Forking it out

food marketFor more than a month now, two public premises of the Aglantzia Municipality have opened their doors to a weekly food market; a pioneering concept for the capital for one, but also a maneuver on behalf of two young Cypriot students who share a passion for the culinary art.

Manifested as a food market, the idea behind Andreas Charalambous’ and Takis Pyrishis’ originally stemmed from their own experience as food lovers within the exemplary food markets of London.

Upon their return to the island, their understanding that many were making homemade foodstuffs which never made it to the mouths of the wider public, as well as their desire to satisfy their own taste buds in an experiential setting lead them to explore possibilities.

One of the options was to set up a mobile stand that would sell the traditional Taiwanese hamburger known as a Gwa Bow, a personal favourite it seems, but problems in acquiring the proper street seller license to do so from the Nicosia Municipality put a full stop to that mission.

“We got rejected immediately and we said either we go big or go home,” smiles Takis who currently studies management.

And this is how they registered the trademark “Fork Food Market”, which was accepted because, as they explained, this was something between a festival and something permanent and in this way were not considered street vendors.

“We work along the concept of street food. Street food for us is another experience. It’s cheaper, with more quality than a regular restaurant, it’s easier to eat, its handy. You talk with the guys making the food, they explain you a couple of things, it’s more relaxed, you see them cook and you see that what they do, they actually feel it, they do it because they love it,” adds Takis.

And so, since the end of June, there have been five Fork Street Markets materialised in two different public locations at the Municipality of Aglantzia who embraced their idea. Every event is unique in a sense since as the stands vary in food every time, and the most recent one also attempted to add love music to ring in the ears of food lovers.

As a standard, the market offers ten stands, “eight stands for food, and two stands for drinks; six stands of food are for savoury dishes and the two for desserts, although this changes sometimes as we may have seven for food and one for dessert,” elaborates Andreas, a actuarial science student.

Types of food then vary on every occasion, and the two insist that each stand has to be unique on the day. “You wont find two stands making burgers for example,” and in order to join the team of vendors, “people have to love what they make, you wont find Mcdonalds at our market for example,” says Takis.

Each stand is entitled to offer two to three dishes maximum. “We don’t want a stand with seven different dishes and the other with only two, each stand has to have its own character and we also demand a price range from 3 to 7 euros,” he concludes.

And while the variation of vendors is increasing, both are adamant to bring more people on board and encourage people to put their food out there. Sourcing new comers however is a serious process, both on the level of quality of food offered but also because health regulations have to be met.

“In the beginning it was only stands with foods that we prepared, and we started off like this because we wanted to promote an idea, and begin with a certain quality of foods, and by starting off with our stands we were sure that we would sustain a high standard of food and that people would get to know that this was the concept and the standard of food we are looking for,” explains Andreas.

“We try and help new comers and if we don’t like what they are making we try and it make it better, we want to encourage them to become better,” adds Takis, “If you love it you will find something you can do,” he laughs.

“But we cannot let everyone be a vendor because they need a health certificate and they have to go through a food tasting in order to keep our standards as high as possible,” verifies Takis who also elaborated on how they have overcome difficulties in attaining the proper licenses.

“We rent a kitchen where we cook, with all the licenses, people that come and sell their food are either covered by a licensed kitchen of their own or, if they come early in the morning and prepare their food on the stand, this is also okay because they fall under Forks’ license which has all the health certificates,” clarifies Takis.

Aside the food loving, and the experience of sharing this, there is another element which both Andreas and Takis seem adamant to persue; that of moving location every week and introducting the food market concept all around Nicosia.

Surprised that there is no similar trend locally, “ all we saw was people making sandwiches on the side of the road or at football pitches,” their idea began to make more sence.

“I think Cypriots were aware of the concept of markets but they were more used to Municipal Markets that sell raw products, they were not familiar of going to a place to buy food from the street,” Takis tells the paper.

Yet Fork’s venture seems to have been accepted. “I think Cypriots like the concept of markets, people questioned us whether Cypriots were into this but they are; they actually stand in line and wait to eat food,” explains Takis.

And to make sure this is embedded, the locations chosen to carry out the markets are important for the duo. They want to find public places that are not commonly used and they want to move around.

In a nutshell they say: “We want to do something that we love based on quality food, with people that love food, in changing locations that are not well known; Have a nice time with music and drinks,” they conclude.

Breaking for the month of August, the Fork Food Market is due to return in September in a central park of the Municipality of Nicosia. More information about them can be found on https://www.facebook.com/forkcy/photos_stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

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