When you think the London food scene can’t get any more diverse, another entrepreneur, or rather, ‘foodpreneur’ pops up with a refreshing new take on our dining out culture.
One such foodie is Fabian Clark of CLAW Food who recently won an accolade at the Virgin Startup Foodpreneur Festival for his seafood pop-up. Back for a second year, the event saw a board of food giants (including Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley and of course Sir Richard Branson) present small business owners with a number of accolades. Fabian picked up the best Street Food Business alongside Humpit Hummus and won a week-long pop up at Old Street Underground Station via Appear Here.
CLAW Food first turned heads – and tastebuds – for its infamous CLAW Burger. It’s one of the only British seafood pop-ups that focuses on crab and other sustainable British sea food. And if you ask me, it definitely deserves recognition for its value on the London foodscape.
Here, Fabian tells us about how he created his foodie start-up and what it takes to conquer the London Street Food Scene.
Hi Fabian! How did it feel to win the Foodpreneur festival?
It was amazing to win Foodpreneur for 2015, I feel a great sense of achievement for winning. It has already boosted my business; investors and others alike now see that CLAW is associated with the Virgin brand so it could mean great things for the future in how I grow my business.
I have always loved crab, with fond memories of visiting the Isle of Wight when I was younger and eating fresh crab sandwiches. When deciding to get into street food, I was looking for something different and I suddenly realised the crab was an incredibly undervalued market.
Was it important to you to base your ethos around sustainability?
Yes. Crab and other shellfish are some of the most sustainable species. As a country, we currently export approximately 80% of our crabs to the rest of Europe and beyond. CLAW’s primary ethos is to encourage people to understand that there is an abundance of crab on the British isles and we really need to start utilising it.
What’s your favourite thing on the menu?
Although the fresh Devonshire crab burger is an all-time favourite, I always enjoy the latest specials. We’ve also recently created an amazing Isle of Mull scallop burger with black pudding and smoked lardons which is incredible!
What do you think makes you stand out in the huge street food industry in London?
Ultimately we are the only people in the street food industry who specialise in crab and other fresh shellfish burgers. A few other traders use fish and other shellfish, but not the extent that we do at CLAW.
Do you think the street food scene is over-saturated or do you think there’s always room for more inventions?
I still think there’s room for more inventions. We’re currently sharing a prep kitchen with a street food brand called Butcher & Brine. They have an abundance of Michelin star restaurant experience and are completely changing how accessible this refined food is.
What led you to become part of the Foodpreneur Festival 2015?
I have always admired the Virgin brand and I regularly read posts from them on Twitter. I came across a post about the Virgin Foodpreneur award and I knew that I instantly needed to apply!
What do you love most about working in the street food industry?
Every day is different and you have the ability to be consistently creative.
What do you love most about living and working in London?
I have always lived in London, so for me it feels like home. London is my favourite city in the world, to this day I still get amazed by it.
What is the most challenging part about running your own business?
Street food is a surprisingly multifaceted business. Although it looks relatively simple, there is a lot to manage on a day-to-day basis. Trying to manage the brand, the financials, the marketing and most importantly the cooking, proves incredibly challenging.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a Foodpreneur?
Don’t run head first into it. Write a clear and concise business plan and speak to as many people as possible to really learn your market before you enter it.
Huge thanks to Fabian for taking part in this Q&A for Oh So London. For more information about Fabian and CLAW Food, visit Clawfood.com, find them on instagram @Clawfood and follow them on twitter @CLAWFood. The Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Festival launched in 2013 and is part of the not-for-profit company Virgin StartUp. It aims to fund, mentor and advise new businesses within their first few years of trading. For more information visit VirginStartUp.org and follow them on Facebook and twitter @VirginStartUp.