This post was first published by My London on 11/05/2019.
The Croydon dads who teach single fathers to cook and now have a street food market stall
Guess what they sell – Indian Burritos.
Trevor Spain and Andrew Gulliford both found themselves divorced and unsure of how to connect with their kids.
Then one day, Trevor turned to Andrew and said ‘why don’t we start cooking ?’
Trevor said: “I was sitting in a McDonald’s somewhere on a Saturday afternoon with my children. I noticed something. I noticed that I wasn’t alone, although I’d never felt so alone in all my life.
“There were countless dads sitting with their kids doing exactly the same thing. The fortnightly meal with their kids.”
Cooking was a form of therapy
The 47-year-old told of how he and Andrew grew close as they discussed their divorces: “It was more a therapy thing, what made us cook. We talked about our divorces, which were quite different – one was quite amicable. It was new to both of us and we felt like the world was against us. It [divorce] is set up for the mum – you leave with your black plastic bags and that’s it, you have to start up again.”
This is what led to the idea of Supperdads, a YouTube channel that encouraged dads to make great homecooked food for their kids, maybe even getting the kids involved.
Trevor said: “I made homemade pizzas, made the dough the sauce and sprinkled on the toppings. It felt truly amazing when they [the kids] got involved and to my surprise they actually tasted great.
“We [him and Andrew] started talking about how dads are left out of their kids lives, it’s not anyone’s fault, just by circumstance. We had an idea to do a supper club in schools so dads and kids could cook and maybe bond over eating the food.”
“Possibly the dads haven’t got a suitable home to do this, so coming into a kitchen where this can happen will make all the difference.
“What it’s going to do is show them that it’s quite simple to make a wide range of food and it will be cheaper than a takeaway and also healthier. But most importantly they get to bond with the kids and learn a few new life skills along the way.”
Taking the plunge
The Supperdads idea, although great, was difficult to get going – Trevor was a builder and Andrew an accountant, neither had experience cooking and neither had the money to back such a project. Instead they took the plunge to leave their jobs and start up their own street food stall, Lil’Pangolin.
The Croydonian said: “I think with the street food, it gives you more confidence at cooking, we can network too, and once we get established doing this we can show schools what we do.”
But how did they come up with the concept of Indian burritos?
“Andrew had travelled round India. We had different ideas, we wanted something a little different, we love Indian and we love burritos – Indian is such a British favourite too.”
They love the community in Croydon where they have built up some regular customers and get rave reviews.
Trevor said: “When we started the street food it was the start of winter and we had all the months of horrible weather, but now it’s taking off and we have bookings for the whole year. We do Surrey Street, in Croydon, every Wednesday, a regular pitch in Horsham Thursday and Saturday, Redhill on a Friday and we’re booking events.”
Life has got even more hectic for Trevor since the birth of his twin daughters, who are now two-years-old.
“My life is anything but normal – I work Wednesday to Sunday, then I spend Monday and Tuesday with the twins. I think work is the break!” he said.
How have Trevor’s children from his previous marriage – Nancy, 19, and Liam, 14, and Andrew’s – Ella, 17, and Sophia, 15, responded to their dads’ new enterprise?
“They were definitely embarrassed when we started but overall they are quite proud of us now,” said Trevor.
“We’ve had Andy’s eldest doing days with us on the market and she’s gone on now and got a few jobs – working here probably helped build her confidence.
“My son has helped us set up a few times too.”
So where next for Lil’Pangolin?
“Over the next few years we want to get it well established and get another stand set up.
“We’re looking at taking on new employees at some point – in my last job I hired young offenders so maybe taking on them, I’m all about giving people a second chance.
“I got into trouble when I was young and left school at 15, and I wouldn’t be where I am if people hadn’t given me a second chance.”
They haven’t given up on the idea of Supperdads either, it’s something they plan to work into their street food business once they’ve built up more of a reputation and got some contacts.
Trevor is very positive about the future, but is equally proud of what they’re achieved already, saying: “We are just two guys giving it our all.”