Culinary vision from vintage van 'The Teign Canteen'
PUBLISHED: 11:26 02 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:26 02 August 2016
All Rights Reserved @ Pete Chadwick
A kitchen on wheels allows Daniel Edge to serve up tasty street food at venues across Devon, as Natalie Millar-Partridge discovers
Daniel Edge hasn’t always worked in catering. It wasn’t until 2006 that he decided to turn his hand to creating culinary delights, beginning as a commis chef after spending time working as a kitchen hand and waiting tables.
An extensive array of top-notch eateries followed and Dan’s love for food developed. Today he can be found serving up masterful creations from his Citroën HY van, known as The Teign Canteen.
Dan has always been passionate about good food, but it was travel, in particular to Vietnam, that inspired him with his business venture.
He cites the street food found in Vietnam as the best he has sampled, offering up a mixture of fresh spring rolls, raw salad, vegetables and rice noodles without any added dairy or flavouring. He declares: “I can honestly say I have never felt healthier from any diet.”
Dan had a clear vision for The Teign Canteen from the outset, knowing exactly what he wanted to achieve: simple, honest, good quality street food, served up from locally-sourced ingredients from a classic truck equipped to a professional standard, without any outside support. His beloved truck came in the form of an imported Citroën HY van, formerly used to deliver honey in the rural French village of Bouchareaux.
Bridging the gap from 1977 honey-delivery truck to bespoke, street food catering Teign Canteen was the ultimate labour of love for both Dan and his father Stephen, whose knowledge and skill have been paramount in the evolution of the project.
Dan describes the Teign Canteen as his very own proficient kitchen on wheels. Containing a professional stainless steel kitchen, the truck is ready to drive into a solitary field and cater for over a 150 people.
The Teign Canteen has been running a little over a year and has clocked up the miles visiting events such as the Exeter quayside street food markets, Teignnmouth Carnival, Bovey Tracey and Tiverton pannier markets and various private functions and events. Dan feels strongly about his connection with ‘the locality’ and insists that he will keep the business within a certain radius, not venturing any further than Taunton and the edge of Dartmoor.
He says: “I grew up here and love the idea of working locally and having a part to play in the community. The Teign Canteen is all about sustaining local business and supporting local events, using ingredients that are sourced in the area to produce the best flavoured dishes possible.”
Dan sources his venison from both Haldon and the Teign valley. During his learning curve surrounding game, a passion developed and on a rare occasion, along with the gamekeeper, at 4am just as the light emerged, Dan would stalk the fallow deer. It’s an experience he cites as being an incredible opportunity and a real insight into nature. Other suppliers for fresh local produce include Duck Aller Farm and Creedy Carver Farm for meat and the local Teignmouth Back Beach for seafood. He will only use ingredients that are either sourced from the wild or local free-range farms.
I ask Dan what sets the Teign Canteen apart from other street food caterers. He is passionate in his explanation, specifying that he goes to great lengths to ensure each process is mastered from start to finish. He puts his heart and soul into the development, from sourcing the ingredients, learning everything he can about the nurturing and growth of the produce to the customer service element of the business. Interacting with local people and educating them about local produce and the importance of where it is sourced is an area of his trade that Dan particularly thrives in.
He is in his element when talking about what he does and is resolute to stand by his ethos of creating simple, quality food sourced and served locally from his prized, pop-up vintage kitchen.
Street food served from the Teign Canteen comes in a variety of seasonal flavours with dishes ranging from ‘pho’, a French influenced noodle soup, made using fresh herbs, pickles, chillies, rice noodles, bean sprouts, lime and crispy shallots to the ever popular Banh Mi, again a French influenced dish in the form of a sandwich using French bread, pate, marinated meat, pickled veg, fresh herbs and chilli. For the less adventurous, Dan also offers simple dishes such as classic smoked pulled pork and wild venison burgers. He will also cater specifically to an event.
The man behind the van
Dan began his experience in catering in 2006 as a commis chef at the Exmoor Forest Hotel in Simonsbath.
He moved to Bristol where he trained as a chef de partie at the Bordeaux Quay before returning to Devon as assistant chef at Ode restaurant in Shaldon.
In summer 2011 Dan spent time at the Crab Shack on the back beach at Teignmouth as well as working at The Two Bridges, Dartmoor and The Elephant, Torquay. In 2012 Dan become head chef and manager of Ode Café in Shaldon.
Then 2014 saw the beginning of the Teign Canteen venture when Dan bought the imported Citron HY van.