“The Burrito Challenge will keep you going for a week”

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Street Food Chef Co-owner discusses working alongside his wife, how the Street Food Chef started, and what it takes to run a successful business.

By: Skye Strasman

It comes as no surprise that the Street Food Chef has reached astounding success since setting up, opposite a busy Sheffield Hallam University building.

Try Sheffield caught up with co-owner Richard Golland who takes us through the business’ past, present and future.

In his first experience in catering, Richard ran Oxford’s first ever vegetarian café. He says that at the time he didn’t have a clue of what he was doing. And as a result he decided to open the café on a saturday, the busiest day of the week. Richard said jokingly: “We hadn’t even worked out how to get the orders from the bar to the kitchen, that’s how rubbish we were.”

Since then, he has learned a lot.

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Later on Richard and his wife Abi Golland began the Street Food Chef four years ago, in a small trailer which traveled around England, catering to the continental market.  Finally, they ended up in Sheffield, and opened up a burrito bar on Pinestone Street in the city center, in feburary 2011. Last year they also opened up the restaurant called the Street Food Chef – Mexican Canteen on Arundel Street. The street just opposite Cantor Building in Hallam University’s city campus.

Richard described the location as a lucky coincidence: “we didn’t realise how perfect it was. We didn’t actually realized the university was just opposite. When we saw it we were like, how lucky are we?”

The food on offer at the Mexican Canteen includes burritos, ranging from 4-7 pounds, depending on size and filling. The meat includes pulled pork, chicken and beef. Tacos typically cost between 3-5 pounds, they include the same meat selection. The full menu can be found on their website. Beers can also be served in the restaurant on Arundel Street.

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Last year, the Street Food Chef’s menu earned them a place in the good food magazine. They have also won an Eat Sheffield award two years in a row. Richard said: “it’s absolutely brilliant. “The Eat Sheffield award was one of the first awards we ever won.”

To get this far, it has certainly been challenging for the couple to run the business. Richard explained that it took dogged determination, and serious persistence to get to where they are today.

“ You’ve got to be superhuman at times. You’re running a business.”

From starting the business, the couple set themselves a five year goal, to which they are in the third year of that plan. By next year they intend to set up another restaurant in the soon to open new market at the bottom of the Moor.

Running a business with your spouse can also prove challenging, Richard said that it is important to know when to switch between when you’re in business mode, and when you’re not: “And it’s really very difficult to do that.”

“A lot of times, we want to kill each other, and a lot of times we don’t”

The Street Food Chef also runs a variety of events. They have joined with several local businesses including the Leadmill, where they serve tacos at comedy nights hosted by the Leadmill. They have also served food at Sheffield festivals, including Tramlines and Peace in the Park.

One of the events hosted by the Street Food Chef, Mexican Canteen also includes a Burrito Challenge. Originally, challengers in the Mexican Canteen would have to eat four burritos in 60 minutes. Completing the challenge, means getting your picture taken and posted on the restaurants Wall of Fame. However those who fail the challenge will be put on the wall of shame.

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Richard said challengers start off extremely confident but eventually hit a wall: “But they love it, they want to do it. Sometimes we get six or seven lads in here who start the evening off with a large burrito, and that’s a perfect way to start.”

However the owners soon realized that, four burritos was a formidable challenge, too formidable.

“Everyone who was eating, or finishing the burrito would then go outside and be sick; and I had to go out there with a mop and bucket and clean it all up.”

Because the challenge left competitors throwing up in the street, the Mexican Canteen decided to reduce the size of the challenge from four burritos to a 3.5lb burritos. Richard jokingly said: “When I take my kids to school we pass a road which is usually littered with dog poo, and my kids would call it “Dog Poo Alley”. I didn’t want this street to become known as “Sick Alley”.

It was a challenge two Try Sheffield reporters had to face. When we saw the burrito, both of us were very confident, like Richard said. However three quarters in, we hit the wall and earned ourselves a place on the Wall of Shame.

Finally Richard said: “You can get a meal in here for under a fiver, and that meal will last you all day. It’s healthy, its got all the carbs in, all the protein that you need and everything that a student will needs.”

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