How did you come up with the idea for StreetCube concept?
PG: It has always struck me that the English attitude towards food is, overall, quite chaste. There has always been this sense that high-quality, freshly-sourced food is quite expensive in the UK, and reserved for the wealthy. And it’s true, good food can be very expensive. Particularly on the high street where there’s a divide between fast food and healthier alternatives. But I’ve always wanted to make better food that’s available at a more affordable price. I’d been following the growth of the street food scene for some time, and seen it evolve into the fastest selling hot food sector in the UK. So I developed a similar concept that would serve fresh food that tastes delicious, but where the onus was also on trying to tackle a number of issues that were close to my heart.
PG: Chiefly the environment, public health, and the accessibility to high-quality, sustainable foods; it’s about finding a solution that can tackle those problems quickly and cost-effectively. Eating a more sustainable diet can have a huge impact, both on our own future and that of our planet. StreetCube is only two little street kitchens at the moment, but the ethos is rooted in addressing climate change and trying to engage more people with a more sustainable approach to food.
PG: Our menus are going to be quite different, with a focus on making vegetables the star of the show. We want those who use the Cubes to cook predominately with organic and locally grown ingredients, and ensure that all meat is sourced from sustainable suppliers. If we focus on using more regional produce, then it contributes towards the elimination of importing foods grown thousands of miles away. And if we eat from a more seasonal supply, it allows nature to grow the food at its own pace and instil it with far more nutrients than food grown industrially and out of season.
How do you plan to ensure this philosophy is adhered to?
OB: We’re up front with the operators, as there’s no point in working with someone who doesn’t believe in our ethos. However, we are realistic that depending on what operators are producing, it’s not always easy to get the organic supply at the right price point because we want it to be affordable. In the first year they’re contractually obliged to only use 15% organic produce, rising to 30% in the second and so on.
PG: We also want to try and make sure that all food used in the StreetCubes comes from within 100 miles of where they are based.
What operators have you secured so far?
OB: We have Annabel Mourelle’s The Hungry Bedouin, which serves contemporary Moroccan cuisine, and there’s also vegan soul-food specialists the Amrutha Lounge. Both serve real, honest food and are perfect metaphors for what we are trying to achieve here.
Why did you opt to build the kitchens in shipping containers?
PG: They are a symbol of our massive import/export business around the world, and I wanted to use that. They’re also safe, secure, hygienic and weatherproof. We’ve turned them in to sustainable work stations that are fully operated by solar power.
How is StreetCube different to other shipping container concepts like Boxpark?
PG: Beyond the actual container, there’s little similarity. StreetCubes are designed from the ground up to be professional kitchens for professional chefs.
OB: If you go into Boxpark there’ll always be a few good operators, but there are also plenty of generic options where the food is delivered with no real care or passion. I have always said to Pascal that flavour must come first here, because for the majority of people sustainability is a secondary consideration. And that’s what we’re delivering, higher quality food that’s made with better ingredients and delivered by passionate people.