Popcorn Kitchen was started by street-food lovers PJ & Clare Sykes.
Clare has years of experience in the food sector having started her career at Unilever before running a chain of salad bars in London for several years. Following the birth of their son, George, in 2009, Clare chose not to return to a full-time job involving a commute into the City every day and set up a mobile catering business that toured the festival scene during the summer months. PJ’s background couldn’t be more different having been involved in IT and then property for many years.
What we share is a love of fantastic food and travel. After discovering ‘kettle corn’ and becoming addicted to the utterly moreish ‘Sweet & Salt variety (that forever solved our dilemma –PJ always wanted salt popcorn and Clare, sweet!) we decided to set-up a mobile popcorn business. PJ spent hours researching kettles and popping methods and eventually in April 2012 we were ready for our first Farmers’ Market in Ripley.
That summer we popped our popcorn at Farmers’ markets, Family festivals and Summer Fairs all over London and the South West. The feedback we got from our customers was amazing and we have an ever-growing collection of quotes from people telling us how much they love our popcorn. After each event we received emails and Facebook posts from people asking where they could buy our popcorn and so at the end of 2012 we started to look at retail packaging.
We launched our ‘retail bags’ at The Good Food Show at the Birmingham NEC in November 2012 and gradually found retailers who were prepared to stock us. Our fans are amazing and often send us suggestions of shops local to them where we should try and get stocked.
We moved production into a proper unit in Woking in March-2 weeks before Clare gave birth to our gorgeous daughter, Molly-Ann. It was a hectic time to say the least!
Since then we have increased our range to 4 flavours, moved into foil packaging which offers better protection for our precious popcorn, attended a couple of trade shows and increased the number of stockists selling our popcorn.
We still take our kettle to events and Farmers’ Markets throughout the year as we believe it is essential that we stay in touch with our customers and continue to get their feedback on everything we do. More than anything though it is great fun to be out selling popcorn so fresh it’s still warm and nothing can beat the pleasure we get from seeing someone enjoying eating it!