30 | Sep | 14

Richard Johnson

Goodnight Leeds!

The 2014 British Street Food Awards – which finished on Sunday – showcased a new generation of talent ready to change the face of British food.  With fun and flair, indoors and out. Fu-Schnickens, from Yorkshire, won Best Of The Best with their life-changing ‘gua bao’ – fluffy buns, steamed on the streets, and stuffed with tender pork belly. As part of the For The Love Of Food festival, the Awards were contested against a backdrop of live street art, hip hop karaoke (to liven up the queuing) and Naughty Boy – the number one DJ/producer– cooking up his shepherd’s pie. These days everybody wants in on street food.

Street food is the most vibrant, exciting sector in British food right now, with young cooks turning out restaurant-quality menus at take-away prices. It’s where the Gordon Ramsays and Heston Blumenthals of tomorrow are coming from. It’s why the most important restaurant openings in the last few years – Pitt Cue, Homeslice, Pizza Pilgrims and MEATliquor – began their lives on the street. It’s why the supermarkets are all doing their own ‘street food’ ranges. Just you watch — the High Street names of tomorrow were on parade at the 2014 British Street Food Awards.

The Best Burger – the Sumo from Birmingham’s Original Patty Men  – displayed art as well as craft. It was the togarashi seasoning in their burger – especially the chilli powder and szechuan pepper – that gave them the edge. That, plus the wasabi ketchup for heat. And ribboned cucumber, pickled in mirin, for sweetness. Interesting texture. Not piled too high. And a good shot of alcohol off the sake. The finest and filthiest longhorn patties in town – official. Yianni loved it.

But vegetarian food made a stronger showing than ever, and Best Snack – sponsored by Cauldron Foods — went to Fresh Rootz from Warwickshire, with their woodland mushroom, roasted pepper and spinach pakora. Best Main – sponsored by NCASS — was Fish&’s East Coast fish and chips, while Best Sandwich went to the Cauldron for their Ham Shank Redemption  – a smoked free-range ham hock in a wrap with smashed peas and mint, homemade black pudding, mustard, pickled fennel and cucumber.

As always, the Awards invited the best traders from all across Europe to compete – pioneering sorts who are prepared to make the two-day journey to Leeds in their vintage vans, trucks and trailers. Best Overseas Trader this year went to Nordic Street Food from Malmo, but the HY Kitchen from Vienna won Best Drink for “schnapps made by my Uncle Ludwig” and Antto Melasniemi from Helsinki won Best Dessert with his licorice chocolate pots.

Full list of the winners HERE