We were able to get a few minutes from Simon who founded Milner’s Fish & Chips to have a talk about how it is to run your own food truck.
What is great about food truck dining?
The best thing about it in my opinion is that it means people get to try different food in places they never normally would, and in general, food truck owners are very passionate about what they do. They normally do one thing and do it well which means you get to eat very authentic food.
How did you get the idea to start a Fish & Chips food truck?
Well, as a Brit who’s been living in Stockholm for nearly 18 years, I actually wanted someone to open a genuine fish and chips restaurant or food truck as I really missed good fish and chips. But surprisingly enough nobody else did, so I thought why not?
The truck is called Milner’s Fish & Chips, who is Milner?
We get asked this quite a bit. I’m proud to say it’s actually my surname!
What was your experience before starting this food truck?
I’ve been a chef for over 30 years. I’ve had my own restaurants and cafés, worked in film catering, production kitchens and Michelin starred restaurants, so I’ve basically done the circuit. In Stockholm I’ve worked as a head chef or sous chef at Hilton Slussen, Rosendals Trädgård, Scandic Hotels and Jamie’s Italian.¨to name a few.
With the mobility of a food truck has this truck been to other cities or will it?
Up until now the furthest we’ve operated is up to about 200km away from our base. After that the logistics start to play a bigger role. But given the right circumstances and preparation, in principle distance isn’t a problem, so we don’t rule anything out!
What is the biggest different between a regular restaurant and a food truck?
From our point of view as a food truck it’s two things: the first and foremost being the logistics. It’s like preparing for service in a restaurant, and then having to pick everything up (including food, water, drinks, plates, cutlery, kitchen utensils and so on) and move it all somewhere else for service. Then the reverse when you’ve finished. After service we have two kitchens to clean, our prep kitchen and the kitchen on the truck. The second noticeable difference is that you typically have a more limited menu. We concentrate on trying to excel at just one or two particular items. In our experience the hours can be a lot longer too, during our busy periods 16 hour days are usually the rule rather than the exception. On a more positive note, having direct contact with the customers is much more fulfilling than the limited contact you tend to have working at a restaurant. Being present whilst people eat your food in front of you and then seeing their reactions really gives me a boost. Also, being able to serve with a different view out of the kitchen every day is something you can’t do in a restaurant!
What sparked your interest for food?
I started cooking when I was quite young, I loved the creativity of it. As a teenager I used to make the family dinners. I tried a few different jobs before I started in a restaurant kitchen aged 19 and it just carried on from there. For me it’s about the quality and the creativity, that’s what drives me. People enjoying my food.
Where is your faivorite place to stand with the food truck?
Anywhere where there’s water ands boats nearby. A harbour town by a lake or the sea. People just seem to enjoy fish and chips by the waterside. It’s a natural combination in my opinion.
What advice would you give someone who wants in in the food truck industry?
Ideally you should be resilient, outgoing and flexible. Get to know your market before you start if you can – unfortunately, just because you think something is a great idea doesn’t mean people will actually part with their money for it. Try to go and work on a food truck for a while if possible. Even if you’re an experienced chef you’ll learn a lot about what the running a food truck entails if you can experience it first hand. Cooking and serving is only about 40% of what we do and burnout is quite a common problem amongst food truck owners.
If you could travel anywhere with your food truck where would that be?
Australia! Apparently they love fish and chips down there. If I could, I’d take the truck there tomorrow.
Where can the readers expect to visit this food truck in near future?
We’re based in Stockholm, Sweden, so that is of course where you’ll find us the majority of the time, sometimes further afield in Sweden at festivals during the summer. If you’re in Stockholm, you can always follow us on FB or IG @milnerssthlm where we post our whereabouts every time we go out. As well as the the Fish & Chips food truck Milner´s also offer British themed catering for events and parties. Just head on over to www.milners.se for info.
What is the best selling item on your menu and why do you think this is?
Well we only have two items although we’re considering introducing a third. We sell fish and chips mostly. It’s about getting back to the original food truck ethos. We try to do one thing and do it well. We are proud to say we just took home two first prizes at the Scandinavian Food Truck Championships, “Nordic Mästare i Food Truck” in the “Best Fish and Seafood Dish” and “Best Creative Dish” categories. So hopefully we’re doing something right!
It was great talking to you and I wish you the best of luck with your truck and your adventures from here.