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Street food trader Mobile caterer

Street food traders run their own businesses, serving customers food and drink from a stall or van.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a food hygiene qualification. Experience in catering or customer service will be useful.

There are other legal requirements and you'll need:

  • registration with your local Environmental Health Department before you start trading
  • a Street Trading Licence unless you operate only at events on private land
  • registration with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • assessments in food safety, health and safety, fire safety and control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  • food hygiene qualifications for all your staff
  • gas and electrical safety certificates
  • Public Liability insurance
  • Employers' Liability insurance if you employ staff
  • separate hand and pot washing facilities

The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) has information about setting up and offers advice about driving licences and regulations for towing catering vehicles.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • food preparation skills
  • excellent customer service skills
  • ability with numbers

3. What you'll do

You could work at a market, festival, tourist or street site.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • stocking up on food ingredients and drinks
  • driving your mobile unit to a venue and setting up
  • checking the temperature of fridges and food
  • handling raw food safely
  • preparing and cooking food to a high standard
  • serving customers and building up repeat business
  • washing up and keeping your work area clean, tidy and safe
  • keeping track of finances and marketing your business

4. Salary

Your income will vary according to your hours, location, type of food, and how good you are at selling.

You’ll need to pay pitch fees out of any earnings and these can be high at festivals or popular locations.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

As a trader you can decide which hours you work, but to stay competitive you’ll need to keep similar hours to the other food stalls around you. This usually means working long hours over weekends and public holidays.

The job is physically demanding.

You’ll need the appropriate driving licence.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move to a busier pitch.

Training could help you improve or diversify what you offer.

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Last updated: 09 October 2018