Q&A: Petra Barran

The food entrepreneur and founder of street food event KERB, talks bikes, reggae and snout tacos.

Petra at KERB's Kings Cross location in London

Petra at KERB’s Kings Cross location in London

When are you happiest? Either in a house full of friends, having a good time, or out in the world going into unchartered territory. I love being a stranger in a foreign place – jumping on a bus and not knowing where it’s going to take me; getting behind the wheel of a car and driving all night – or hitting the streets on foot to explore a whole new city. That really flicks my switches.

Describe your typical day There isn’t really one – I’ll bike over the river and either hole-up in the office all day and knuckle down to some hardcore work, or jump from meeting to meeting where I evangelise about KERB and where it could go – to anyone from big corporate building managers to councillors to car park owners. I’ll often be at one of our markets, meeting people or checking in on the traders or just eating. There are always lots of emails, lots of phone calls and a hell of a lot of conundrums – that’s what I love about it: constant challenges. Sometimes I’m in the office until 11pm, other times I trip off at 6pm and go and find some fun. I love night cycling at the moment – it really clears out my day

What is the best part of your job? Being in the ‘dream business’ – being part of that magical time in a new entrepreneur’s life where they are about to take the plunge and get involved with the kerb life. So exciting – our workshops are a throbbing mass of this and it’s really great to see the more established traders passing on their wisdom to the new. It feels really cyclical and the crux of what this whole KERB thing is all about

And the worst? The frustration that London sits on the brink of a true revolution in its outdoor eating culture – one which offers so many attendant opportunities to do with jobs, careers, DIY culture and a loosening up of public space that all can be involved in – and yet it is bottle-necking around anachronistic licensing laws that have little to do with our current social/cultural/economic climate. Britain is changing but the government aren’t keeping up

Tell us one thing you can’t live without  Reggae

KERB - Making cities taste betterCan street food become a norm for the UK? Only if the ground-swell of talent and deliciousness rising up from the kerb can be taken properly on board by the government. It would require a far more progressive approach than currently exists and an understanding that itinerant entrepreneurs have a space and a function in the system too

Which street food is the tastiest, but the trickiest to eat? Tastiest = my new food crush, Miss P’s BBQ and their ‘bad boy ribs’, trickiest = the snout tacos I had in L.A – there was a lot of cartilage and tendrils that didn’t divide easily

Who is your hero? Jay Z

You’re holding a fantasy dinner party – who’s coming? Jay Z, Tilda Swinton, Will Smith, Frank-n-Furter, dream hampton, David Chang, Dorothy Parker, Maya Angelou and Fats Domino so he can entertain us on the piano

Complete the sentence: “The meaning of food is…” …to eat it, enjoy it and get on with it

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