Peru Sabor was founded in 2013 by Harry Goicochea Perez, a trained chef with a passion for Peruvian street food. Later this month, the team will be heading to Reading for the South Heats of the British Street Food Awards, bringing the most colourful dishes of Peru to the judges for a chance to go through to the finals of the competition in late 2020.
Hi Harry, thanks for chatting to us. So, tell us about how the business got started?
I started Peru Sabor in 2013, as a part-time project while I was still a chef at the Fresh Olive Company. I’m classically trained as a chef and I’ve been a cook for over 25 years here and aboard. I loved the creative outlet that street food provided, especially being amongst exciting new markets like Urban Food Fest and Blue Collar, and being able to push the boundaries with the food I could offer.
When I started, people didn’t know Peruvian food and didn’t understand what we sold.. one customer asked for a sausage roll! I changed my set up and added more theatre – with a bigger and more open kitchen, customers could look directly in and see the flames as I cooked. Sales increased as a result and I started to build up a following in Windsor and Reading with Blue Collar – they filmed one of their events, and our stall is the one at about 20 seconds in, where you can see us cooking on open flames and serving to customers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeINB5jCqPU
Tell us more about your preparation process?
I’m still obsessed about perfecting my dishes and prep between 4 and 5 hours each day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings: cutting, marinating and vac-packing the meat and preparing the vegetables and salad ingredients, as well as making all my sauces from scratch. I don’t use any preservatives, so everything has to be freshly prepared each week. I source my chillies from Peru (Yellow Peruvian Chilly & Rocoto for the sauces; Aji Panka for the marinate base), as well as the Organic Quinoa that I use for the salad.
At around 3am every Wednesday, I travel to East London to buy my meat from Smithfield Market & get my vegetables at the Western International Market in Southall. After that, I’m straight to Reading to set up for the market. It would save time and money to shop more locally, but I genuinely believe that the quality of produce makes the additional hours worthwhile.
Our traditional Ox Heart Anticucho and the special & iconic dish “Lomo Saltado” is a popular traditional Peruvian dish, a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of beef steak with onions, tomatoes, fries and other ingredients; and typically served with rice. This dish originated as part of the chifa tradition, Chinese cuisine of Peru, though its popularity has made it a part of the mainstream culture and I only do this on special occasions.
You’re a finalist at the South Heats of the British Street Food Awards this month?
I’m really proud and passionate about what we do and would to love to share that with everyone. To be involved in the British Street Food Awards is really special, particularly as they’re in Reading where so much of our customer base is.
I’ve been featured on Channel 4, BBC Radio 4 and at the Pride of Reading Awards and we’ve had regulars that have come to us every week since we started. The reception we’ve received for our food has been exceptional and we’re really looking forward to the awards on the 19th and 20th September.
How can we follow your journey?