Since April 2022, StartUp Croydon has been working on an exciting pilot project with BOXPARK Croydon. This was an initiative we instigated after receiving lots of enquiries from early stage food entrepreneurs to help them build their businesses.
We’re all aware of the change in culture to purchasing cooked food mainly because of the pandemic – and what big business it is now – with the likes of Deliveroo and Just Eat revolutionising the way we order food. BOXPARK and other shared eating halls have also been instrumental in changing the way we socialise and consume food while with friends.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve spoken to and met many early stage food businesses looking for help, support and advice, dark kitchens and start-up funds, so the need for us to provide mentoring and support became more and more apparent, and this sparked an idea around how we might be able to help new, local food businesses by creating a social project in the form of a unique competition.
Our well-connected trustees discussed the concept with BOXPARK founder, Roger Wade, who was incredibly supportive and committed to the social project, so much so that BOXPARK agreed to our proposal and generously donated their Croydon pop-up venue to StartUp Croydon for our competition which launched in May, and this week saw the three semi-final winners announced.
On Monday Aug 8th, we and the BOXPARK judging panel, Candy Willans and Tashia Cameron, met the shortlisted applicants who showcased their show-stopper dishes through taste test interviews hosted at Mr Fox in Surrey Street market. Mr Fox’s owners kindly provided their kitchens and restaurant for the contestants, all of which added to the experience of being involved in a well-planned and professional food-based competition.
The quality and standards of all participants was outstanding, and the BOXPARK judges, who were well fed after 3 hours and 6 dishes, then had a tough day of deliberations working out who should go through to the next round.
And we can now announce that the winners are (drum roll….)
Mucuaa – an Angolan inspired cuisine using mainly plant-based ingredients run by mother and daughter Leonor and Samaia that will bring you a taste of Africa
Soul Vegan UK – vegan soul food lovingly prepared by sisters Jameelah, Tiana and Karima who want to share their love of plant-based food with the world, starting with Croydon.
Fruiture Juicery – a refreshing and healthy fresh juice offering that not only tastes delicious but will bring the sunshine into your life even in the depths of winter
BOXPARK has interviewed all three winners and published a press release which you can read here.
The final stage of the competition runs until September 25th, during which each of our three winners will run their pop-up restaurant for a week at BOXPARK Croydon. Once the outright winner is selected from the three, the ultimate prize for one lucky winner will be to run their food pop-up for three months during October, November and December, and with the winter World Cup events being shown at BOXPARK throughout November and December, we’re quite sure the winner will do well.
We are all very excited to see each of the winners set up and share their incredible food with the public at BOXPARK Croydon from 5th September 2022. Watch out for further updates on these mouth-watering offerings, and please get down to BOXPARK Croydon by East Croydon station to support these local, early stage businesses as they reach the next stage of their business growth.
We would like to thank all the other participants who entered and took part in the competition. Your food is amazing and will make a significant contribution to the fantastic food entrepreneur scene that is developing in Croydon. We’d also like to say a massive thank you to all the mentors, Mr Fox owners, Aiste and Andrew, and BOXPARK themselves for helping to make this fantastic community project a reality.
We look forward to breaking bread with you all!