Meet Your Judges
This year, at the final of the British Street Food Awards, you’re getting a stellar line-up of traders. Makes sense, then, to bring along a stellar line-up of judges too.
In the past, we’ve been blessed with Tom Parker Bowles, Gizzi Erskine, Thomasina Miers and Mark Hix. Last year we had Giorgio Locatelli, Neil Rankin and Fay Ripley. This year? Wow. While the people have their own voice at the Awards (side note: remember to vote in person AND through our British Street Food app), traders will also want to impress some of the biggest names in the industry, like the Telegraph’s Xanthe Clay and chef Simon Hulstone. And to add to that roster, we’re bringing along some local Michelin-starred talent. All in the name of deciding who’s truly top dog.
Born in Yorkshire, raised in Bromsgrove. The head chef of Simpsons has shaped the culinary revolution in Birmingham — the only difficulty is making sure he skips breakfast.
For Nathan, food in Brum is all about the diversity. ‘The food scene’s always been strong,’ he says. ‘It’s one of those places you have the choice of going for a burger at DDC, or booking a table at Adams or Purnell’s.’
Nathan’s modest not to mention his own restaurant, which has held a Michelin star since 2000. Given he was drafted into the kitchen this time last year, it’d be fair to say there’s a bit of pressure on Nathan in keeping it. It doesn’t show.
Like the local chef he is, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nathan’s good pals with DDC’s founders. ‘Jack and James have added a real depth of value to Birmingham,’ he says. And what of the traders? ‘I’m looking forward to seeing the diversity of the entries. Would be nice to see Baked in Brick do well, as they’re representing the Midlands.’
Fellow local and Michelin-star chef Brad Carter has seen Birmingham transformed recently. ‘The Brum food scene used to be a bit of a culinary desert,’ he says. ‘But it’s really taken off in the last five to eight years.
‘While there’s a great range of independent cafés and restaurants, we still have quite a few chains – as any second city would – so I’d love to see more street food traders able to afford and obtain permanent premises.’
Before he sticks to his word, though, Brad’ll have to make sure the quality of the local traders live up to their reputation on the day of the Final. ‘I’m really looking forward to trying Buddah Belly, as they’re from my patch. But also Le Bao looks ace, I really do love those perfect Taiwanese buns and it looks like Le Bao give them their own twist.’
Before he set up his Torquay restaurant The Elephant in 2004, Simon spent a lot of time cooking overseas. Needless to say, he sampled a lot of time sampling the local cuisine too, from New Zealand to Canada, and South Africa to North America. Someone has to do it.
‘After dining my way round Britain and the USA’s street food scene, what I have tasted on the pavements of the UK gives the rest of the world a run for its money – the cultural diversity of Britain intermingles with great culinary skills and passion.
‘Birmingham’s a true home for this. At the final, we’ll see some amazing ideas coming together and being served ingeniously by the best of Britain’s street food entrepreneurs.’
In case she needed any introduction, Xanthe Clay is the president of The Guild of Food Writers, and one of The Telegraph’s long-running food writers.
‘I’m so excited to be judging the British Street Food Awards this year. Wherever I go in the world, I find the best meals are on the street: cooked fresh, inches from where the customers are standing, by people who are true specialists.
‘The British Street Food Awards are a chance for our homegrown talent to shine. Bring it on!’
The award-winning food journalist and founder of the British Street Food Awards has just been voted one of London’s 1.000 most influential people by the Evening Standard. What he doesn’t like to shoot his mouth off about is that the list also includes Nigel Farage.