30 | Jun | 11

Richard Johnson

The New Face Of Street Food

The culture of kitchen aggression is widespread. Raymond Blanc had his nose, cheek and jaw broken as a young chef when a colleague threw a saucepan at him. It’s almost part of the training. It’s why Marco Pierre White could cut one chef’s apron off his back when he complained of the heat and stuing another one up before dumping him in the bin for a ‘time out’, without getting hauled up in front of an employment tribunal. Chefs are a law unto themselves. And they’re not interested in contractual smallprint. Nicola Smith from Healthy Yummies isn’t like that. She’s personable, kind and – if you catch her at the right time of day – she’s calm. She won Best Snack at last year’s British Street Food Awards for a dish of scallops, bacon and foraged sea vegetables that still lives with me to this day. It was a risky dish – Nicola didn’t know until the day before the finals whether the seas off Dorset would be calm enough for scallop diving. “We ended up collecting the scallops from the fisherman at stupid o’clock on our way to the Awards” says Nicola. “At a lay-by off the M40 – I always meet him somewhere weird. But he will only do hand-dived, and he’s passionate about what he does. We need people like that in the world.” Now she’s doing high-end catering for film companies and video shoots. And her Seared Bavette Steak with Summer Salad (recipe in Street Food Revolution) is the stuff of legend. And so much more delicious served with a smile – not a thump in the mouth.