Oioi. Hello again. How’s it going? I promise this post and henceforth will be a little less taxing on the attention span/time schedule. Even if no-one ends up reading this then I am vain as hell and appreciate having a platform to ramble about my life anyhow so, here it goes for this past week…
When I first ran the idea of the business and moving to Sheffield up the proverbial flagpole my ever witty, ever informative father Steve told me of how the locals call it ‘The People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’ in reference to promoting local business. I was entertained and bemused in equal measure. However since moving here I have regularly seen this ethos displayed in day-to-day life. The vast number of independent shops and the swathes of locals that ask for “anything from Sheffield” when ordering booze at work (I currently work in a gin bar). Lest we forget the stalwart that is Henderson’s relish, a condiment akin to Worcester sauce – ask for Lea & Perrins at one’s peril.
Recently however I was reading Sheffield council’s website and stumbled across a link to Business Sheffield, a council funded initiative to help businesses in the local area. As it turns out they do all kinda stuff to help a business brother out like one-on-one sessions, workshops for start-ups, even through to investing in your idea – if they like it that is. So I called them up and organised a meeting with Rob a ‘Start-Up Business Advisor’, the ideology is real, Comrades Unite!
I met with Rob at their offices in the Town Hall and pretty much spoke at him for an hour about my idea. He was great, really great. He helped me see where I may be going awry but more importantly gave me some great advice on cracking the hugely promising student market here in Sheffield. I can’t say too much about it right now but stay tuned. Anyway I have booked to attend one of three 3-hour sessions for start-ups in a couple weeks time. Session one looks at writing a thorough business plan, market research and legal structures amongst other things. I highly recommend anyone wanting to start-up a new business here in Sheffield to get in contact with these guys, it’s a free service and could help you no-end. If you’re not here in Sheffield Rob tells me that some other councils do offer a similar service, no harm in taking a look right?
Towards the end of the meeting Rob told me about Co-Work at Union St, a ‘social-enterprise workspace to meet, work and collaborate’ in the heart of the city. Not only is this concept cool as hell but they also have a pop-up cafe on the ground-floor which alternates on different weekdays, allowing local food-traders to flog their wares. I popped down there (it was Thursday) and met Jack who runs who makes incredible pies and other baked goods for the good people of Sheffield and Leeds, check him out here – Pie-Eyed. When I first got up t’north (I’m sorry) I emailed a good number of the local food vendors in the area and Jack was one of the many that got back to me. Even though he has only been running for just over a year he offered me some great advice and face-to-face he was no different, a true gent! He helped me get my head around the street-food scene in Sheffield a little better and was pretty good help in getting my juices flowing (metaphoric and salivary). I urge you to try his pies, he is there every Thursday 18-20 Union St 12pm-4pm.
As if Jack and Rob had not been inspiration enough, whilst I was chewing the fat at Union St one of Jack’s customers overheard us talking about my idea and he asked where he could sample my Poutine. As it turns out his girlfriend is half Canadian and he lived there for three years – I like this guy already. He said that he had yet to find good Poutine in England and he seemed pretty chuffed that he might be able to get some soon, he even wrote down his email address for me. His email is now blu-tacked to my wall as motivation to get this thing up and running. I’m thinking that I may invite these bona fide Canadians around to my place for deep-fried love-in. I’m sure they can give me a good critique.
Talking of recipes I have got down my ‘Cajun Choppy ‘Slaw’ recipe, which will almost certainly make it onto my final menu. Even Jade is happy and she is usually a comment short of being downright rude so I’ll let you in on most of my method (got to keep something back to pass on to my grandkids right?):
- Thinly slice Carrots width ways whilst bringing a pan of Pickling Liquor to the boil (you can make this up really, but usually consists of vinegar, water, sugar and spices)
- Put Carrots in sealable jar and cover with Pickling Liquour, seal and keep for as long as you like (at least overnight for ‘Slaw)
- Chop half Red Cabbage & half White Cabbage, and finely slice some of the Pickled Carrot, add to mixing bowl.
- Make a Cajun Spice mix, think Onion Salt, Garlic Powder, Paprika etc etc.
- Add mix to heaps of Mayonnaise and Crème Fraîche, chuck in some chopped Coriander.
- Throw it all in the bowl with Cabbage and Carrot.
- Mix that shit up, et voila.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, for obvious reasons I can’t give you the full recipe but there’s enough there for you to tweak it as you like it. Or just ask me and I might be able to impart some of my wisdom.
Anyways, I’ve had some good meetings with Ben over the past week and we have come a good way with the branding and the whole feel of the cart. We are going to be keeping it fun but clean cut and have constructed a mood board to send across to our graphic designer whoever that may turn out to be. But I guess the most important part has to be the name but we are still yet to settle. We really want to go with Jade’s suggestion of ‘The Gravy Train Poutinerie’ but there is one of the same name in the US, and I can’t afford a fryer at this stage let alone a drawn out legal battle. Hopefully we will have it sorted the next time I talk to you. I thought this post wasn’t supposed to go on as long as the previous? I’ll stop talking now.