Street Food Festival at Cruise Terminal

The Street Food Festival at Side Street Studios last year.

For the first time since its inception, the annual Street Food Festival will be held at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal.

The festival, which takes place from Saturday September 1, will also be expanding to include 10 days of festivities, which will kick off with a launch party at House of Machines in Shortmarket Street tomorrow, Friday August 31, and will incorporate smaller pop-up events like food walks, a food movie screening at the Labia, and incorporating street food on the menus of selected eateries in the city centre for the duration of the festival.

Leigh Briel, the production manager at Studio H, which organises the festival, said it was started in 2013 as a space for street food as other markets were more trendy, and there was no space for authentic street food.

“At the market, we have a mix of South African street food and international street food, as South Africa is a melting pot of cultures. Visitors to the market can find food such as boerewors rolls, vetkoek and mince, walkie talkies (chicken feet) and koeksisters, as well as tacos and shawarmas.

She said the festival used to be at Side Street Studios in Woodstock, but grew over the years. “We’ve established a branch in Johannesburg as well, and we needed another space as the festival outgrew Side Street Studios.”

She said the Cruise Terminal was perfect because of the foot traffic already present in the area.

“It’s also close to the Silo District and the Zeitz MOCAA, which is an up-and coming district on its own. The food festival integrates well into the space – you could visit the fest then go to the museum and visit the V&A Waterfront too.”

She said V&A Waterfront was an iconic space in Cape Town, and also good in terms of targeting the international market. This year, the festival had also launched their community initiative, called SSF Loves, aimed at empowering individuals and communities through a shared love of food.

They have partnered with Food Forward SA, a non-profit organisation which which uses food that would otherwise go to waste, to feed those in need.

Ms Biel said people can donate via the virtual store on their website, which allows people to buy food, but, in fact, they are donating.

There will also be a stall at the festival where people can buy food in the form of a stuffed toy, and the money will be used as a donation. The proceeds will be used to help Food Forward SA with their cause.

Ms Biel said the charity will change annually and will be centred around food.

She said the festival had a mix of about 36 vendors – some of the more popular names, and also smaller food vendors.

Jack Hendricks, the owner of GRUB, trades at different markets such as the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, Earth Fair St Georges Mall on a weekly basis and Route 44, selling comfort food turned street food snacks.

He said last year was the first time he traded at Street Food Festival.

“My friend, Paris, who also trades at the festival raved about it and said that many of the customers are really into their food and are interested in what each vendor has to offer and the story behind the food. It sounded right up my alley, so I applied.”

Asked about the venue, Mr Hendricks said: “I think it is going to be a massive hit. It is centrally located and has a trendy, edgy, underground feel to it which differentiates it.”

He said the street food industry had definitely grown and was continuing to grow. “This can be seen in the number of markets and festivals popping up in and around Cape Town. I don’t think we have a street food culture yet, where food trucks or trailers can be parked in the CBD and vendors sell their product in this way. I think we still have a way to go before we get there and I personally hope that the industry can develop in this direction.”

Wongama Baleni is the co-founder of Department of Coffee, which specialises in artisan coffee. Mr Baleni said the best thing about street food was that vendors got to experience other vendors’ foods and also the upliftment of smaller businesses.

He said he was excited to experience trading at the Cruise Terminal as it was next to the sea.

“I think it’s going to be great,” said Mr Baleni.