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Sustain Case Study: Gusaca

Guasa London

Background:

Born in 2013 at the capital’s Deptford Market, Guasa was the brainchild of young entrepreneur, David Gutierrez, who’s dream was to bring the colourful flavours of his home country of Venezuela to the palates of metropolitan Londoners.

The economics graduate from Caracas combined his love of food with his degree, carefully calculating how he could successfully bring his native food to the streets of the UK with little to no experience. After teaching himself how to make the perfect arepa – a traditional South American cornbread usually stuffed with beef, pork or eggs; David jumped straight from the frying pan into the fire by setting up his very own catering business.

Now in the seventh year of trading, David and his team have pitched up across the city and are currently trading at Tooting Market and Mercato Metropolitano. They’ve also created quite the buzz at musical festivals including Isle of Wight, Festival No.6, Wilderness, Camp Bestival, Lovebox and Citadel amongst street food lovers; many of whom had never heard of an arepa pre-Guasa.

After securing international media coverage for his work and the praise of tourists the world over, David has proved that a good head for business combined with hard work and passion are the key ingredients for success.

Challenge:

Venezuelan cuisine has never been common on the UK food scene, bar a handful of restaurants in the capital. David’s dream was to bring the food of his home country to the street food markets of Britain and demonstrate to foodies just how delicious and easy Venezuelan food is to make. He admits that appealing to new customers is a key challenge. When they pitch up at festivals for example, some people just stick to what they know such as burgers and pizza and they don’t want to try anything new. But on the other hand, the Guasa team also have people who have eaten with the, from the Friday through to the Sunday because they enjoy trying new cuisines and love what they sample in their food.

Results:

Full of Chaat is going to continue to do weekly deliveries to customers homes across the region as they’ve realised that it’s a great way to earn extra money during the slower, winter months. Thanks to a push on their social media channels and word of mouth recommendations, around 60% of enquiries each week are from new customers.

As of June 2020, Sarah and the Full of Chaat team have been a regular line-up once again at Digbeth Dining Club’s new Click & Collect service, which runs from Thursday to Sunday at a safe site, allowing customers to place an order online beforehand and pick up their order at a designated time slot. Their experience of making meals for NHS workers made them the perfect candidate, as organisers were satisfied that they were following current Covid-19 food hygiene safety guidelines to the book.

Sarah is also hoping to continue work for Meals for the NHS. She is having regular Zoom meetings with the NHS team to establish more ways in which to raise vital funds for the service and continue to deliver hot meals to vulnerable members of society once Covid-19 is over. Sarah has been contacted by a few charities during lockdown asking if they can deliver, but right now the priority is on operating their home delivery service and providing meals for frontline workers in the NHS.

Key Learnings (Healthy food innovative approaches in food service)

  • Healthy, nutritious menu suitable for tired hospital staff
  • Ensuring that key workers are getting one nourishing hot meal a day
  • Ability to go from street food to delivering to the community
  • Healthy eating messaging – NHS wanted Chaat because their meals are healthy & comforting
  • NCASS supported the transition from street food to delivery by providing work opportunities with the NHS and advising on Covid-19 hygiene controls and risk assessments

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