Streat Helsinki 2015

A fleet of six food trucks touring the suburbs, a nighttime feast featuring five food kiosks, eleven workshops with 40 moderators, and a street food festival starring 66 street food entrepreneurs. Streat Helsinki 2015 grew into an eleven-day long carnival in its second year, tending to way over 30 000 street food lovers and selling close to 55 000 portions. The carnival took place 16–22 March, preceded by a suburban food truck tour between 21 February – 14 March.

Streat Helsinki attained a new level: what started off as a two day food festival in its first year grew into an eleven day street food extravaganza in its second. Street food as a phenomenon was explored from various perspectives, with over 100 street food entrepreneurs sharing ideas and practices, both on a Finnish and international level. Officials and customers also played a key role in the process.


Streat Helsinki 2015: Over 50 000 street food portions sold

A fleet of six food trucks touring the suburbs, a nighttime feast featuring five food kiosks, eleven workshops with 40 moderators, and a street food festival starring 66 street food entrepreneurs. Streat Helsinki 2015 grew into an eleven-day long carnival in its second year, tending to way over 30 000 street food lovers and selling close to 55 000 portions. The carnival took place 16–22 March, preceded by a suburban food truck tour between 21 February – 14 March.

”Street food and its makers are a part of the city food chain, a part of livelihood and a part of a lively, interesting city. Streat Helsinki has proven its worth to the city and has in two years grown into a concept bringing joy to citizens, and also an important professional meeting point for entrepreneurs.

Internationally minded from the start, the event is also interesting for tourists. Streat Helsinki is a part of the Helsinki Food Culture Strategy, a fine example of what food means to the city, and what food entrepreneurs can bring to the table,” says Jussi Pajunen, mayor of Helsinki.

Streat Helsinki has risen to the top of the international street food scene. Many international stars were spotted at the workshops, both in the audience and taking the stage. The amount of kitchens at Streat Helsinki is nearing the number at the San Francisco Street Food Festival. In addition to Finnish flavours, street kitchens from Stockholm, Berlin, Moscow, Malmö and Tallinn were on the menu. The steps taken during the workshop week in Helsinki served as inspiration for international tastemakers, and one particular encouragement to take back home was the focus on nighttime food kiosks.


Streat Helsinki EATS served a whopping 50 000 plus portions

The demand and interest around street food became tangible in the Tori Quarters at the festival held 21–22 March. In spite of the chilly weather, the two-day event attracted 30 000 visitors and the 66 participating vendors sold a total of more than 50 000 portions. 

”The feeling at Streat Helsinki EATS was, once again, magnificent. Citizens of all ages and from families to singles greeted the dedicated and happy entrepreneurs with a smile. Expanding to two festival days, a larger venue, and almost a doubled amount of vendors were all keys to success: there were queues, but lining up wasn’t seen as nerve-wracking”, Streat Helsinki EATS producer Anna Pakarinen sums up.

“To us street food entrepreneurs, Streat Helsinki has become the main event of the year. It offers an amazing opportunity to come together, and pinpoints exactly what is so essential about street food culture: very different entrepreneurs facing each other with support, sharing experiences, and a healthy competitive drive. This all adds up to fine-tuning your own business. It reflects back to everyone, both in food quality and a good ambiance at events, and it gets people on the move, even in less pleasant weather. Streat Helsinki is a good jump start for the upcoming season”, says entrepreneur Jyrki Karumo of Tortilla House.


Streat Helsinki WORKSHOPS gathered 800 participants

Held at the Abattoir during 16–20 March, Streat Helsinki WORKSHOPS examined street food through discussions and hands-on co-creation. The eleven free-of-charge workshops dug into the field from many angles, including street food bikes, insects as food, future prospects of international street food giants, and collaborative visions of Finnish entrepreneurs. Some 800 participants took part in the workshops.

Streat Helsinki WORKSHOPS created a collaborative base for Finnish street food entrepreneurs. As a result of the meet-up, entrepreneurs decided to form an association for discussing common topics, running events and communicating vending possibilities. Another association was formed for street food bike entrepreneurs and those aspiring to entry in the field.

“Our international guests were impressed by Helsinki’s street food scene as well as the spirit and scope of the event. Inspiring examples were traded between corresponding cities and events. Our Finnish entrepreneurs were very interested in, for example, year-round street food courts, a winter hibernation spot for food trucks, a start up centre for street food businesses, as well as shared kitchens. One of the most eye-opening workshops was the evening on insects as the future of street food”, Streat Helsinki producer Nina Ruotsalainen explains.


Streat Helsinki NIGHT BITES sparked after-hours cravings

On 19 March, Streat Helsinki NIGHT BITES showcased five new dishes in the hopes of seeing them as future classics on Helsinki’s nighttime menu. The Thursday evening was organised as a collaboration between night time kiosk vendors and the chefs Teemu Aura, Sami Garam and Meri-Tuuli Lindström. The five hand-picked grill kiosks around the downtown area witnessed hundreds of customers taking up on the offer of new dishes after dark. The long queues and sold-out dishes proved that classics and traditions have their place, but that there is space for a new type of demand.

”It is rare to see dozens of people lining up early on a Thursday evening. We wanted to wake up both citizens and entrepreneurs to consider the future possibilities of kiosk food. Centrally located food snack kiosks could develop into all-day, versatile food stalls. I will consider the experiences and feedback from Night Bites as one factor in the upcoming decisions regarding these kiosk vending spots”, promises Timo Santala, head of the City of Helsinki’s Food Culture Strategy.

“I really loved NIGHT BITES because Streat Helsinki took existing street food and found ways to integrate it into the festival, and had Helsinki folks and small food businesses appreciate that they can also innovate with what they have. It was so cool to see how one event could get different people out to the kiosks at different times of the day than usual, and exciting to see those as opportunities that could be available everyday, beyond the event”, says Geetika Agrawal from San Francisco’s La Cocina, who spoke at Streat Helsinki WORKSHOPS.

The dishes developed for Streat Helsinki NIGHT BITES will remain on the menus at the Karhupuiston Grilli, Rautatientorin Grilli and Jaskan Grilli kiosks. Manskun Grilli and Pikku Jaska would also keep the dishes, but are currently lacking the adequate spaces needed to prepare them.


Streat Helsinki SUBURBS proved that street food is loved in the suburbs

A head start to the food festival took place from 21 February to 14 March. The Streat Helsinki SUBURBS tour headed out of the city centre and into the suburbs to spread the joy of street food on four consecutive Saturdays. The food trucks attracted more than 3 000 visitors to Malmi, Kontula, Vuosaari and Lauttasaari, and over 2 500 portions were sold. Streat Helsinki SUBURBS moved around with three or four food trucks, and the families and elder people were well represented among customers.


Streat Helsinki 16–22 March 2015

Streat Helsinki expanded into a week-long event, focusing on street food development, supporting the field, exploring possibilities of nighttime food kiosks, and hitting the suburbs.

• SUBURBS 21 February – 14 March
• WORKSHOPS 16–20 March
• NIGHT BITES 19 March
• PARTIES 21 March
• EATS 21–22 March

Streat Helsinki’s main organisers were City of Helsinki’s Food Culture Strategy, Tori Quarters, and the Abattoir. The main partner is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, other partners include Visit Finland, City of Helsinki’s Public Works Department, Nyt and Eskimo Finland.