29 | Jul | 15

Richard Johnson

Tea N Toast

It’s an honour to announce the first competitor in the South heats of the 2015 British Street Food Awards. He’s an OG — an original gangsta — in the world of street food and, for the last ten years, has been attempting to save the world by dispensing tea. And toast – where necessary. Ben Mills set up Tea N Toast to warm the cockles and feed the soul in a small van covered in flowers. The only surprise is that he hasn’t competed at the British Street Food Awards before. These are the last heats before the finals. Maybe this year his stars are in alignment….

Which is better – street food or restaurant food?
Neither. It’s all about the moment and enjoying company, conversation and memories.
What’s unusual about your van?
That it’s still standing after 10 years of keeping the party going at festivals around the country.
How is it customised?
It’s bright yellow.
Where do you park it?
Wherever we are invited. Mainly fields.
How big is the kitchen area on board?
Just big enough. Tall people suffer.
How have things changed in the world of British street food since you started?
Everything has changed. We needed to catch up with the rest of Europe and regain our passion for cooking and ingredients. We have — and it’s brilliant.
Are you all mates?
Does the fight for a good pitch ever get nasty?
We’re not that competitive.
How many people can you feed in a day?
2000 short orders over 24 hours, but it burns your fingers
What is your signature dish?
A really tasty cheddar and red onion toastie on good bread.
The best street food you’ve ever had?
Freshly caught sardines cooked up on a tiny BBQ in a Cornwall surf shack — when the sun was going down over the sea.
Have you won any awards?
We just won People’s Choice Best Trader Award at Glastonbury Festival which was a fabulous surprise.
Anything else you want to tell me?
I’ll save that for my psychiatrist.