Tales from the Street: Original Fry Up Material
By Natalie Hardwick
Of all the things to love about Original Fry Up Material - and there are many - it's their approach to breakfast serving times that's most commendable. "We started when we were hungover, the morning after a big one," says Tom, the co-founder. "We were sat around and said we could murder a Sausage and Egg Mc Muffin, but it was after 11am.” I didn't have the heart to tell him McDonalds stop serving breakfast at 10.30. “My partner, Jon Knight, was doing a bit of cheffing back then, so we thought 'sod it, let's make it ourselves'".
And that they did, their no-nonsense mission statement in hand. Within six weeks, their brunch operation had a name (aped from the title of Mike Skinner's debut Streets album and hands down the best pun-in-a-bun of the street food movement), a converted ambulance kitted out with kitchen equipment and a menu of pseudo-fast food breakfast baps. Their take on the muffin - quality sausage patty, cheese, round egg and a fluffy muffin - and hash browns were lapped up with relish by bleary-eyed Hackney dwellers at Netil House, Roman Road Market, Street Feast and many more beyond.
Buoyed by the success of the breakfast offering they decided to expand and create a menu to take them through to the evening. "We thought 'everyone loves a burger,'" says Tom. Hours were spent in the kitchen testing prime steak mince, premium bacon and sauces. Sauces are "a big thing" for them, another contender for Top Five Reasons to Love OFM, and each of their burgers are served with a bespoke accompaniment - their classic burger with dill pickle sauce, smoky burger with honey mustard and, rather precociously, their cheeseburger with piquant and salty salsa verde, an Italian green sauce with capers, anchovies and herbs.
Following a successful stint serving at Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, they then had a successful summer of festivals. "Trinity was a game-changer for us," says Tom. "We then did five festivals, including [foodie citadel] Wilderness, so we've had a really great year."
Add to this a pop-up residency at Dalston's friendliest pub, the Three Compasses. It was under the warm hospitality of owner Lauren Johns that we enjoyed a feast of OFM meatiness, enjoying their classic burgers with hand cut fries (just the right ratio of crisp and fluffy) and crunchy slaw. The hours of menu development paid off - the patties are moist but firm, the ratios balanced and the whole package pretty much perfection in a brioche.
Like the Compasses, the DIY ethos of OFM works so well as there's such emotional investment made in the venture. "The best part of the job is taking pride in what we develop then seeing people enjoy it. This all hatched out of nothing- there are times when we couldn't afford to eat, but it's been worth it. The key to our success has been offering something all day long. "
Tom's advice for people wanting to start a similar venture is simple- "Just go for it. If you don't throw yourself into something it'll never happen. But have a backup plan for money, like a part time job."
And the future for OFM? Aside from the residency at the Compasses and membership to street food arbiters KERB, the team are taking their merry meat wagon to the southside - look out for a stint at the Market House in Brixton.
Now the team have an army of staff helping out, Tom is taking time to get trained in a classic French restaurant. "I've never done professional cheffing and I thought I'd better give it a go."
Admirable, but I'd take an unqualified OFM any day.