Although the street food scene has exploded in London, it has taken a little longer for Scotland to play catch-up. But with Wild Rover Food on the scene, you can be rest assured that Scotland will soon boast the same reputation. I spoke to Cat, co-founder of Wild Rover Food, who told me about her journey so far.
Can you tell me a little about Wild Rover Food?
It’s a sustainable food business specialising in healthy and tasty food options for festivals, markets, private parties, weddings and events. We travel around Scotland in our 1961 Land Rover and pop-up ex-army field kitchen, using the best in naturally grown and local produce to deliver delicious wild food catering. We really care about food provenance and contributing to a local, sustainable economy, so we work directly with the people who hunt, fish, grow and forage – as the food seasons change, so does our menu.
What moved you to set up the company?
We met three years ago and found that we shared an ambition to do something different with our lives. We both took redundancy and with Rob’s passion for growing and my interests in sustainable development, we decided to take a few months out to volunteer on organic farms. As a result Wild Rover was born.
What’s Wild Rover Food’s ethos?
Good food, sourced locally, cooked simply and enjoyed by all!
How did you become involved in the Crail Food Festival?
We met Graham (the Event Manager) last year and shared his passion for bringing people together via food. We couldn’t help but get involved.
Can you tell me more about the current street food trend? How is the scene in Scotland compared to elsewhere?
There is no doubt that trading in Scotland brings its challenges – not least the weather. Last year we were finalists in the British Street Food Awards in London and that provided a real insight into how street food can take off in a city environment. In Scotland’s cities, it is notoriously difficult to obtain a licence/pitch and with the economic downturn, it hasn’t always been easy to stand alongside a traditional burger van and persuade people to spend 50p-£1 more on a food option, even though it may be tastier and healthier. But we are making good progress and I’m always encouraged to see how many young people queue up at our field kitchen at music festivals, with an appetite for something different. There is definitely an education of food provenance and food interest happening here in Scotland.
How do you approach sustainability in your business and what advice would you give to other businesses on this front?
We really have to drill down our figures while trying to stick to our principles. This isn’t always easy, but offering a full menu range certainly helps. We try to make our food reflect a sensible approach to sustainable eating: a little less meat, a little more veg and perhaps a fish option. We don’t eat meat 7 days a week so it wouldn’t sit right to only ever offer meat options, which are more expensive for our customers and less sustainable than a varied diet.
We are aware that we drive an old vehicle that is heavy on petrol, but we try to offset this with other commitments: we recycle as much as we can, we use Vegware for all our food options, we have very few food miles and we promote all of our producers. Our wild game is inherently of the highest welfare standards – this is something that interests us in all the farms that we use.
What advice would you give someone looking to set up business in the food industry?
Be prepared for a very tough journey, but a journey that will be made less challenging and more satisfying by knowing and believing in your product, defining your brand and understanding how others perceive it, and, of course, by being brave!
Thanks to our guest blogger, Chiara, whose Wine and Olives blog is a treat to read.