In 2012, James Tabor set up a small hotdog concession, selling free-range sausages at music festivals. Now a fully-fledged street food company, with residencies in Leeds and London, Dogtown Hotdogs are churning out some of the tastiest hotdogs you’ll eat this side of the pond. You can sample their brand new ‘puppy dogs’ at Model Market this summer, along with the house favourite – chilli-cheese.
What inspired you to set up Dogtown?
I’ve always loved hotdogs since childhood holidays in the USA. While working at festivals, I walked around and was dismayed to find the only ‘hotdogs’ on offer were horrible ‘jumbo sausage’ monstrosities. I decided to create a hotdog that would fill up a festival-goer who only probably eats once a day, with high-welfare good quality ingredients.
When and where did you sell your first dog?
I did a few festivals with other people, but my first stall was outside Ridley Road Market bar in May 2012. It poured with rain and I sold eleven hotdogs.
What makes Dogtown a cut above the rest?
We source the meat from Suffolk and Essex farmers we know and trust, use natural casings for a good snap, steam the buns, make our own relishes, great toppings and fantastic tater tots. We do a really popular organic tofu vegan-dog too.
What’s the most popular item on the menu?
The chilli-cheese dog. It’s topped with chuck, shin and bone marrow chilli, sour cream, coriander and tortilla chips. You have to try one.
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What have you got in store for Model Market? Is there anything else we should look out for?
Street Feast is all about grazing your way round and trying different things, so we’ll be serving our new ‘puppy dogs’. They are mini, half-sized dogs in little brioche buns, with some tasty new toppings too like the ‘Dooya Punk’ and the ‘Carmen Miranda’ (all will be revealed!)
What’s been the most challenging part of setting up your own street food business?
Getting pitches and spots was difficult. There seems to be lots more opportunities now for people but it was tougher then. Also as street food has advanced, people are looking for something more sophisticated than “just a hotdog” so we have to innovate all the time to keep us relevant and appetising to ever-evolving palates.
And the most rewarding?
Being told nearly every day “that’s the best hotdog I’ve ever eaten”, is immensely rewarding. And we really do hear it, all the time. Like a musician wants his music heard by as many people as possible, we want EVERYBODY to try a Dogtown dog!
Model Market is open every Friday and Saturday 20/21 June to 26/27 September, from 5pm-1am. Click here for more details.
Making shit happen and bringing the vibes.
So far no deaths or arrests.