amongst others, so Hervé has racked up a few miles on his clock. He even had a (minor) starring role in Sunshine on Leith that thankfully didn’t go to his head. In fact he broke down when he got on set. Physically, not emotionally.
The Loving Food family had to increase in size as well. We now have Fiona, Josh and Shannon working alongside us and they have settled in really well. We were asked a few times if we did outside catering for work lunches and meetings so we worked on a menu that would allow us to bring our street food inside and provide customers with something unique and tasty.
So, the sixish months of 2013 that saw us get up and running have certainly been interesting and a great learning experience. For 2014 we want to bring our food to customers who have a passion for street food and a bit of banter and see if we can build upon 2013 and take street food forward in Scotland for foody events, weddings, birthdays and other outside catering events as well as day-to-day trading in Stirling.
As ever, we appreciate everyone’s support and contribution and we want our customers to be part of Loving Food so feel free to continue to offer feedback, suggestions and witty banter.
Not quite the groom's speech
We’ll get around to letting you know how our first six months as Loving Food truck has gone shortly, but what we’d like to say first is thank you.
Ok, it’s a parody of Kanye’s Runaway song, however it expresses what we feel:
Let’s have a toast for our suppliers,
Let’s have a toast for Business Gateway,
Let’s have a toast for our peers,
To every one of them we say cheers.
Let’s have a toast for our patrons,
That help us keep our grins on,
Folks, we have a plan,
Keep you as happy the best that we can.
Our suppliers have been supportive and help us use quality ingredients when we create our street food. Emily from Grow Forth Network has us thinking really local and we’ll do more sourcing and partnering this coming year.
Business Gateway, in particular Sandy Slater has been instrumental in getting us our first pitch at STEP in Stirling. The guys at STEP equally have been great in their support and continue to pop along for lunch.
To all the other street food vendors we’ve worked with at various events this year across Scotland we’d like to say it’s been a pleasure working alongside you. Babu Street Kitchen, Fire in Babylon, City of Avalon, The Laughing Stock, Harajuku Kitchen and Italian Pizza Van. Hopefully we’ll work some more together this year as well as we all try to drive people to great quality street food.
As for all our customers, a hearty thanks from the bottom of our collective hearts (including Hervé’s). To our regular regulars at STEP, including but not limited to: David the map man, James the upholsterer, Iain the massively helpful Honda guy, Donna at Good Green Fun, Gordon Bell, Derek Blyth et al at STEP, Ferguson Coal peeps, Paul the advertising guy, Stirling Infirmary nurses, agency team at Prudential, Aquaman, Rory the hydroponics guy, Kerr (so funny) and Ruari from You Train, James & Julie from Printing.com, Joanne and Robert the scientists, Martin Merrilees, Mrs Ross our first Tripadvisor reviewer, and the phenomenal Zero Waste Scotland crew of Jon, Ross, Jenny to name but three of them. There are others as well but it’s turning into a long groom’s speech.
Finally, thanks to Ann Maguire MP, the Bridge of Allan Massive (Alison, Chloe, Nikki), Creative Stirling and those who support us from afar, including Ann Nilima Ruel who came all the way from the USA. Respect.
Loving Food and Creative Stirling present: Feast-ival!
Loving Food and Creative Stirling are delighted to announce details of Feast-ival, Stirling’s first street food festival which will take place on Saturday 14th September at Stirling’s Old Town Jail yard.
The yard will be transformed to bring street food from all around the world to Stirling along with entertainment, drinks and fun things for all of the family.
Street food vendors include:
- Fire in Babylon bring West Indies inspired dishes
- Harajuku Kitchen bringing authentic Japanese cuisine
- Babu Bombay Kitchen making wholesome homemade curries
- Loving Food cooking up some South American inspired delights
Stirling Whisky Shop will also be at the event hosting whisky tastings.
The festival runs from 11am to 4pm and features live music from Puff Uproar and the Shimmering Sound Affair, Tom Foolery and Steven Kemp. The event will also feature screenings of the classic children’s movie, ‘The Iron’ at the cinema club which is being held in the old town jail.
The event is free to attend and has something for foodies, families and friends. Book your free ticket at www.creativestirling.org/events/creative-stirling-cic-presents-feast-ival.
For more Information, please contact Sandra Milne (Co-founder of Loving Food)
Noted for Editors:
1. The event is the first of its kind in Stirling, bringing a celebration of street food and entertainment to the area.
2. The vendor line up includes:
Babu Bombay Kitchen
Fire in Babylon
Stirling Whisky Shop
3. The musical line up includes:
Puff Uproar and the Shimmering Sound Affair
4. Entry is free upon reservation. Reservations: csfeastival.eventbrite.com
5. For more information, please visit
6. Loving Food is paving the way for the start of an exciting new street food scene in Scotland, providing freshly prepared, wholesome, interesting food served with friendly, affectionate banter to customers.
7. Loving Food founders Sandra Milne and Stewart Pleace come from a marketing and digital background, having both worked for FTSE100 companies, government, SMEs and creative agencies.
8. Stewart and Sandra compare the revolution in street food to the coffee shop boom of the 1990s with the explosion of branded coffee shops which are still popular today.
9. Gourmet food truck scenes are now common place in America (roaminghunger.com), particular famous in cities such as San Francisco (offthegridsf.com) and New York (nyctruckfood.com). London (kerbfood.com) has recently established a vibrant scene and other British cities including Leeds and Manchester are now following suit and creating flash events.
10. Loving Food are based at the Stirling Enterprise Park (STEP), John Player Building, Monday to Friday from from 9am to 2pm.
11. The company also caters for a range of public and private events from festivals, weddings, sporting events and special themed days.
12. For more information about Loving Food, their daily menu and where they’ll be appearing, please visit www.loving-food.com
13. Follow Loving Food on Facebook - www.facebook.com/LovingFoodTruck and on Twitter @LovingFoodTruck
Creative Stirling is a Community Interest Company based in the Old Town Jail in the City’s historic quarter.
It is a not-for-profit, volunteer organisation keen on developing a creative hub, with space and facilities to support the creative and cultural industries, as well as the broader community. Creative Stirling hosts music and other cultural events in its outdoor yard space and in other spaces around the city.
Creative Stirling project manages external arts projects and are developing a portfolio of partnerships with national and Stirling based businesses and agencies to support this. The organisation is committed to making opportunities for the creative young talent pool of Stirling to thrive, settle and have a positive impact on the identity of the City and its local economy.
Three months, it's like a quarter
It’s certainly been a rollercoaster this last three months. It’s been complete change for both of us as we aim to bring quality street food to central Scotland.
I mean, we’ve left our jobs, changed our hair, donned aprons and try to talk in non-corporate terms. Gone are the days of “holistic approach”, “deep-dive”, “touch base” or “bench strength” and days now consist of “arepa fillings”, “how’s Hervè feeling”, “are the tortilla baskets crispy?” and “ouch” as we regularly scar ourselves on hot surfaces.
Would we change it? Not yet, we both love learning new things and enjoy change. Every day is an adventure, literally. One day we can be trading at STEP during a quiet spell and wondering about improving footfall, the next we are up at the Scottish Open Golf discussing the health benefits of hot sauce with a caddy.
So far, there are probably three topics that we discuss most: footfall, people and of course menu. Footfall is probably the dominant thought of the three. We have found that setting up a quality street food business in Scotland is not easy. As we went through research and networked with other businesses we found that generally Scottish councils are a bit behind their English counterparts. Vibrant new street food scenes are already up and running in London, Bristol and now Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester yet peers in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as ourselves have really struggled to get local councils to embrace new entrepreneurial businesses and move away from the “white burger van” image of old. That said, we have managed to get a regular weekday pitch at Stirling Enterprise Park (STEP) in Stirling with the great support of Business Gateway and STEP who offered us space the moment we pitched our idea. Despite Stirling Council’s policy of not allowing mobile hot food in the city centre, we received planning permission and started trading in June.
It’s been a slow start as we wanted to start off quietly and build our reputation and experience before really trying to market ourselves to a wider audience. We think it’s worked, we have regular weekly customers from STEP, nearby businesses and even followers on Facebook and Twitter driving from Edinburgh and Hamilton amongst other places to try our food. This is the people stuff. People who visit Hervè seem to really enjoy our food, everything from cake of the day and soup through to Venezualan arepas and homemade flatbreads. We had a big smile on our face one day when one of our Facebook followers Eddy, a Venezualan tracked down the truck and gave us the big thumbs up on our arepas. Hi praise indeed. We now just need to persuade Eddy to come down with some of his band players and we can have a Venezualan Funky Friday (with arepas on the menu obviously).
As well as day-to-day trading, we have also been asked to a lot of events and hunted down some ourselves. Great ones for us so far have been orienteering competitions, a large wedding in Braemar, Armed Forces Day and the Trossachs Ton cycling sportive. The Scottish Open Golf was great exposure to a large event and we took some great learnings on logistics, menu and resourcing. Weather plays a big part and the Stirling Scribblers Picnic was rather weather affected however we still got our first celebrity customer with John Hartson making a beeline for us and having a pulled pork flatbread (he doesn’t like vegetables apparently).
So what are our aims for the next quarter? Footfall and promotion are our main thoughts. Street food is a business based on great location and consistent footfall. Rather than opening Monday through Friday at STEP and having a quiet start to each week, we are going to do Wednesday through Friday starting this week for a few weeks to try and make time to get all over our planning, marketing and promotion and continue to push for a city centre location. We realise from our peers and our own experiences that this isn’t quick but it’s a must for our business to succeed and get quality Scottish street food up the level of our southern peers. We have been asked to serve at the Royal National Mod in October for ten days in October so we’re brushing up on our Gaelic (could take some time, we can barely speak English). This weekend we are serving at the Vintage Festival in Glasgow and then curating our own street food Feastival day alongside Creative Stirling for the inaugural Stirling Fringe on September 14th, hope you can come along to that and support ourselves and other invited street food vendors.
If you have any ideas or messages of support, as ever we would love to hear from you. Loving Food is about passion for great street food and personality so here’s to the next quarter that shall then be a half.
Loving Food out.
Fame and fortune. Well, fame.
So Hervé had his 10 minutes of fame a few weeks ago in Edinburgh. He was part of the final scene for the Proclaimers movie 'Sunshine on Leith'. It was quite a journey we went on. The first being the virgin motorway adventure at a top speed of around 50mph. It was 6am that we set off so hopefully didn't irritate too many daytime commuters.
It was a pretty perfect journey in all until we switched off the engine at the venue as we had to wait to get in. Only problem was that Hervé decided that his starter motor had had enough, what with this being his first big journey, and therefore it required lots of strapping men who were brought in to push Hervé into position for the film shoot. He remained aloof to the proceedings.
We were on set for three days and listened and danced to 500 Miles about a gazillion times. All in all we think it went well and met a few friends along the way. It was strange to have to refuse to sell to tourists as it was all about the show and not so much business.
We have to say a big thank you to Ronnie who dealt with all of the vehicles on set. He took great care of us and managed to get us started up and on our way home.
Loving Food out.
Is it a launch? Not sure, but we’re serving
We thought long and hard about having a launch event. The ins and outs, ups and downs, inside outs and outside ins. But what we came out with, was that we just wanted to serve some nice lunch and tell people about it.
So that’s what we’re doing.
On Friday 3rd May from 11am – 3pm, we’ll be serving some tasty lunch grub at The Old Town Jail in Stirling. Our friends at Creative Stirling have allowed us to drive our ‘as yet unnamed’ truck through the ancient portals (gate) and pitch up there for the day.
We’ll post the menu on Thursday but will involve homemade flatbreads with fillings plus a stew, a soup of the day and cake of the day plus hot and cold drinks. Oh, and a new salad we’re trying out.
Not only has the notion of having a launch event been weighing us down, it's the fact that our vintage Citroen H Van is still going under the moniker of ‘as yet unnamed’ truck. This cannot continue, it’s unfair to him (yes, he is a him. He has an exhaust pipe) and unfair to us as we stutter out mumblings when asked what his name is.
So, with that in mind, we hope you’ll pop along on Friday and try us out but also that your creative juices will flow from now until then and that you will enter our competition to name ‘as yet unnamed’ truck.
It wouldn’t be a competition without a prize (it’d probably be a survey), so we’re offering up munch lunch for a month with Loving Food. Even deciding on a prize isn’t without a minefield of considerations, thus we have provided terms & conditions to keep you amused and aware of these considerations.
Loving Food out.
Baptism of fire (well water)
As we continue to drive forward, well drive to a point then stop and serve, we paused to reflect on our first event that we undertook last month.
What can we say: it was exciting, scary at moments, lots of fun, satisfying, frustrating and rewarding. If you look at those words you'll see the positives outweigh the negatives. Being brutally honest, even with all the planning we undertook, you guys can still throw a curve ball now and again but that's what makes life interesting and tasty!
A couple of weeks before the event, we rocked up to see Kenton Cool
We tried that...
Generator didn't start when we got to Tulliallan. Dammit. Then a bearded vision called Ken leapt from a hedge with the offer of a spare generator and we were off and running (I should mention that we had to lug the generator over an obstacle course to get it where it needed to go but combining street food and exercise is a good thing isn't it?).
Next thing we learned was that as soon as you open the hatch, people come. Even if they see you driving to a halt. Peoples expectations are high and we had to manage them through banter, although we may add magic tricks in future.
We served our flatbreads with pulled pork and 'slaw, halloumi, spinach and salsa verde, beef and root veg stew and north African squash and chickpea stew. Why not, it was really, really wet and cold and we were serving orienteers, who thankfully found their way to us.
Saturday went well although we ran out a bit sooner than we had expected. Pulled pork went first, then stews, hot drinks flew out the hatch (in cups) and we only sold two cold drinks.
Sunday at Loch Katrine was smoother, although the audience was the same we sold out of cold drinks quickly, that was surprising as even the weather was the same as Saturday. Water was a scarce resource, even next to a Loch! However we got there and our (as yet un-named) van made it easily through the tight bendy roads to our pitch.
Have to say the customers who rocked up to the van were awesome, really friendly, chatty and appreciated what we are trying to do. Equally, the organisers were great and we hope to be able to partner up again some time.
So, onto our official launch event and weekday pitch in Stirling. Can't wait!
Mmm… all that choice
We love that street food events are popping up in cities across the UK. Kerb in London and Guerilla Eats in Manchester are blazing the trail with regular street food traders all satisfying the appetites of foodies and lunchgoers alike.
Creating a real community where people can go and try different types of food for a quick lunch or evening out with friends sounds like fun. Don’t know about you, but here at Loving Food we always have different views on what we want to eat, especially when one of us is a meat eater and the other is a vegetarian, so having a choice and eating together is perfect.
Leeds are getting in on the act too with Amazing Grace: street food/art music/bazaar in April. Got us thinking about what we could do in Stirling, so we’re off to chat to Creative Stirling to see what’s possible. We’ll keep you posted!
We are continually trying and honing our menu in preparation for next month. We will be doing some 'flash' tastings along the way to stress test the menu.
During the winter (isn't it always winter here?) we got down and dirty with quince and made quince and chilli jam to go with our halloumi flatbreads and also some quince jelly, mainly to go with our cheese and oatcakes. Sad to say that the quince jelly is almost gone :( The silver lining is that wild garlic season is nearly upon us, shazam!
Loads in Stirling
As we set up in Stirling, we have found that there are loads of initiatives on the go. Many are to bring lots of like-minded individuals and companies together to benefit each other as well as encouraging people to get involved.
Creative Stirling is great at this, in fact we popped along to their 'pop-up cinema' just before Christmas at Brea to watch Die Hard (such a Chrismassy film!). Was good fun and something different. Have to say, the food there was better chain cinemas!