18 | Sep | 16

Richard Johnson

Best Of The Best

This year, we had more than 3,000 entries for the British Street Food Awards. And after five regional heats, and six months on the road, it all came down to this — 17 street food professionals, from all over the UK, cooking in pursuit of honour and prizes. What. A. Corker.

Last year the final was at the O2. But in 2016 we parked up in Birmingham. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Digbeth Dining Club know how to throw one heck of a bash.

We made a noise on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch. In the Daily Telegraph. And on twitter. All over. But it was YOU who really made it happen. Thanks to the thousands that turned out. You came a long way for what we hope was more than just a lunch. St Ives, Bath, Whitstable, Pembroke, Leeds and Derry — all over the UK. Heck, even London – the birthplace of the street food revolution.

But, for this weekend in September, the eyes of the street food world were all on Birmingham. The public voted with their hearts as much as their stomachs – Buddha Belly and Baked In Brick’s home advantage came into play, with votes in the People’s Choice Award getting up into the thousands. It was neck and neck when Saturday came to a close.

Sunday was a trader’s dream: a real sun’s out/buns out scenario. Our long-suffering judges (bear in mind they were required to taste EVERYTHING), from their patch of shade picked out the category winners from this little lot. To be voted the top dog by some of the biggest names in British food? That’s prize enough.

But it definitely helped that the winners of Best Of The Best were also going to get to pitch up at Trinity Kitchen, the game-changing street food market in the sky curated by British Street Food. Plus a guest spot at one of London Union’s world-beating markets — they’re the people behind the 2016 award for Best Street Food Event. And a month at Digbeth Dining Club. Our best prize ever. So, who won what?

BEST OF THE BEST (sponsored by Santa Maria)

Baked In Brick

PEOPLE’S CHOICE (sponsored by NCASS)

Buddha Belly

BEST SNACK

Broughgammon Farm
Goat offal and chorizo taco

BEST MAIN DISH (sponsored by Steelite)

Baked In Brick
Shire meadows beef shin ragu and wild mushroom calzone, Colston Bassett blue cheese dip.

BEST BURGER

Cheeky Burger
BSF Cheeky special
UK-sourced grass fed beef hand formed and hand pressed patty (chuck, rib, brisket and bone marrow), Comte cheese, confit onion and rosemary compote, grilled smoked applewood bacon, homemade garlic aioli, homemade ketchup, pickle, served on toasted bun

BEST SANDWICH

Le Bao
Bao with braised pork belly, mirin cucumbers, coriander, sweet powdered peanuts, and chili

BEST VEGETARIAN

Dosa Deli
Chilli Cheese Dosa
A stuffed dosa with a spiced paneer cheese, tomato & roasted channa dhal chutney, fresh red onions and tamarind apple and date chutney. Served with a coconut chutney and a side of Bombay bhel salad (a crunchy puffed rice, cucumber, onion and tamarind sauce salad)

BEST DESSERT

Man Meat Fire 12.15
Fallen Angel Cake
Rich dark chocolate flourless cake with small batch bourbon soaked cherry

BEST LOOKING MOBILER

Market Wraps

We ran our poll for the Best Looking Mobiler on Facebook. As always, it attracted a lot of interest, and the final shortlist looked like this:

Baked in Brick
Stinky Vintage
Sweet Ally Schoops
Market Wraps
Pizza Loco
Rendezvous54
The Toast Office

Market Wraps ran out worthy winners — Yorkshire’s finest, working out of a horsebox dressed up like an allotment.

BEST STREET FOOD EVENT

Dinerama
Finally, after years of Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff fighting it out between themselves, our panel decided that London should win back the crown for Best Street Food Event. We love the way Dinerama has offered up a different type of night out. All in the name of street food. And made scaffolding sexy….

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Bob Fox.
Just because we remember the early days, when NCASS and British Street Food met for the first time — over sandwiches — and talked about how best to put on the first British Street Food Awards. He’s a great man, with a charitable heart, who has given his life to food safety and gas connectivity. This one’s for you Bob. Thank you.

The Award for Longest Queue (all weekend) went to Dim Sum Su — the hardest working woman in street food. The Trickiest Pitch Award went to Pheasant’s Hill Farm, who made the most of Pitch Number One — right by the entrance. But by frying up buttery onions and pork sliders (and pulling their hotplates forward three feet) they soon managed to draw the crowds. The Most Photographed Award was shared between the food at the Breakfast Club (with their neon sign saying simply ‘Bacon’) and the Catch of the Day on Cafe Mor’s fishing boat. The Destined For Offshore Banking Award went to Well Hung, with their amazing energy, passion and business sense. Sure to be the first street food billionaires. And special mentions for Cracking Nuts, with their ridiculously delicious mix of ice cream and warm nuts, and Cheeky Indian, for an Indian-ish menu that won them a lot of new friends in the West Midlands. The Ones To Watch Award went to Shoot The Bull — the rolled lamb just didn’t happen for them on the day — plus Smokin’ Lotus — both hot contenders for 2017. Did someone say 2017?