Last night saw the arrival of indie streetfood collective KERB in Camden Market’s waterside West Yard.
An impressive 35 stalls now offer a diverse range of international grub from the likes of Kimchinary, Mother Clucker, Luardos, Roti House, Toastits, Fundi Pizza, Ghetto Grillz and Makatcha (whose beef rendang is delicious).
And, as we announced a few weeks ago, as well as dishing up lunch every day to workers and tourists, the stalls will all be open on Friday and Saturday evenings until 10pm, with a bar and live music to boot.
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5 Mins With: Petra Barran, founder, KERB
What do you do?
I’m the founder and creative director of Kerb, and make sure its look, feel, tone and culture is maintained. It also involves eating a lot.
What’s your background?
I’m a one-time roamer who ran away to sea after university, only to return four years later with one big thought in my head: get into the food business. From there I started my own thing, a chocolate van – Choc Star, Britain’s first mobile chocolate bar – and drove it round the UK, looking for adventure. This got me into a really brilliant community of other food itinerants and opened up my mind to the effects of food, people and cities. Combining community with urbanism is the driver behind Kerb, which launched in 2012.
Why street food?
It’s a great leveller and I’m all about that. Put it on the streets and it’s open to anyone. It’s the intimacy of it being made for you, in front of your eyes – and of all the other people – strangers in the big bad city – complicit in wanting the same thing. That’s healthy.
Everyone knows Camden Market and everyone has a story about it – be it from 5 years ago or 20. It’s a magnet for living, for expressing yourself, for having a go. I love that punk ethos that still bubbles up from its well-worn cobbles. We always look for iconic spots to trade and Camden is surely that.
What do you enjoy most about Camden Market?
The energy. The spirit. The unscripted ways that everyone rumbles along together and works it out amongst themselves.
The craziest thing you’ve seen here?
Quite a lot of daytime nudity that no one bats an eyelid at.
Tell us a secret…
The tales I could tell you about the street food industry could make a page-turner of Jackie Collins proportions.
The first thing you notice is that the cobbled space has been re-designed to enhance the canal backdrop, with counters, tables and chairs now overlooking the water and narrow boats. The stalls are also spaced out a bit more evenly, making it easier to see what’s on offer.
A cute Camden Town Brewery makeshift bar serves their signature lagers, ales and IPAs, including the summery Strawberry Hell’s (which has an enjoyably subtle hint of the berry), whilst local gin-makers Half Hitch, whose distillery is on site, have their own outlet too. And you can even order a negroni, if you fancy, before dinner.
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Bit overwhelmed by the choice? Here’s what we recommend (for starters)
1. Le Patate
Stints in some of France’s best Michelin star restaurants mean this longstanding Camden Lock stallholder really knows how to inject the deepest flavour into what he calls a ‘beef bourguignon burger’. It’s melt-in-the-mouth, cooked with a rich gravy, and as delicious as any medium-rare patty. Also recommended? Nearby Burger And Beyond, who run the farm that supplies their meat.
Founded by one half of street food stars Bill or Beak (we raved about them here), Ink is the place for all things squid: served salt and Szechuan crispy style, it’s pimped up by three types of mayo: wild garlic, smoked chili or miso. Light and moreish: share it as a starter.
These Kent-based crustacean lovers were voted winners of the London heat in the British Street Food Awards 2014. They prepare soft-shell crab burgers, lobster rolls, chips topped with tasty white crab – and, best of all, a delectable caramelized scallop dish with pomegranates, sweetcorn and parsley.
The market operates every day, 364 days a year, until 6pm Mon-Thurs, 10pm Fri/Sat and 7pm Sun. Dishes vary in price but hover around the £5-8 mark. For more info head to Camden Market, follow KERB on Twitter @kerb_ or check out the full list of vendors here