Petra Barran

My Life on a Plate

Fri 12 Aug

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THE QUEEN OF KERB-SIDE CUISINE TAKES US THROUGH HER LIFE, ONE MEAL (AND PICTURE) AT A TIME

Petra Barran and her chocolate van first hit the streets in 2005. A decade later, she’s owning them with three food markets across London and numerous awards tucked under her apron strings. No-one knows street food better than this woman. And now, she’s bringing all her favourite food vans to a permanent pitch in Camden Market’s West Yard.

From fish finger sandwiches and Special Brew to Beef Wellington and fine Italian wine, Petra takes us through her life in food.

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Tuscany (c. 1982)

Earliest food memory?

Stealing my brother’s rusks from the larder when I’d been told I was too old for them, age 3.​

Packed lunches or school dinners? 

​Packed lunches – often complete with earwigs from my dad’s rustic fayre from the garden.​ Me and my mates did often just head in for pudding in the school canteen though… golden cornflake jam tart with custard couldn’t be ignored.​

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10th birthday

It’s your 18th birthday – what’s on the menu? 

I had Beef Wellington for my 18th birthday and Devil’s Food Cake with white frosting​.

What was your staple university meal?

Thank God my best friend Ruth was domestic otherwise I would’ve lived off a bowl of cookie dough​ I liked whipping up and keeping in the fridge (it’s still one of my favourite things).

We ate a lot of veg soup with homemade bread, hummus, fish finger sandwiches​ and Special Brew (kind of like food).

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Clacton Pier (c. 1988)

Your favourite foodie holiday destination?

New Orleans. So much fruitiness and flavour!​

Tell us about when you were you first introduced to street food?

​Probably age 10 in Mexico. My parents took us around the country on chicken buses for a month and I’ve never forgotten that first smell of the maize in the tortillas or the sound of them being pat, pat, patted on the markets.​

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Ensenada, Mexico (1995)

What happened to Choc Star?

Jimmy wound up in Falmouth, reincarnated as another chocolate van!​

You’re on the London Food Board – if you could cook the board one meal, what would it be?

​A giant mound of mash potatoes with loads of Cumberland sausages sticking out of it, gravy, peas and ketchup. Sassicaia to drink.​

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Choc Star and fashoin designer, Barbara Hulanicki (2010)

What’s in your fridge right now?

​Leftover Som Saa, leftover OKAN, asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, loads of condiments, wine, almond milk and probably some things that should’ve been thrown out by now but I can’t quite face approaching right now…​

Your secret ingredient? 

​Fennel seeds. I love them​.

For more info and where to find KERB Camden Market, click here.