Market food used to be all about simple, rib-sticking snacks like hot dogs piled with fried onions and thick wedges of cheese on toast. The height of sophistication was asking for a serviette with your bacon butty. But times have changed. Avocado is now our national fruit of choice; you can get liquorice in your gin and the pop-up street market is the place to find exciting young chefs producing daring, cutting-edge food.
I’m ashamed to say – even though it was launched in May 2017 – I am a late-comer to Derby’s own Bustler Market; a monthly gathering of some of the best street food vendors in the country.
Formed by four friends – Liv Pritchard of Hide Burger Bar, Stuart Costen, founder of Love Derby website, Ben Edmonds of Blok Knives and Tom Erskine from Marketing Derby – Bustler Market came about out of their mutual passion for the city and food.
“We came together to create something fresh and less formal than the atmosphere in many pubs and restaurants,” explains Liv. We were all fans of street food events like Peddler Market in Sheffield and the Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham and we wanted to create somewhere different for Derby people to come and eat, drink, socialise and relax.”
The friends were thrilled with how well visitors embraced the concept; “I think we knew young people would love it but it appeals to all generations,” explains Liv. “We can get upwards of 5,000 visitors through the doors over the two days.”
What adds to the excitement is the ‘pop-up’ nature of the market. It’s on for only two days (Friday and Saturday) on the last weekend of every month and there’s a rotating list of street food vendors. There’s always an air of anticipation to see which stall-holders will set up and, according to Liv, people like to ‘mix and match’ from all the different outlets.
“Our visitors often sit together to socialise and share their plates,” Liv says. “Yes, we do get people asking if they can reserve their own table but generally most are happy to muck-in and have fun. For the visitors and traders alike, we’ve become a tight-knit community united by our love of good food.”
Visitors Gemma Byrne and Chris Wilson, of Sinfin, are big fans of Bustler; “We’d been to lots of street food markets in places like Copenhagen and it was great when one opened in Derby,” says Chris.
Gemma agrees; “We’ve attended nine Bustler markets since it opened and we’ve never had a bad thing to eat. Our daughter Sienna, who is one, really enjoyed the waffles.”
‘Taste Derbyshire’ writer Amanda Volley took a stroll down to Bustler Market to sample some of the food – and drink – highlights.
There’s nothing like the aroma of sizzling hot dog sausage on a cold winter’s night to get people flocking Bisto-kid style around a stall.
But forget flabby frankfurters. Get Wurst use Bratwursts from the Munsterland region of Germany, sourced by Paul and Lindsay Melbourne of Sheffield.
“We had great holidays in Berlin and loved ‘Currywurst,” says Paul when asked what inspired him to put curry and pickles on a hot dog. “We couldn’t get anything like it at home so we launched the business three years ago.”
Paul’s assembly of the ‘currywurst’ begins with a portion of rosemary salted fries, topped with his bespoke tomato-based curry sauce. He coats the food with a dusting of curry powder and sticks a few pickled gherkins on top.
“I’ve never had anything like this before,” beams customer Will Hughes. “It’s ideal for street food. I love the curry powder – it’s like a massive sock of flavour at the end.”
Paul says these reactions make sacrificing his weekends worthwhile.
“I used to work as a charity fund-raiser. I don’t miss the office at all – except when it’s really cold.”
Find more by visiting www.getwurst.co.uk
The Italian Stallion
Converted horse boxes are firm favourites of pop-up food companies – but odds are you’ve not seen one sporting a wood-fired pizza oven.
“I love street food markets and Italian food and everyone loves pizza,” says Holly Beasley, owner of The Italian Stallion.
“I’ve travelled a lot in Italy and wanted to start a career in food. Pizza was a perfect choice. You can put anything on top of it – like wild honey with a chilli infusion.”
Small wonder people make a bee-line for her stall. “I always laugh when children run about because they’re so excited to see us,” Holly smiles. “Afterwards, people walk away with a glazed, happy expression we call the ‘pizza zombie’ look.”
Holly, who comes from Hinckley in Leicestershire, has a Monday to Thursday job in therapy but doesn’t mind working on weekends. “We go to lots of fun places, meet nice people and make pizza for them – what’s not to like?”
Contact Holly via
The Kebab Cartel
When two brothers with design back-grounds launch a street food brand – you just know it’s going to be a perfect fusion of on-trend style and yummy substance.
Matt Zalepa, of Darley Abbey, left his job in fashion because he ‘had to’ work with street food.
“My brother Jay and I asked ourselves what people like to eat – and came up with kebabs. We take our inspiration from the Middle East, Turkish and Lebanese food and they’re seriously addictive,” he laughs.
Jay agrees; “Events like this make quality food accessible to all. We also love working in a busy, party atmosphere.”
The brothers – self-styled kebab ‘gangstas’ – may have fashioned a brand which is cooler than a hipster’s beard but they become dewy-eyed when they talk about their food; especially their pillow-soft lamb and pomegranate molasses and tahini yoghurt.
“And don’t forget to mention the Kurdish flatbreads,” adds Matt.
Customer Martin Broadhurst, of Derby, was raving about the succulent lamb and the ‘duvet thick’ bread of his shawarma. “It was delightful down to the final mouthful,” says Martin, the man behind kebab blog ‘The Spinning Lamb’.
To find out more visit www.kebabcartel.co.uk
Pete Hewitt might be a relatively new kid on the pop-up scene, but he’s already been a finalist in a national street food competition and had his Asian-inspired food featured in a cookbook.
“Two and a half years ago we were trading from a gazebo,” Pete laughs. “We’ve since up-graded to a converted 1978 Chevrolet van brought over in New Jersey.”
Pete, from Nottingham, says it was his ‘love and passion’ for Asian food which led him to take part in BBC’s MasterChef (he was a finalist in 2015) and leave his graphic design career to launch Homeboys and ‘Ramen Boys’ – which specialises in the spicy Japanese noodle soup.
“The street food formula just works,” he says. “People of all ages can just come down and eat all types of food. You can pick and choose, mix and match and share dishes. I think people just have an appetite for good food – I’m just pleased to be part of it.”
Pete Hewitt can be contacted via
The Gin Hare
When Evie Marsh decided to set-up a gin bar she was determined it would reflect her love of the Derbyshire countryside.
“I have my own horse on our family farm in Thurvaston,” she explains. “The idea evolved to set-up the gin bar in a horsebox to showcase around 40 hand-picked gins – some of which are made locally in places like Ashbourne and Chesterfield.”
Evie proudly displays all the work she and her family have done to up-grade the horse-box – including industrial lighting, metro tiles and Champagne corks on the walls.
“I used to work for Liv Pritchard and we both felt a gin stall would bring some variety to the market,” says Evie, who works full-time at Mertrux in Derby.
“All the other stallholders are so friendly and supportive. Everyone offers something different and – like me – they’re all so passionate about what they do.”
Contact Evie by sending a message to
“I think it’s all our pent-up frustrations and cravings coming out,” laughs Peter Hargreaves when asked why he and fellow chefs James Dicesare and Allan Blewitt decided to put wacky ingredients – like breakfast cereal – on their burgers.
The three friends hail from the West Midlands and they have all been head chefs for well-known chains.
“We were bored with the kitchen and wanted freedom,” Peter laughs while waving his spatula, Braveheart style, in the air. “We all throw in ideas – like packing a burger with Nachos or Golden Grahams. It’s all about getting people to remember us and what they had to eat.”
The boys attend events around the country and their devotion to the cause of freakishly good burgers has paid off; they recently won a national award.
“We went through to the finals of the Street Food Awards in London and we were awarded ‘Best Burger’ in 2018 for our Freaky Mac’,” beams James. “From pickled cabbage and gingersnap gravy, to caramel waffles and maple syrup – we’ll try anything to create the best burgers people have tasted.”
The Patty Freaks can be contacted on email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Bustler Market takes place on the last Friday and Saturday of every month at 7 John Street, Derby. To find out more about future events and stallholders, visit www.bustlermarket.co.uk