On a night out in Brighton, I recently stopped to get food at a hut under the station that sold burgers. Whilst waiting for my burger, (vegetarian – plenty of veggie options available) I noticed a few familiar friends on the shelves and quickly realised that this wasn’t an ordinary late night burger bar – the Biona ketchup and the bags of Cavolo Nero gave away the fact that this place belonged to someone who wasn’t just buying in cheap – this was an ORGANIC fast food place! So a few days later I went back and spoke to Paul Clark, the owner of Trollburger in Brighton.
Paul is passionate about good, ethically grown food. All of his ingredients are organic or are locally grown and all of his produce is purchased from independent growers. He started out as street food stand in April 2012, serving burgers from a trailer in a car park as The Troll’s Pantry, before taking to a pub kitchen. In October 2016 he went back to his roots and created Trollburger. He says ‘I’m now done with pubs and feel the street is where I should have been all along.’ Part of the reason for this is that there is opportunity to engage with his customers which is an important part of what he does. He feels (rightly) that there is a real problem with organic and ethical food – in that it is often seen as pretentious, and reserved for fine dining in expensive places. A lot of people feel that eating responsibly is something that is not available to them, whether it’s unaffordable or just out of reach through location.
One of Paul’s reasonings about burgers is that they cross class boundaries – everybody loves a burger! This takes any pretentiousness away, as they are being cooked and eaten in such a relaxed and fun environment that it’s impossible to argue that this organic and ethically sourced food is not for everybody. Being face to face with his customers also allows Paul to talk to them about his passion for food (which is infectious) and to encourage people to do their bit for the ethical food movement. As he said to me, he ‘feels part of a movement that’s swept across Brighton’, and it’s really good to see street food take such a strong stance on sustainable food, championing local produce, animal welfare and zero food waste.