Spotlight on Street Food is a series of blogs dedicated to highlighting the movers and shakers in Scottish Street Food. In the first blog of the series, I speak to Fliss, the director of street food stalwarts Chompsky, to find out about life as a Street Food vendor.
GFG: Can you tell me a little about Chompsky (such as when you were established, how many staff you have, where you trade etc.)?
F: We started Chompsky 2 and a half years ago starting doing foodie pop ups with different menus in bars and kitchens across the city of Glasgow. We then went on to buy a massive and old food truck, graffittied it, and set it up travelling to festivals, street food markets and private events across the country. We also serve our Korean street food in Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street 7 days a week. We now employ three full time members of staff and two part time members.
GFG: Have you always loved food and cooking?
F: Yes. I've always cooked with my family and as a child I always said that I wanted to be a chef.After university, where I spent every spare second working in the food industry, I went straight to culinary school in London for a year to get a diploma in classical cookery. From there I have worked mostly in fine dining restaurants and also big event companies and as a private chef before starting Chompsky. Cooking for me has always been a fantastically creative part of my life and most of my enjoyment comes from travelling to taste new food and learning how to cook new things.
GFG: How did you get into the Street Food scene?
F: I was always interested in street food from around the world after travelling and also seeing it as a growing industry in other cities I always thought that that particular style of informal dining was brilliant. I did a lot of research into traditional street food when creating my own menus and it lent itself to the pop up world where we started Chompsky.
GFG: What is the hardest thing about being a Street Food vendor?
F: The volatile nature of many aspects of the industry such as weather and old van engines. No day is the same so it makes it hard to plan for difficulties and they often blindside you at the most awkward of times.
GFG: What is the best thing about being a Street Food vendor?
F: Being part of the street food community in the sense of working with the other traders who are all of a similar mindset and working as small businesses. Being able to be part of such a thriving industry in its infancy also makes for extremely interesting work.
GFG: Why do you love what you do?
F: I feel like running Chompsky allows me a lot of creative freedom to explore new cuisines and bring them to the food truck. There is no pre-requisite for what our dining experience should offer which means that the world is our oyster.
GFG: What is your favourite dish/best selling dish?
F: When we started doing Bao Buns they flew out of the truck and seemed pretty popular, now we are doing a lot of Vietnamese Banh Mi and they also have proved to be in demand. It's hard to pin down one particular dish but I'd say that out of everything we have done that the Korean Fried Chicken Bao Bun with Gochujang BBQ Sauce has been the winner.
GFG: Would you like to have a permanent abode one day?
F: – Funny you should mention that…it's very much in the pipeline.
GFG: What advice would you give someone looking to break into the Street Food scene?
F: I would wholeheartedly advocate it as a brilliant way to get into the food industry with relatively little risk in comparison to taking on a big restaurant project. I would advise to 100% focus on the food and try to offer something interesting and well thought out. It's definitely substance over style. You don't need to invest in an extremely swish truck and expensive branding to make it a success, remember the roots of street food and keep it down to earth.
GFG: Anything else you'd really like people to know about your business/Street Food/the world?
F: About our business – we are just trying to cook good and interesting food, that's all we ever set out to do. About the world – support local and small businesses; Glasgow flourishes on creativity and individuality.
You can catch Chompsky in Broadcast 7 days a week, and at various events each month. Keep an eye on their Facebook page to find out when and where to catch them next.