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Interview with Brett Barnes of Po Boys

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We popped down to Leeds’ Trinity Kitchen to catch up with chef Brett Barnes. Brett has mainly been working in London over the past few years but recently did a successful pop up for Leeds Indie Food, ‘Thornback’ and is now back with a pop up street food stall in Trinity Kitchen.

Po Boys Low Res (61 of 68)

Hey Brett, tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been making food?

Oh god, I’ve been making food for about 14 years since i’ve been cooking professionally, but as an amateur cook probably another 5.

What made you start PO BOYS?

Good question! I’ve always wanted to get into street food and was in the pub one night with my partner Louise, trying to think of a cool street food idea and i’ve always has a bit of an obsession with PO Boys. Its fun, it’s going to appeal to the masses and everyone likes a banging sandwich! My idea at first was to have New Orleans Jazz playing as well but unfortunately, you’re not allowed to play it here.

What type of food are you guys serving? Are you going to be changing the menu much?

Obviously the food is PO Boys [They currently have Fried Chicken, Beef Brisket and Fried Shrimp on the menu] but we’re going to try out a few different things. We’re looking at doing Fried Catfish as a special and have been thinking about trying out a Meatball with marinara sauce and cheese as I think it’d sell really well. Realistically it might not work in the van, but a meatball PO Boy would be great!

Po Boys Low Res (67 of 68)

Po Boys Low Res (49 of 68)

Pop up restaurants and street food are the new craze at the moment, do you think they’re here to stay?

Yeah, I think it might have possibly reached its nadir but cant see any reason why it would disappear. It’s interesting, gives people more variety and the price levels are generally affordable.

Other than PO BOYS – recommend us some other pop ups and street food restaurants to check out in the UK.

Check On are friends who are really good. I’ve been helping them out and they’ve just released a book, Terry and George. Street food wise, Yum Buns, their pork belly is incredible! They’re getting quite big. Diamond Dogs hot dogs who are also friends which are always good food. Noise of Strangers in Leeds, they do some real good pop ups!

How important is branding to you guys?

Very important! I think a great example is us having the banner on of the van. I could genuinly tell the stall got busier the day we installed it. It stands out more, and especially with something like this, you don’t come in with a reputation already, people are mostly just going to go on what they see. If your pitch looks nice and sounds good, they’re going to try it. I’ve never done a street food stall before so people are just going on exactly how it looks. I mean, Chaat Cart are always busy as their pitch stands out and its curry so they’re smashing it!

Po Boys Low Res (62 of 68)

Leeds is thriving and flourishing with indie businesses – how important is that community to you?

Very important, as i’m hoping to be part of it pretty soon! When you go to little towns and its full of chains it’s so depressing. The more independent stuff the better! I’m looking a few sites myself at the moment so hopefully i’ll be joining them.

You are stranded on a desert island and you’re only allowed 3 meals for the rest of your life – what 3 meals would they be?

Hmmmmm, BBQ is my favourite thing, so a mix of Fish, seafood, steak and salad!

You can check more out on Instagram & Twitter.

I’ll join you on full english (Our answer) and go with Sausage, bacon, black pudding, hash browns, mushrooms, beans, fried egg and toast, with Runny yolk with a crispy bottom and plenty of buttered toast!

One more would probably be a really nice curry .. a selection of curries ideally. Dahl, poppadoms .. A few little bits of everything!

Is there anything else you’d like to add or promote?

A shout out to Pickle in Horsforth who sell North Star Coffee and a really nice selection of high end sandwiches and salads. It’s all to takeaway and tastes great!

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