FoodStars: giving birth to a galaxy of upstarts
by Zoe Perrett - Friday March 17, 2017 2:03 pm
FoodStars co-founders Will Beresford and Roy Shaby don’t just enjoy good food; they have a shared background in the industry.
It was raw fish that first caused Will to exchange a career in finance for life on the streets; trading at markets, festivals and events as Aji Ceviche. Meanwhile, as the likes of Just Eat and Hungry House established themselves, Roy rode the crest of an emerging wave in the online-only food delivery sector.
And then their universes collided - the resulting Big Bang birthing FoodStars. Roy’s delivery businesses operated out of commercial kitchens; Will was seeking a similar space and Roy had some to spare. A friendship blossomed, as did an idea.
The pair swiftly realised that the majority of commercial kitchens they’d encountered were either poorly-fitted out, unprofessionally managed, or too far from prime London locations to make timely food deliveries possible. They regularly saw glimmers of brilliance from fellow artisans and food companies, but few made the big time owing to a lack of equipment, skills, and business nous.
Their solution? Start their own company to provide upstarts with all those things and more. They shook hands on the idea, dubbed the project FoodStars, jacked in their existing jobs, and got to work. A friend of Will's was drafted in as director/adviser; and the trio built their first three kitchens.
‘One-size-fits-all’ was never in the FoodStars business plan - fit-outs are bespoke to ensure they fit every client’s needs. Will reveals that certain builds and customisations have proved hugely challenging, citing the installation of a 150-square foot walk-in cold room in a space with restricted head room and acute angles as one of the biggest hurdles to date.
As Will explains, ‘We aren't a restaurant or caterer trying to make extra cash on the side by renting out our kitchen every now and again. All our kitchens are for private use. We don’t advocate multiple food producers sharing kitchens, because when workspaces, fridges and storage areas are shared, it increases the likelihood of cross-contamination.’
Will also notes that team FoodStars prides itself on professionalism; managing and servicing all kitchens daily, and investing in a support network. If a business has an operational emergency, the company’s maintenance is able to respond immediately.
As any television property expert will tell you, it’s all about ‘location, location, location’. And FoodStars agrees - prime London locations are picked for their proximity to The City, Canary Wharf, or the West End. Currently, the company has commercial kitchens in Bermondsey and Bethnal Green, with a third site in Vauxhall opening shortly.
What kind of businesses make use of FoodStars’ facilities? At the moment, it’s a rich and diverse mix that includes high-end corporate caterer Dayan & Webb and Gym Food - which offers fresh, healthy, nutritionally-balances meals delivered on-demand. Going forward, Will insists that they’ll partner only with ‘the most committed businesses.’
Having witnessed the rise and fall of many a foodie start-up, and committed themselves to increasing the number that thrive, FoodStars’ founders have a lot of respect for their fellows in the food sector. They note that the industry is notoriously tough on both body and mind, and cite their biggest heroes as ‘anyone who gets up and works hard everyday, striving to make a living for themselves - whether they’re kitchen staff, delivery drivers or small business owners.
These boys work hard, and it must build a keen appetite - especially when they spend so much time around food. So what do they like to eat? Although they’re not ‘up’ on the latest London openings, Will admits to having a soft spot for a delivery from his local Pan-Asian, Tootoomoo. For Roy, it’s something inspired by his Gallic roots - ‘a good old Irish stew and a pint of Guinness’.
They better get those orders in. With the Vauxhall location opening in six weeks’ time and FoodStars’ other sites continuing to go from strength to strength, one suspects that Will and Roy will have to keep themselves rather well fuelled up…
For more information about FoodStars, click here