From pitching up its first food truck outside London office blocks to building a 16-person restaurant, catering and events business, Utter Waffle has come a long way since its inception in 2019. But, for co-founders James Timmins and Julia Jefferis, success wasn't always a given. It came about through trial, error and a whole lot of guesswork.
‘If any entrepreneur tells you they know what they're doing, they're lying,’ says James. ‘I think one of the biggest misconceptions – particularly [about] small businesses – is that we have any idea what we're doing. That's probably the only thing that hasn't changed – we all still fake it till you make it. And I think it's going pretty well so far.’
Friends James and Julia spent six months traveling South America and, after seeing the popularity of savory crepes in Colombia, they were inspired to bring back something similar. ‘It was a very social, fresh, cheap and interesting food. But crepes were a bit done, so we discovered its crispier, far more attractive cousin: the waffle,’ James says.
But it wasn't an easy ride, James explains. ‘We tried selling to people in office blocks. Trying to persuade a man in a suit to buy a savory waffle for his lunch was a struggle.’
Julia recalls their first day of trading. ‘We turned out of my road and two of our massive batter dishes fell out [of] the fridge and all over our brand-new van. We sat in silence for about 20 minutes,’ she says. ‘I was crying. It was horrendous,’ says James.
Fast forward to today, Utter Waffle is a four-time British Street Food Awards winner, opening a permanent site in south London's Herne Hill in May 2021. Meanwhile, its two food trucks have held spots at world-famous venues like London's National Theatre and Kew Gardens, as well as large-scale festivals, celebrity bookings and weddings.