Our KERB does Alchemy street food market is incredibly popular each year, with stall holders bringing the incredible tastes and smells of South Asia to us here at Southbank Centre.
Ahead of the 2018 event we introduce you to some of the KERB does Alchemy stall-holders and find out why they set out into the world of street food, what it is about Alchemy that keeps them coming back, and even grab a special recipe or two for you to try at home.
‘I’ve always been inspired by the cooks at home. It was in my twenties that I started to experiment with food. I would taste something at a restaurant and then come home and try to replicate the flavours and then take them to another level. After eight years running the family business I decided it was time to take my love for food and turn it into a career.
‘After a couple of years gaining experience in restaurants I set up The Cheeky Indian around four years ago. Alchemy is an amazing opportunity to be with some of the finest Street Food traders around. Being a South Asian themed event it allows us to showcase our natural love for all things to do with Indian food. It’s probably the best food event in London on our calendar.’
‘Cooking is one of those life skills that comes as second nature to me, like tying my shoelaces! As a kid I’d watch my mum cook every evening. She’d come home from work and throw a couple of Pakistani stews and some rotis together like it was nothing, and I’d be getting in her way. That’s how I learnt how to cook.
‘I was out with my parents one summer’s day and my dad was reminiscing about eating Bun Kababs, a Pakistani style burger from his childhood. At the time you couldn’t get it in London, and we thought it would be fun to start a Bun Kabab food stall, trading at local markets. I thought it would be a little weekend hobby but one thing led to another, I quit my job and now, four years on, Bun Kabab has become my life.
'My parents help me a lot: my dad mentoring me with the business side of things while my mum helps finessing my recipes. True to Pakistani culture, my whole family has a played a big role, my siblings and cousins have helped me at the stall and every auntie has got an opinion!
‘Being a part of Alchemy is the best part of the year for me. There is a great sense of community where all South Asian food vendors come together to share their cuisine. I feel the borders between our countries are pretty arbitrary, we share so much from our spices to our traditions. It’s lovely how we’ve all come together in London’
‘I’ve been cooking and creating recipes since I was a child. At the age of 15, I used to manage the entire family's meals. I enjoyed cooking and found it very therapeutic. I had a lot of friends, who would compliment my food - they used to come over at random times craving it! They began suggesting that I should take my food out for others to enjoy and would mention restaurants and cafes. I have been trading for five years now. I would never have been here without my family's support.
‘The environment at Alchemy is fantastic and particularly rare. Working with KERB and other stall traders is like being in a family where they support, encourage and guide you. The people are great and everyone who comes to see us, all enjoy our food.’
'We have always had a passion for food, whether entertaining friends and family or eating out. As well as this we have always wanted to own a business and work for ourselves and so thought combining this with our passion for food made sense. So, in June 2014, we started BBQ Dreamz.
'We love visiting Alchemy every year and being surrounded by all of the wonderful flavours and smells. There is such a great atmosphere and we can’t wait to be a part of it this year.'
I’ve always been a keen cook, but it was a background working with small farmers and growers that kick-started things, and remains central to what we do, seven years after starting up. For us, Ladle & Skillet is about reconnecting people with the soil and where their food really comes from - one banging meal at a time.
‘Alchemy was the first ever event my partner Gary and I did at Southbank Centre as a food trader, and it remains a special part of our calendar for the vibrancy, colour, creativity and for just being part of something special’.
‘We’re a big family that all love to cook. My mum was a caterer for many years and taught cookery courses at the college, Anna’s family are similar, her parents used to sell bread to the local village store and for many years also owned a pub renowned for its food.
'We set up The English Indian in 2015. We’d become frustrated with the quality of Indian food available in restaurants, and a friend said ‘if you think you can do better, then why don’t you?’. This is our first ever event in London and Alchemy epitomises what we do, it couldn’t be more appropriate. We’re thrilled to have been invited.'