With street food fast becoming this year's hottest food trend, meet Wanderer's Kneaded, a pizza van that's serving up some of the capital's hottest slices.
Founder Francesco Bani, who is originally from a small town near Bergamo in Italy, launched the business last year after becoming disillusioned working for bigger companies in the city.
“Originally the idea was born from wanting to serve food in the most honest way possible,” Francesco explained.
“We wanted to cook just what we believe in, no excuses, and served to the community that we love.”
Wanderers Kneaded – a pizzeria on wheels serving sourdough pizzas cooked in a woodfired oven – was the result.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the side of street food that see vendors as part of a larger community and of the city itself. I guess when I started WK I just really wanted to be out there, to get back in touch with my passion and see if I can pass it on to people.”
The pizza specialist explained that he wanted to create high quality pizzas with ‘edgier’ ingredients, something that would stand out in a stagnant market filled with global giants like Dominos and Papa Johns and local experts like La Favorita.
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He said: “I think the edgy approach that we have to our recipes raised an eyebrow or two around town, but to us its always been about feeding people something that they will remember, within those flavours, a story.
“To create our hand-stretched sourdough pizzas we scout for fresh, high quality produce in the right quantities and use local farms to help us with our selection of meat and cheese, and we have an independent Italian supplier that brings us the finest selection of goods, from 00 Caputo flour and San Marzano tomatoes to Nduja and Guanciale.”
Wanderer’s Kneaded aren’t timid when it comes to creating unique pizza recipes, diners can expect to enjoy pizzas featuring intriguing toppings such as the ‘Loves ya only when he’s drunk’, which has Parma ham, fresh Caprino and Lind and Lime gin soaked Passion Fruit, or the ‘Sweet Fire’, which is topped with a reduction of their cherry tomatoes sauce with ‘Nduja, fresh figs and exploded Burratina all covered with natural hot honey and even more ‘Nduja.
Seafood lovers can enjoy the ‘Mediterranean Brunch’ which has the local fishmonger’s smoked salmon and cherry tomatoes topped with a splash of dark olive pâté and a drizzle of lemon on a bed of buffalo mozzarella.
Francesco said that the response to the food truck since its opening has been nothing short of “incredible”, with customers seeking out their limited release special creations, even when they no longer do them.
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“We tend to create a ‘special pizza’ occasionally that started with the intention of making something different and killing the boredom created by an industry that sometimes slows down creativity, but it snowballed so fast that our creations are requested every week by private events and our followers show up everywhere we go showing us their phone and asking us for a particular pizza created in previous weeks. It’s heartwarming as hell.”
This strong connection to their customer base culminated in them winning the title of Champions at the recent Scottish Street Food Awards at the Pitt in Edinburgh.
Seeing off contenders like Fatboys, The Peruvian, dessert specialists Moo Pie and even previous winners the Buffalo Truck (who also won this year’s People’s Choice Award), Wanderers Kneaded were chosen by the judging panel to represent Scotland at the British Street Food Awards, something Francesco describes as an honour.
Speaking about WK’s winning dish, the ‘Don’t tell the Countryman’ pizza, which was topped with pear, Gorgonzola dolce and honey roasted walnuts, judge and co-founder of the Edinburgh Food Studio Ben Reade was prompted to say: “I lived in Italy for four years and it’s better than anything I’ve ever had.”
After receiving the award, Francesco said: “Winning the Scottish Street Food Awards recently has been the perfect ending to our first year of trading. It was so unexpected for us to win especially when you look at the amount of talent we were surrounded by at the competition.”
Francesco puts their rapid growth in popularity down to rise in the knowledge and attention people are now paying to their daily meals. Stating that he believes people don’t want to settle anymore and that they’re always on a quest for not only what’s the best offer in the market, but also wanting to see who puts the effort in terms of improving the industry, such as sustainability and treatment of products.
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Should you want to try some of Francesco’s creations, then Wanderer’s Kneaded can usually be found at around the country at events and markets but they are most likely to be spotted at their usually hunting grounds.
“We tend to do markets and cater for events of any nature around Scotland, but we love the vibe that we are giving back to our local community at our two pitches in town, one being at the Meadows, our most visited during weekdays (bottom of Middle Meadow Walk) and the second one on the Portobello Promenade.
And what are the plans for the future?
“WK is my ride or die, I struggle to look at it as a business, rather as something I am having so much fun with. although a plan is in place and shortly will be in motion, but it’s kind of ‘top secret’ and my lips are sealed for now.”
You heard it here first, watch this space.
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