Tell us briefly about your background, pre-Durban Street Food…
Prior to Durban Street Food, I had a job in London working for a software company and Charmaine owned a Woman in Business Networking Company and an estate agency.
The software company that I worked for was having finance difficulties and decided to lay off people and I became a casualty after 11 years of service.
Looking for another job when you have attained a certain age becomes very difficult, so I needed to find something to earn a living.
The estate agency business is a lot of hard work, especially the property management side of it, and after nine years Charmaine decided it was time for a change.
And that change led to launching a street food business?
Both of us had always done a lot of cooking and entertaining for friends and family over the years and so decided to start a street food business featuring South African cuisine.
There are a lot of lovely South African dishes that we wanted to share and introduce people to in the UK - and we also knew there were a lot of South Africans that had moved to the UK and often craved a little taste of their homeland.
Our street food and pop-up restaurants became popular and led us to thinking that we could provide the same food in a frozen ready meal format, so we could make it available to more people countrywide instead of just the local street food markets.
And so, Durban Street Food was born in 2018.
So, how did you come to run your fish and chip shop with a South African twist?
Things had all been going well but when the pandemic hit, we had to completely change our business model…
All the South African shops we supplied our frozen ready meals to closed due to Covid in 2020, and we had to come up with Plan B to survive. The wholesale aspect had been our core business.
We got a bit creative when an opportunity came up to buy the local fish and chip shop, just a couple of doors down from our original shop.
With the fish and chip shop came a hot food takeaway licence, so we merged Durban Street Food into the fish and chip shop to create a takeaway/deli serving fish and chips and other British favourites and our delicious South African meals and treats.
We believe it’s a unique place! There is certainly no fish and chip shop quite like us.
Are your customers mainly South Africans looking for comfort food from their homeland, or people looking to explore new flavours?
We have a mixture of customers – certainly we have South Africans wanting a taste of home, but we have even more customers who are looking to explore new flavours, which is fantastic.
South African food is a melting pot of cultures and our dishes are inspired from around the world – but, whether enjoying our curries or cakes, people are often surprised by how close to home the flavours land. It’s just high quality, wholesome and delicious home cooked food.
If put on the spot, what is your absolute favourite Durban Street Food dish and why?
Chicken Cape Malay Curry. It is very tasty and different with coconut and apricots and can be enjoyed with rice or chips or in a crepe.
What are your plans for the future of Durban Street Food?
As the world recalibrates itself, we want to get back to supplying the South African shops in the UK with our ready frozen meals and desserts, but we’d also like to expand these homely and tasty meals to more shops and farm shops in London and the south east.
Tags: street food
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