The Kerb food truck event happened last Thursday just north of Kings Cross in a very cool newly regenerated urban area that will serve as a link between the very busy neighborhood of Camden and the city center. To me, there is a very democratic and American feel to this culinary movement and my talks with the various food truck chefs only reinforced my hunch.
The party kicked off with a food truck parade at lunch time. A what, you ask? Yes, all of the food vans, brightly colored and full of character, drove around Kings Cross station in a conga line. They honked their horns (one was a moo-cow sound) and the staff hung out the windows waving at passers-by. It was an jubilant display of community pride. Finally, the trucks wove their way into the pavillion next to the refurbished industrial granary buildings, to start prepping their mis en place for the coming evening.
I made my way back to the pavillion about an hour before the event was due to begin at 6pm. I hoped to talk to many of the food truck chefs before the DJ started pounding and perhaps talk to the founder of KERB, Petra Barran, just named one of the ten people who changed the world by The Independent, for redefining street food and regenerating urban spaces. Petra is a very unassuming woman who I liked very much. When I finally did speak to her, she kept worrying that people were waiting in line too long for food and asking me if I thought the event was as terrific as she did. It was endearing. I don’t want to give away much of what she said on camera but essentially there is a feeling that there is a movement within the culinary world away from formal, expensive dining where the chefs and customers never interact, towards an informal, inexpensive experience where the barriers between chefs and patrons are removed. It’s kind of exciting, no?
Petra’s comments were reinforced by every chef I spoke to. Many were sick of working in the basements of a restaurant kitchen for hours on end. Others had aspirations of opening their own restaurants but would never be able to afford London rents. All of them spoke fondly of the sense of community within the food truck world and feeling part of an exciting trend. And, I must say, they were all putting out excellent food.
Now, let’s get down to the real business at hand! The highlight of my night was a pork bun by Yum Bun (that I waited in line for 40 minutes to get) that gives David Chang at Momofuku a run for his money. The pork belly was deliciously tender and entire combination of flavors, simple and delightful! Another standout was a scallop served on a celeriac puree with old spot bacon served by Healthy Yummies (prepared by chef Nichola in a fantastic 40s style outfit being filmed for her new Food Network show that will follow her in her food truck around the country). The Speck Mobile served up an authentic Austrian goulash with a fantastic dark seeded bread (chef Franz Schinagl explained to me that they use a different variety of pumpkin seeds in their bread that makes it unique and hearty). Finally, a little palate cleanser served up by Sorbitium, a campari sorbet with proseco – a kind of proseco float, if you will (their food van design wins the cute award from me).
Again, please forgive my terrible lack of photographs of the night. I was busy being filmed myself and had little time for snapping away, but stay tuned and you will see the event in all its glory in moving pictures. Congratulations to Petra for a terrific launch to her new Kerb project and stay tuned to find out what she’s got up her sleeve next! In the meantime, you can catch many of these food trucks serving lunch on King’s Boulevard just north of Kings Cross station, Monday through Friday from 11am-2:30pm.