Minute on the clock: Jun Tanaka

19 August 2015
Minute on the clock: Jun Tanaka

Street Kitchen, the Airstream trailer-based street food partnership between former Pearl chef Jun Tanaka and Food Initiative chef Mark Jankel, has just launched its first permanent site in London's Broadgate Circle. Tanaka talks to Hannah Thompson about the challenges of setting up shop

Can you summarise your ethos of Street Kitchen?

Restaurant-quality fast food built on the foundation of natural, humane, farm-sourced and seasonal produce. You can't have great food without quality produce. This is true whether it's a Michelin-starred restaurant or a street food concept. We take as much care and attention to sourcing the best produce as possible.

You recently opened a permanent site in Broadgate Circle. Why now?

What's been the most challenging thing about opening the new site?

Everything! We have had to learn about building control, planning permission, licence applications and contractors. We had a million design meetings, but we have still made a few mistakes, so we are now better prepared for site two.

Can you explain your 'sandwiches by the inch' concept?

In the City, people have very different budgets and appetites - the roasted vegetable sandwiches are great value, which allows people with lower budgets to enjoy a quality lunch. For people with bigger appetites and budgets, the longer, by-the-inch sandwiches are perfect.

Where does your inspiration for unusual fillings come from?

Before we opened the shop we went on a trip to New York for some inspiration. We have developed a mix of classics, such as rare roast beef and caramelised onions, along with more unusual options, such as roasted broccoli with smoky mustard mayo.

What marks out Street Kitchen from other street food or gourmet sandwich companies?

Street Kitchen has a radical sourcing policy. Mark has been to all the meat farms we use as it is really important they rear animals in a natural and humane way. We have a direct relationship with the farmers which, along with the restaurant expertise that goes into devising the sandwiches, hopefully gives us an edge.

How does the Food Initiative ethos - considering the environmental impact of produce - affect Street Kitchen?

Mark is pretty fanatical about suppliers, so it is critical that the Food Initiative ethos is right at the heart of any Street Kitchen venture.

What else would you like to do with Street Kitchen?

We want to expand across London, to make our food more accessible and to find sites where we could serve our new sandwiches and salads, as well as the bistro boxes we have become known for in the City.

You have quite a strong media profile. How does that fit in?

The media side is incredibly important. It will never take priority, but as long as both sides of the job complement each other, I would look to develop that side of things.

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