2/12/2013 05:39:00 AM

A Day in the Life of Petra Barran, Godmother of British Street Food

Petra Barran began in the mobile food business in 2005 when she hit the streets with her dedicated chocolate van. She fell in love with the road, the community and with opening the hatch to people all over London. The next natural step was to consolidate this so that more people could be a part of the kerb life. She co-founded eat.st (now Food Hawkers) in 2009 and then went solo with KERB - a street-food collective - in 2012. Petra is studying for an MSc in Urban Studies at UCL and was named as 'One of the Ten People Who Changed the World' by The Independent in 2011.


8 AM - Radio 4 wakes me up.

8:30 AM - Showered and dressed, I hit the computer to make my first stab at the ever-laden inbox. I also check in with Millie, Ian and Rob - who work with me and without whom I couldn’t operate KERB - to see who’s doing what and discuss various jobs and projects.

9:10 AM - Quick breakfast: often it’s a banana as I run out the door, but the aim is for a big bowl of banana porridge with honey.

9:20 AM - Out the door to a meeting in town. I seize every second of the journey writing e-mails, making plans, writing notes and catching up with all the different threads that need my attention.

10 AM - Meetings with new clients or existing ones. Often in a massive corporate building or else in a restaurant or out in some industrial park.

11:30 AM - I swing by my university (UCL) for a quick session in the library. I am due to write my master's dissertation this year and so far am struggling to imagine how this will get done. I figure that proximity to the pillar of learning will improve my chances.

1:30 PM - I check in at our new street-food market in the City, beneath the Gherkin. Have there been any disasters? Are the landlords happy? Are the traders happy? Are there any spillages, or are queues too long or not long enough? I’ll eat here - usually twice as the traders are always very generous and want to show me new dishes (and I’m quite greedy). I meet someone on-site - a journalist or new trader or new business proposition. We talk with food in our hands and on our chins.

2:30 PM - Off I go to a trader consultation. I meet with each of the traders every few months. We have almost 50 members, so this is an ongoing thing. It’s important to have a proper sit-down and see where everyone is at, how I can help, how KERB can improve and how each trader could possibly improve.

3:30 PM - More e-mails and calls. If I'm near the Members Area of the Southbank Centre I use it as a makeshift office as I find I get a lot of work done there with that great view of the river for perspective.

7 PM - Finish up with stuff and then head over to The Corinthia Spa - my cold-weather sanctuary. I’ll do a load of lengths in the pool and clear my mind, reflecting on all that’s going on.

9 PM - I jump on the bus home, e-mailing all the way.

9:30 PM - Back at the ranch I’ll catch up with my flatmate, maybe grab something to eat and then hit that computer again.

10 PM - My mind comes alive, and I am able to get so much done without being interrupted by the phone. I make spreadsheets (exciting) and throw ideas down to the others. I plan where we’re going with our next new market or how we’re going to approach KERB King’s Cross for 2013. I scan our website and see that all is as it should be and maybe e-mail our designer with some new ideas.

1 AM - Clamber into bed. Try and read a few pages of one of the several books by my bed. I'm asleep by about 1:30 AM, very soundly.

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