Over the last few months TheAllAnimalVegan has been to several events, but there was one thing that was common to all of them: a humungous queue of people eager to get their hands on the vegan hotdogs served up by The Mighty Fork. Just plain simple hotdogs, but with a few twists…
You can see the queues in this picture, and in several videos in my other blog posts. The enthusiasm for these hotdogs at VegfestUK London and Brecknock Road festival fascinated me. Clearly, here was a successful, visually astute and delicious vegan business in the flesh.
I was interested in why their food stall was appearing to blast all other food stalls out of the competitive water at one event after another — they’re just hotdogs, right? So I jolly well contacted Rita Correia, the owner of The Mighty Fork and asked her twenty questions about this innovative business idea, including if she was as surprised as me by these queues?
‘Definitely!’ she said. ‘We feel truly humbled by all the people coming to our stall, and can’t thank them enough for all the continued and amazing support they have given us.’
‘We weren’t expecting to draw such crowds, but it’s rewarding to know we brought something to the community that people really seem to like’. It’s clear there’s a demand for plant-based foods out there.’
‘I’m not Wonder Woman’ Rita said: but then went on to tell us she manages the TMF HQ, from developing recipes, cooking, trading at events ‘where I have the chance to meet you lovely lot’, managing stock, being an accountant, managing social media, taking care of branding and design among other things. ‘I couldn’t do it all without the support of my amazing husband Pete, who you can find helping me out on the stall’. Personally, after hearing all of this, I think Rita could be Wonder Woman, perhaps that’s how she copes with the snake-like queues for her stall?
Right from the beginning, Rita knew she wanted to explore fast food classics. She wanted to provide a healthier twist on fast food that is suitable for most dietary needs without compromising on flavour. So she started developing the concept in 2012, ‘as we noticed there was still a gap in the vegan food market and began analysing the current trends’. By April 2013 The Mighty Fork became a fully fledged business. Rita spent long hours experimenting in the kitchen; ‘I can tell you our closest friends and family have had a few too many hotdogs in the months prior to our launch in July!’
The very first trading day was July 13 in Venn Street Market in Clapham Common, London. ‘I won’t ever forget it — it was the day a blazing heatwave hit London, but despite the sticky hot weather we had some lovely folks queuing before 10am, one hour before we opened! Crazy’.
The Mighty Fork’s attracts an array of customers, but twenty-something trend-setters, mostly vegetarian, vegan or meat-reducers, love them enough to queue in even the dreariest of British weather.
‘Most people are surprised by the fact they are actually plant-based – they just can’t believe it. If anything looks appetising, they are willing to give it a try based on the looks of it and come back saying they simply loved it. It’s the highlight of my day to know we changed a person’s perspective on vegan food by showing them that it’s equally tasty, the only difference is that it’s healthier and cruelty-free.’
Surprisingly, the majority of events The Mighty Fork appears at are non-vegan, ‘which is awesome as we’re spreading the word to the masses’. In the months since TMF began, they have been to two Urban Food Fests in Shoreditch and catered at Run To The Beat, a Nike sponsored marathon.
We asked Rita more about the interesting flavours offered by The Mighty Fork: Rita tried to come up with a concept that was simultaneously surprising but not too crazy. ‘We figured we would reinvent a street food classic and give it a healthy twist by coming up with flavours from around the world and putting them in a hotdog’. Therefore their menu ranges from Japanese-inspired flavours with the Yasai Dog, German Sauerkraut Dog, North American with the Big Chilli to Portuguese inflections of the Brew Dog.
We pressed Rita for her favourite: ’I obviously love them all! But my absolute favourite has got to be the Yasai Dog, I love its sweet aftertaste from the curry with the tingling wasabi mayo.’
We think The Mighty Fork has a really cool website too. ‘Thank you! Well it has a lot to do with me coming from a background in design and branding and always being surrounded by a very artistic environment. I worked as a digital project manager in creative agencies and my husband is a product designer. Needless to say, coming up with a product also meant creating a brand that was fun, friendly and easily identified by people. We also care deeply about the experience, we thought long and hard about every detail, like the little fork that comes with every hotdog.’
For upcoming events you can follow The mighty Fork on Facebook, Twitter or check their website. We can tell you they are at an event on 5th December in Central London, so if you want to try them for yourself (and you should!), here are the details. We’ll be there so see you in the queue!