If, like us here at The Status Life, you’ve got a penchant and proclivity for street food, chances are you’re already aware of the guys at the Taste Cadets, who have taken Instagram by storm with their comedic and camaraderie-filled adventures as they take us on a journey of discovery of some of the world’s best street food – from London to Vietnam and everywhere in between.
The Taste Cadets are a trio of food and travel aficionados consisting of Kieran Cavanagh (a former chef), Marcus Adams (a tattoo artist) and Allan “Seapa” Mustafa (who, if you love People Just Do Nothing as much as us, you’ll recognise as MC Grindah) and they have taken it upon themselves to give us a window into their street food loving lives via their hilarious and delicious food filled videos over on their Instagram page. They’ve also just discovered a hidden gem for sharing videos in the shape of YouTube and you can subscribe to their channel HERE. And watch their debut video below to see why you should.
We were fortunate enough to have a chat with Marcus, Kieran and Seapa about their Taste Cadets venture and, needless to say, they’ve had some epic food-based excursions already with many more to come. Check out what they guys had to say for themselves below:
Q: Give us a bit of backstory about the Taste Cadets? How did you guys meet and how was the idea for Taste Cadets bought to fruition?
Seapa – Me and Kieran went school together so we’ve known each other for years and we’ve always been massively into food mainly through blazing loads when we were younger and eating as much shit as we possibly could but that developed into a love for food and different cuisines in general. Kieran then went to live around the world for 5 years, France, Thailand, Argentina at the same time I was starting to do more traveling and we both fell in love with travel and learning about the countries culture and history through food.
Kieran – Everything we did always revolved around eating and blazing weed so we were basically meant to be together. Fast forward 10 Years I had moved to France with my girlfriend at the time and then started travelling and working in different countries around the world while the whole time trying to make it or at least get by as a chef. Seap by then had also done a bit of travelling so at some point over the phone I think we just dreamed up the idea of doing what we were already doing as a job. I quit my job, and moved back to London with no clear plan just a sense that we had something sick in the making. Marcus was a guy Seap told me I had to meet because I would really get on with him so straight away I thought I’d hate him which I kind of do but in a sibling kind of way because I couldn’t live without him or his genius, well thought out insights into food and culture. We also needed a cameraman and he said he’d be down so here we are today.
Seapa – Marky was someone I met later in life he was a local skater who also traveled on skate trips but had less knowledge about food and was more wide eyed and eager to learn. So when Kieran came back to the uk we just thought of an idea of us three travelling and eating self funding it all.
Marcus– I was just happy to be invited tbh.
Q: Do any of you have any professional capacity in food or just a love for it?
S– Kieran used to work in kitchens.
K – It’d be a stretch to say “professional” but I have worked in some restaurant kitchens under some proper sick chefs. I’ve cooked in Scotland, England, France and Argentina. Started off washing dishes just to pay the rent, then through pestering the Chefs enough managed to start working the line. Like most work situations I’ve found myself in was basically through chatting shit and pretending I knew what I was doing and trying to learn as fast as I could before getting fired which happened a couple of times. Me and Seap love cooking as a passion at home.
S – Yeah I love home cooking it’s in my blood, my family were always cooking in the home. My mum is Czech and my Dad was Kurdish so it’s deeply installed in our culture to cook and eat.
M – I only love eating, unfortunately, I can just about manage an egg sandwich.
S – Nah you cooked a banging curry goat when I went round yours.
M – Yeah true I’m lying I can somewhat throw it down when it comes to yard food, with the help of my girl.
Q: Favourite city for food?
M – Paris is one of my favourite cities for food but not just the high-level spots you might imagine..I really enjoy the back street Kurdish/Turkish/Algerian-type spots out there.
S – Hoi An springs to mind for me, it’s the first time we ever tried a Banh mi sandwich and it was a life-changing moment tbh and tbf.
K – My favourite city food-wise is Mexico City simply because of the taco culture. It’s mad how diverse something so simple can be. The handheld sidearm portable snack category such as burgers, sandwiches and tacos are amazing in so many cities but Mexico City has somehow evolved around the taco.
Q: You’ve clearly tackled a lot of street food in your time. Any horror stories to report?
S – Mexico was a nightmare, the first day we did about 10 different street taco stalls with gallons of salsa consumed. We all had bad bellies but continued in the same vein for the next 4 days until our bodies decided it was enough, it ended with me going through it on a motorway KFC toilet that had no seat or toilet paper, that’s all I’m saying. One of the lowest points of my life.
K – Yeah we all got hit one by one on that trip. Usually, Marcus tends to be the one that ends up constantly shitting for some reason. Although we all have instant action Immodium close to hand at all times.
M – Not really any horror stories, oh I thought I had dengue fever in Vietnam, I was bedridden coming out of both sides for days but turned out it was food poisoning.
It ended with me going through it on a motorway KFC toilet that had no seat or toilet paper, that’s all I’m saying. One of the lowest points of my life.
Allan “Seapa” Mustafa
Q: Which country would you say is unmissable for fans of street food?
S – Defo has to be Thailand or Vietnam because of their whole street food culture, you don’t have to be at a street food market designated area, they just have stalls of incredible snack-based food everywhere.
M – Yeah I’d say if you’re a street food lover get yaself to Vietnam ASAP.
K – For sure as a whole country Vietnam is the one. They cover everything you’d expect but then you’ve got Bahn Mi’s, some of the best Sandwiches in the world. Maybe the only good thing to come out of years of French colonialism.
Q: London features heavily in your awesome food videos – what’s your favourite street food market in the city? Favourite takeaway? Any hidden gems you’re willing to share?
K– Broadway Market switches it up quite a lot which makes it a bit more interesting to eat at. Ridley Road Market isn’t a food market but there’s a proper banging hole in the wall there that sells takeaway curry. They do a Karahi on a Saturday.
S – TBH I don’t really hit street food makers like that, old Spitalfields has some good spots, a dumpling shack for sure and a fire vegan Ethiopian spot called Merkamo. My favourite takeaway for me is a Turkish mix grill cos I live in east. Mangal 1 probably. Hidden gem it’s not that hidden but it’s lowkey Sam’s sandwiches in Shepard’s bush market for fire Algerian merguez sandwiches.
M – Borough market – go check Phil at Jumas kitchen for some Iraqi Kubba. My favourite takeaway is a Lebanese place near me called Sidra I get a chicken wrap with some Tabulleh and hummus and that when I’m feeling sexy.
Q: Your videos are just as much about your friendship/humour as the food – is it basically just mates enjoying new food finds and you’re inviting us along for the ride?
S – Pretty much, as well as an educational journey for ourselves.
M – Yeah, and more so the culture and stories behind the foods are what interests us.
K – Yeah that’s basically it. We are not food critics. Personally, I think there are too many people out there that think they have something interesting to say when it comes to eating food and I get bored straight away. I’m not sure exactly why people are into us but the feedback is rarely just about the food. I reckon people feel like they sort of join in with our journey.
Q: Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Which one is the one you never skip?
S – Never skipped dinner in my life. All I ever look forward to is food, so even if I’m trying to be healthy and eat less during the day I can always look forward to dinner. Can’t go sleep hungry.
M – Same I never skip dinner and I rarely eat breakfast.
K – I always skip breakfast and then go ballistic on lunch and dinner.
Q: You guys have travelled far and wide tasting food, how do you decide on which countries to head to?
S – Pretty much just where we feel like going off the back of being gassed up by watching a food documentary tbh.
K – Yeah it’s mostly from just talking about places we’ve always wanted to go to and watching shit. We all have different heritage but similar cultural backgrounds so our influences are generally the same. There might be little inspirations like for example eating a massaman curry that bangs hard might get you thinking where the origins of that dish actually come from and finding out could lead down a massive rabbit hole that ends up in us planning our next trip.
M – It’s really a discussion about our dream spots and the booking straight away, I like that…I’m not one for too much planning and schedules but thankfully Seapa makes sure everything runs smoothly
Q: Which country’s cuisine would you say is the most underrated?
S – Kurdish! More people need to try Iraqi Kurdish food.
K – I’d say a lot of Eastern European cuisine gets overlooked in the UK even though it’s everywhere. Try going into a Polish deli and choosing some smokey sausages and cured meats with some sauerkraut and dumplings and it’s obviously going to be incredible. Never in my life have I come across a Czech restaurant but I’ve been to the Czech Republic and the food there slaps so hard.
M – Jamaican food…I don’t think it’s underrated just maybe a bit underrepresented.
Q: Is it more about the adventure of travelling or the food for you guys?
S – Both! We’re not food reviewers we’re not there to judge it’s about the experience and the journey for us and connecting with people and their cultures.
M – For me personally it’s a healthy blend of the two that makes the perfect trip
Q: Saw that you guys just started doing YouTube for Taste Cadets – better late than never on that one haha!
K – Gotta be down with all these new apps to get anywhere these days. Still think this whole internet fad gonna blow over very soon.
S – Ye, I mean to be a full-time YouTuber you have to be travelling the world 24/7 but it’s something we want to push more. Go like and subscribe and all that you fuckers. That’s how you say it right?
Q: Any countries you’re desperate to visit to try their food?
M – (South) Korea is definitely very high on my list as Korean bbq is one of my favourite things to do plus I’d love to experience the culture over there
K– I’d love to travel around India and Pakistan for obvious reasons. Indian cuisine is one of my favourite foods so a bit mental I haven’t already been. I was watching Mark Weins in Pakistan a while back and I was left in a mental jealous starving rage after each ep.
S – Kurdistan – my family are still out there and I have never been and the food would be incredible, defo on the list coming up very soon.
Q: What advice would you give to those looking for new food experiences in new countries?
S – Do a bit of research on what foods you should be trying and a few base-level words in the language of the place you want to explore but also be open to new experiences and dive in head first.
K – Listen to the locals. If there’s a massive queue of OGs then as a rule it’ll be worth checking out. Have immodium within reach.
M – check our taste cadets’ story’s on Instagram, safe.
Q: How militantly do you plan your adventures or do you just see where the road takes you (particularly on your overseas trips)?
S – The thing is if we had more time in these places we wouldn’t plan but when you’re on a time limit then there’s less time to make mistakes. So we usually plan the route and all the places we want to go and then see how we feel at the time and leave some freedom to stumble across stuff or talk to a local and change up the plan.
M – We get some recommendations from our followers too which works perfectly seeing as they’re the ones watching. I’d say Seap is sort of the Emperor/dictator/caring aunty, I’m the 5-star general/logistics coordinator/translator and Marcus is just Marcus.
M – I do literally nothing.
Q: Any plans to release a book about the Taste Cadets adventures? A Lonely Planet of street food if you will. But funny.
S – There’s been talks, maybe something for the future for sure SNM.
Q: If there was a World Cup of street food – which four countries would be in the group of death as the best ones?
S – JAPAN, VIETNAM, ITALY, KURDISTAN
K– Mexico, Vietnam, USA, India
M – Vietnam/Thailand/Jamaica/Japan
Q: Do you try and properly embrace the food culture of the countries you visit? Any problems / funny stories you’ve had whilst travelling and trying to do this?
K – It probably involves my downfall so I’ll let Seap answer that one.
S – Of course, that’s our whole thing, to me the most interesting thing is learning the backstory and history of a culture through its food, that’s the main reason we do it. I mean there are millions of jokes times we’ve been bumbling tourist morons and completely fucked it up – one time we were sitting on the tiny plastic chairs at a roadside bbq meat spot in Vietnam and we wanted to know the name of the dish so we kept egging Kieran on to ask the locals next to us what it was called he kept saying no cos he was too nervous then finally cracked and he stood up towering 6 feet over that and points and say’s ’NAME?’ In broken English they looked in horror and one of them said there name and he went ok thanks and sat down and said see to us as if he’d smashed it, I was crying laughing trying to hide my tears and not look rude in front of our neighbours.
M – In Japan I didn’t realise how taboo tattoos still are over there and was very surprised when I was asked to put on a wetsuit at a spa.
Q: Any thoughts on branching the Taste Cadets out into new avenues such as beers? Would love to see you visit different breweries getting pissed?
M – Maybe a few vineyards on the cards, we love our natty wines
K – We’ve dabbled in the natural wine scene. We did a collaboration with Juiced Wines which was fun but to be honest introducing alcohol into the mix with 3 best mates can go either one way or the other. I reckon visiting a natural wine producer in Italy would be sick.
S – It can get tekkie when we’re waved put it that way. Haha.
Q: Have you stolen the recipes for any of your favourite street food finds to cook at home?
K– Seap made a Birria based on one we had in Mexico City once which was next level proper brought me back there. I’ve attempted tacos at home but it was nothing like the real thing. We made Chinese dumplings once which were incredible but we had a 70-year-old dumpling master showing us on zoom so not sure if that counts.
S – Facts, that Birria was heavenly.
M – Cooking at home for me is purely experimental
Q: Couldn’t find Taste Cadets on LinkedIn – guess that means you’re not taking applications for new members?!
S – Books are closed.
K – You have to have been signing on at the job centre for 20 years sorry
M – If you ain’t gang you can’t hang.
Q: What’s next for Taste Cadets – big plans for 2023?
K – More focus on better productions, moving on from just Instagram to other platforms and more of the same really.
S – the biggest year so far, lots in the pipeline, more full-length videos, more Merch, more everything. We go Vietnam next stay tuned!
M – Follow the grizzly and Subscribe to our new YouTube channel to keep up with all our adventures.
Image Source: Taste Cadets @ Instagram