Wow. That was a long gap between blog posts. And meanwhile, so many things have been happening - not all of them to do with choc.
I handed Choc Star over to Shrimp & Ben for the summer who took it all over the place, serving up the brown stuff at festivals, parties, markets and film sets. Then they handed the van back and I welcomed him with open arms. It was strange not being at the helm this summer, but more than that it was strange not having all of those chance encounters at the counter. This is the magic of the choc-mobile and which has kept me hooked all these years - it's the opportunity to act as a window into so many different worlds, and to meet all those new smiling, choc-loving people.
There I was this summer, putting a load of extra time into the growth of eat.st, and that meant a whole lot more computer time than I'm used to. The abstract world...electronic communication, copying people in. As soon as I got back in the van it was like a surge of relief as I returned to the primal pleasures of serving someone what they've asked for, receiving the cash, having a chat and then waving them on their way. So simple yet so good.
Now, as I juggle my Masters with running eat.st, Choc Star has taken on more of a hobby-like role. I take Jimmy out about once or twice a week - either a private booking or an event or King's Cross - and after all that abstraction it's like being on holiday when in Jimmy. Something so calming about the mechanics of operating that van. Physical processes, immediate transactions, lots of treats, out in the open air slinging away with the best of them.
But now, each time I steer that old rascal around town, I'm drinking it in, knowing that our time is fading. Yes friends, Jimmy is about to be put out to pasture. Or, put another way, the new Low Emission Zone looms on 3rd January and he ain't going to pass it. So off he'll go to the countryside, never to be seen within the M25 again...except as signage:
So all of you who have enjoyed your time at the van these past six years, come and find us before Choc Star in this particular guise is no more. We'll be at the Chocolate Festival 9-11 December, King's Cross 25th November and 16th December and the Real Food Market 17th-18th December (see links to the right of this page).
Then off he'll go, to pastures new and I shall knuckle down to completing my Masters and ploughing forward with driving British street food forward.
Play in Choc Star will be suspended until further notice.
But I'll be putting Jimmy - the van - up for sale. Get in touch if you'd like to start your very own food biz on wheels and you think Jimmy could be the one for you. He's a great motor, can travel the length and breadth of this nation and is ready for the next chapter of his rich and interesting life.
The end of my adventure in this van, could be the beginning of yours...what a brilliant time I've had being on the road in the choc-mobile.
Monday, 21 November 2011
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Whilst at Richard Johnson's book launch for his new book, Street Food Revolution last week, I was interviewed (along with Angus and Kitty) by Radio 4. They wanted to know why I thought this shift in mobile outdoor eating was taking place. I waxed long and lyrical on the subject (as it is pretty close to my heart) and a little tiny bit was used.
Good for the Beeb getting to grips with the movement.
Here it is. (Skip to around 40 mins in for a listen).
Thursday, 2 June 2011
So the day has finally arrived. After many amazing sounding applicants for job of Choc Star manager, I came upon this pair. Presenting: Shrimp & Ben!
Both were wilting in their office jobs and longing to get to grips with the Choc Star world. It's really physical, LONG hours, no weekends off, I kept telling them. We're so ready, they said. We want to get stuck in!
Until I starting putting the word out there for a replacement so I could get on and pursue other things, there was one thing about doing Choc Star that had never occurred to me. Yes, it's knackering, yes, you've got to be really on it to do it and yes, you are working while most other people are playing. But there is one thing that has never happened to me once in the van - and that is grappling with the desire for the clock to hurry up until home time. It just isn't like that. The rhythm is different all the time, the punters are often different and the day passes in a blur of nice chats, chocolate offerings, neon lights and music.
I'll miss this. But I'm truly excited that while I am ready to move on, two others are ready to step in. Shrimp and Ben are a delight already - do stop by and say hello if you're near.
Jimmy will be on the Southbank as part of the street food section of the Real Food Market by the Royal Festival Hall, Fridays-Sundays most weekends (but check the blog for more specific details).
Hope to see some of you there at some point - we're under the new industrial commemorative staircase, down form the Hayward Gallery.
For now, here are a few snaps of what we've been up to lately (apologies for the yawning gap between posts - life has been mental).
Book launch of Richard Johnson's Street Food Revolution - this old boy was a devil for the choc!
Cast and crew for Ridley Scott's prequel to Alien. Charlize Theron wanted to give them all a treat so we hot-footed it over to Pinewood. (Sadly no pics of CT scooping in the van).
A wedding in Somerset - this guest loved Jimmy so much he was behind that counter faster than all hell. I hit the dance floor while I had the chance....
Some of my Friday regulars on the Southbank. These two are hilarious and demons for the shakes.
Under the new stairs for the Festival of Britain celebrations. It's becoming a real chow and hang zone...
Another wedding down in the countryside. We take in large lungfuls of sweet, balmy air while we can - suck it up and save it for London.
Two of our most regular customers - Anne and Manny. She likes cupcakes, he likes death metal. Always a pleasure to see.
By the bandstand for the Royal Street Food Festival that eat.st showed out for. Great group of traders, we had a ball.
Another choc fiend...
And here is Jimmy nuzzling up to The Rye as part of the #16days event that eat.st and The Meatwagon put on. Peckham, we love you!
More soon. Enjoy the sun y'all!
Friday, 18 March 2011
Hey all - know a great person to fill my boots?
FULL-TIME SUPER-STAR MANAGER NEEDED FOR THE CHOC STAR VAN
Switch things up this summer and see what life is like at the wheel of a choc-mobile!
April/May – September (and beyond if the right person found)
Must be 25 or over (for insurance purposes)
Good salary – to discuss at interview.
Choc Star, Britain’s one and only chocolate van, needs a new shaker, baker and foot behind the pedal.
I have been running the business for the last five years and it’s been one hell of a ride.
In this time I have driven ‘Jimmy’ all over Britain, taking him to festivals, weddings, parties, fetes, markets, film sets, TV studios….all in the name of spreading the good word of CHOCOLATE.
The delightful combination of chocolate + travels has won us fans far and wide – from the national media (C4, Vogue, The Times, Telegraph, Guardian, TimeOut, Delicious, Olive, House & Garden), to random passers-by. People from all walks of life come up to the counter and we make it our business to send them on their way with delicious treats and a smile on their face.
As I continue studying for my Masters and pursuing the wider British street food cause I now need a fantastic person to hand the reins over to.
COULD THIS BE THE CHANGE YOU’RE LOOKING FOR??
JOB ROLE INCLUDES:
Lots of travel * Lots of driving * Preparation of van treats – from milkshakes to sundaes to hot chocolates to truffles * Lots of ice cream scooping * Being GREAT with people (Customers and events organisers especially) * Baking (and/or organising of baking) * Event negotiations * Staffing jobs * Stock ordering/taking * Tweeting * Working at weekends *…and being an all-round ambassador for Choc Star which believes in:
The job starts in April/May 2011 and runs until the end of September 2011. Ideally I would like to take someone on who is interested in the more long-term prospects of running a mobile chocolate business.
The world of Choc Star is a whole new way of life to the 9-5 and I cannot emphasise enough the need for LOVE OF TRAVEL AND MEETING NEW PEOPLE.
Does this sound like your kind of thing?
Or do you know someone who should hear about this?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Please email Petra: email@example.com for further details.
Thursday, 17 February 2011
The snow took the first bites then the Masters gobbled up the rest. Time has not been a friend of mine of late.
Please rest assured that plans for Jimmy's winter coat shedding are under way. We have a few outings planned over the next month or so - but our next official public engagement will be on April Fool's day (for reals). From there on in it'll be high-hitting choc van action right the way through to September - including a weekly spot at the Southbank from May.
In the meantime, if yearning, you can enjoy our brownies and truffles at Wild Caper in Brixton Market and our brownie fudge sundaes at Yianni's chop-up dive bar the Meateasy in New Cross Gate (open until April).
If that still doesn't cut the mustard then get in touch!