The Sheffield school helping city cooks to launch their own food business

Union Street co-working space: Matt Hill working in the cafe
Union Street co-working space: Matt Hill working in the cafe

From pie to pakoras and smashed avocado on toast to stir fry, we all love a good plate of food and many of us fancy ourselves as would be chefs.

For those who want to make their dream a reality, there's the School For Pop-Ups, a charitable company formed to support people looking to create new street food start-ups in Sheffield.

Food review at Pie-Eyed pop up cafe at Co-Working on Union Street. Pictured is Jack Norman from Pie-Eyed.

Food review at Pie-Eyed pop up cafe at Co-Working on Union Street. Pictured is Jack Norman from Pie-Eyed.

The organisation offers passionate foodies the support and guidance they need to realise their potential and run their own street food stall based on Union Street.

The idea is growing in popularity, with a new African pop-up opening tomorrow, and a new Syrian pop-up supported by The Refugee Council expected to start soon 

Project Manager Matt Hill said: “The industry estimated to be growing by 20 per cent each year, in part due to the increase in street markets, food halls, local festivals and 'foodie' culture.

“Developing a street food business can be done with a more modest outlay than a permanent cafe.

The Cutlery Works in Sheffield. The former cutlery works is now a indoor food market with multiple restaurants and bars. Shed Plant Pushers. Pictured is Kelly Slade. Picture: Chris Etchells

The Cutlery Works in Sheffield. The former cutlery works is now a indoor food market with multiple restaurants and bars. Shed Plant Pushers. Pictured is Kelly Slade. Picture: Chris Etchells

“The pop-up opportunity is important to traders because it represents a chance to realise their food business dreams who would not otherwise afford it.

“Each day we have a queue of people waiting to try something new, and if the food is good then reputation will quickly spread by word of mouth.”

The idea – and importantly the food produced – by these street food traders is also proving popular with customers.

Four street food traders who have recently started their brand at the Union Street school have now before 'graduated' to secure daily premises in Sheffield.

They are Pie Eyed, who now based at Cutlery Works who provide quality pies made with locally sourced ingredients, TONCO who sell global cuisine and are working on planning permission for their own city centre premises, Korean soul food provider Yoki, which opened in Crookes and are just about to open their second location, and plant-based food seller Shed, who now also have a daily offering, also at The Cutlery Works.

Hoping to follow in their success are two traders who are currently selling their food at Union Street; Pinch N Pull and Taiwanese homemade food seller Shuju Kitchen.

As the popularity of the school grows so too, Matt hopes, will be the support it is able to offer its ‘pupils’.

The school have applied to The National Lottery Community Fund for just under £9,900, with the aim of providing a programme of public events and workshops supported by one-to-one mentoring by James Ellerby; consultant, trainer and senior lecturer in Hospitality at Sheffield Hallam University Business School.

Matt added that he is also pleased to be able to help a wide range of people to bring their food to the public.

He said: “I've always wanted to create a place to eat and drink with a genuinely mixed audience, and we are seeing people from a wide range of backgrounds coming forward to launch pop-ups.

“Earlier this month saw the start of a new Bengali cafe, last Saturday was a the opening of a new vegan pizza pop-up from an undergraduate at university, tomorrow is the opening of a new African pop-up, and we're looking forward to a new Syrian cafe supported by the Refugee Council.”

Daniel Pinch, chef at Pinch N Pull said: “Pinch N’ Pull mainly offers street food style toasted wraps. We try and provide big flavours using a range of spices and cooking techniques.

“One of our top selling items at Union St has to be our Mexican style diced sweet potato wrap, which uses a blend of spices, lime, roasted onions and peppers garnished with smashed avocado and a tomato and sweet chilli chutney. 

“We have also just successfully sampled an arancini of the week, which will be launching properly on the March 8.

“The School for Pop-Ups has been a massive help for us, they have basically given us a platform to showcase what we can do on a regular basis at a Sheffield city centre location, in a relaxed and friendly environment.

“Through serving food here we have also come into contact with a few people in our field which has opened up more opportunities for us regarding pop up events.”

People who are interested in joining the School for Pop-Ups and opening a street food stall, and would like to arrange a discussion, can call 0114 205 1051 or e-mail info@schoolforpopups.org.