One six-month stint in Melbourne and many an event season later, the duo are making the move from road to restaurant and at the time of writing, are less than £1000 off hitting their £16,000 Kickstarter funding goal. As soon as the new year rolls in, the couple will take the next step in their catering journey by moving into the beautiful Old Co-Op building in Todmorden to begin their tenure as fixed site caterers! We recently caught up with the couple to discuss how far they’ve come and what’s next for Yakumama.
Hi guys, thank you for being this week’s Caterer Motivator. For those who don’t know the Yakumama story, can you tell us how the business came about?
We’ve both always shared a passion for food and so when we saw a gap in the street food scene for Latin American food (especially with Marcy being from Chile) it made sense! We started 4 years ago, working from our tiny rented flat in Manchester. The pop-up nature of the work was appealing to us as we like travelling, and we love to meet new people.
Now that you’ve been in the industry for a few years, looking back what would you say have been the biggest challenges you’ve experienced?
The thing about the industry that I’d stress is that you do need to be prepared for inconsistency; the weather won’t always be on your side and you’ll work at events which don’t work as well as others and of course, the financial implications. People kept telling us that we’d start making money in our third year, which thankfully turned out to be true! Last year was our third and we did really quite well! By then we’d learned how to pick the right events and not take on anything too risky. However, it’s not an exact science and you have to accept that there are things in the industry that are beyond your control!
You’re right – this certainly isn’t an industry to get in to if you’re looking for 9-5, but the rewards are all the greater for it; would you agree with that?
The food and the people in the industry are the absolute best. The street food community is STRONG!!! We have made some really good friends. We wouldn’t still be here if the highs didn’t outweigh the lows.
You’re currently fundraising for a fixed-site premises via Kickstarter. You’re very close to meeting your goal, what are your plans once you secure funding? Was a restaurant always the end goal?
No, it wasn’t always the dream. We started doing pop-ups at The Old Co-Op in Tod this summer and we fell in love with the area and the building and we’ve got to the point now where we’d like to dedicate as much time as possible to the food instead of the travelling and setting up/shutting down. When/if we secure the funding, the plan is to move in and begin working on the site at the end of January, with a view to opening at the end of February.
We CANNOT wait to get in there and fill the space with plants, colour, great food and of course the great people of Tod and surrounding areas. We’ve tried to make the pledges as fair and rewarding as possible. We’re also going to be working with Tod food bank on Saturday mornings so pledging for this is a great way of helping both our initiative and our local food bank if you’re unlikely to visit the restaurant to claim a reward.
What an amazing idea! I know you’re passionate about sourcing ethical and sustainable produce. How do you go about ensuring your products meet these requirements?
We use local produce as much as we can, but we do of course still use tropical products like plantain and cassava and we are conscious of the air miles. We try to keep a balance. All of our meat is outdoor reared and local. When we move into the old Co-Op in Tod permanently, we’re looking forward to working with the Incredible Farm, Organic North, Magic Rock Tap, Dama Cheese and Tod Food Bank to name but a few. Our offering then will be totally vegetarian and vegan. We’re confident this will not compromise our food and are looking forward to ensuring that our food is more sustainable and eco-friendly!
How has being a member of NCASS helped with the business?
The Due Diligence system is priceless! It makes life so much easier. NCASS are always on call if we have questions that need answering and are super friendly!
What would be your advice to someone who is going to street food events thinking “I think I’d like to get involved in this!”
Don’t assume it will be easy and be prepared to work HARD. Come up with something original and concentrate on delivering quality!