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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Couple promise to serve up taste of Thailand in Carlisle

A Carlisle couple are promising to bring the authentic taste of Thai street food to the city.

Thai food couple photo
Alan and May Bell

Pad Thai StrEAT began trading this week from a mobile catering van, which will become a regular fixture at the Upper Viaduct car park.

It is the idea of Alan Bell, 48, and his Thai wife, May, 29, who is the chef.

Mr Bell is a former general manager of Gala Bingo in Botchergate.

He gave up his job last year to start the venture.

He said: “We saw a mobile fish and chip van at Kirkbride and that gave us the idea that we could do it.

“It was much more affordable to do this rather than open a restaurant. That would have been prohibitively expensive and then you have all the overheads.

“Our food is freshly prepared and cooked in the van just the way it would be on the streets of Bangkok.

“Thai street food is getting quite big, particularly in the south of England. We think it will grow. It’s something new and different for Carlisle and it represents excellent value.”

Prices range from 50p to £4. The signature dish is Pad Thai, stir-fried rice noodles mixed with egg.

Ingredients include tamarind, fish and oyster sauces, red chillies, bean sprouts, Thai vegetables plus pork, chicken or prawn. Often, it has crushed nuts on top and lime juice.

The couple, who live off Wigton Road, made the lifestyle change partly to be able to spend more time with their son Alex, aged two and a half.

They are using a Vauxhall Movano van, converted by a firm in Nottinghamshire, which has been fitted out by Border Food Machinery at Kingstown, Carlisle, and decorated by AST Signs.

The Bells approached the University of Cumbria to run a competition to design a logo for the business. Third-year student Stephanie Sitwell collected the £150 prize.

Mr Bell praised Carlisle City Council for allowing Pad Tha StrEAT to use the Upper Viaduct car park on a pay-as-you-go basis. He plans to park the van there from 11am to 1.30pm and 4.30pm to 7.30pm, Mondays to Saturdays, from today.

He said: “Maybe when the weather is better we will look at going to fairs and shows and events such as Solfest.”

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