31 | Jul | 17

Richard Johnson

Brighton Winners

We like to take the British Street Food Awards all over the place. Remember the boiler shop where Stephenson built his Rocket? That huge, candy-striped circus tent in the middle of Cardiff? The O2, for goodness sake? But Brighton’s sand-and-shingle beach, right next to the Palace Pier? As far as street food environs go, it’s right up there. And, for the 2017 London and the South heat, we partnered up with Brighton’s Big Screen to show four favourite family foodie films which the traders then took as inspiration for their menus. It was a belter. The public chose Wingmans as their People’s Choice. And the judges (the food writer and actor Fay Ripley, the head chef at etch. Steven Edwards and the food editor at The Latest Andrew Kay) chose Sticky Bundits. Both now go to the national finals in Manchester and – maybe – the first ever EUROPEAN Street Food Awards in Berlin.

1. Sticky Bundits. The judges called the Asian fusion “exciting. Something different. New. Fully of umami and freshness”.
2. Jah Jyot. The judges wanted it pointed out that the Jay Jyot and Sticky Bundits were very difficult to separate — Jah Jyot were winners for a long time.
3. Little Blue Smokehouse. The judges called the Korean pork “absolutely damn delicious”. And the sort of food you would find served in a really good restaurant”.
4. Wingmans. The judges loved the crispy skin wings. And the seasoning. Even the plating came in for comment. “Just so pretty….” they said.
The Judges also wanted to give a special recommendation to Poptata for managing to elevate the humble chip to a special art form. Probably eligible for an EU subsidy.

1. Wingmans
2. Jay Jyot
3. LoveFresh Vietnamese
4. The Pig and Jacket
5. Poptata
6. The Little Blue Smokehouse

It wasn’t British Street Food’s first rodeo in Brighton. Back in 2014 we parked up at Brighthelm Gardens. But having the UK’s largest beachfront cinema running our selection of food films on a flippin’ massive (40 square foot, in technical terms) LED screen while everyone hung out and chowed down on some of the South’s best street food was something else. Anneka Rice agreed. Back in 2014 The Little Blue Smokehouse emerged victorious. They went on the win the People’s Choice at the finals in Leeds – the year that Naughty Boy DJed. And their Korean pork made them a lot of friends this year. But can the 2017 Brighton winners do it again in Manchester? Or in Berlin? Watch this space.

The Finalists

Mac To The Future
Wait a minute, doc…what’s this? Great scot Marty, it’s a fabulous mac n cheese slinger, circa 2016. If my calculations are correct, it delivers gooey cheese pasta at a speed of 88 mac per hour. At 88 miles to the gallon. Of cheese. Kid, it’s got something quite special under that hood – we’re talking mushroom and truffle oil, Marmite, smoked harissa and chilli, with caramelised onions. All contained within the signature 5-cheese béchamel. Woah, doc, that’s heavy.

Stickybundits is what happens when you take the idea behind sushi and the idea behind the burger and put one and two together. Stickybundits live and die by the creed of ‘bread is dead’ – this stuff wears the stripes of gluten free and dairy free, with a vegan option to boot. Fair to say they’re not up for leaving anyone out. Omnivores included. Slow cooked pork belly with a pork patty, Asian basil chutney and peanuts, all in a sesame rice bun is the kind of thing that gets people running for the hills of soy and sticky rice.

It’s one heck of a secret ingredient. It isn’t quinoa – or capsicum. Oh no. What makes Wingmans chicken so special? It’s LOVE. Lots and lots of it, apparently, if you’re trying to recreate their recipe at home. But guess what? Chicken helps too. Especially when it’s the sticky crispy fried buttermilk kind of chicken, sideckicked by truffle mac n’ cheese balls. They call themselves the UK’s first ‘authentic wingery’. Bit ambitious. But then again, it’s that kind of ambitiousness what wins British Street Food Awards…

The concept is very simple. Poptata is all about fresh hand-cut fries, from the finest British potatoes, double cooked (to order) in sunflower oil and served with a range of 14 signature dips in bespoke cones. Don’t mess with a classic. Such is the demand that they’re opening a third kiosk at Box Park Shoreditch – come see why?

JAH JYOT Punjabi Street Food
The inspiration for Jah Jyot came from the villages of Punjab. “The journey from Delhi to Punjab was along the Great Trunk Road which — back then – was a very long and tiring journey in the car” says Ranie. “Travelling through the intense heat of the midday sun without air conditioning meant stopping often at the little road side cafés (dhabas) for refreshments. These dhabas gave me the first glimpse of street food……let’s just say it whet my appetite! Large men, sitting crossed legged on plinths above big cooking pots and a charcoal fire of some description, cooking the most incredible food. The favourite dish for me was moolee (white radish) parathas and the freshest, greenest sarson di saag (spinach and mustard leaves) smothered in the creamiest makhani (butter).” The winners of the Sussex Food and Drink Awards in 2017 have got a taste for silverware. Is there space in the trophy cabinet for more?

The Pig & Jacket
The Pig & Jacket specialise in all things pig – from pork scratchings to their signature Dirty Hog burger, all accompanied by homemade sauces and chutneys. Cheryl and Richard get their meat from a Mays Farm, which specialises in free range pork and grass fed beef in Laughton, East Sussex, and their brioche rolls from Mamoosh in Newhaven which has been nominated for Sussex Butcher of the Year 2017. Keeping it local!

The Little Blue Smokehouse
LBS smoke hundreds a day. And we don’t mean ciggies. They cure, brine, and dry rub everything themselves, then hot smoke it with oak. What they can’t embellish with wood and fire they pickle, then serve one beside the other. It’s all part of their life’s work – they emerged victorious in the BSFA South East heat in 2014, then went on to secure the People’s Choice at the final in Leeds. ‘We smoked non-stop and slept very little,’ they say. Can heavy smokers LBS do it again?

Eat The Farm
It’s one heck of an ambition – to convert vegetarians. To meat-eating. With your burgers. In Brighton of all places – there will be placards! But that’s what Eat The Farm are gunning for in the London and the South heat. Like Cheeky Burger, Eat The Farm qualified for last year’s finals. And both are coming back for more. And Arturo (Papa Meat from Eat The Farm) wants to win over those veggies. ‘We love converting vegetarians. During our participation in the 2016 BSFAs we appeared on Sunday Brunch, and converted one of the crew to eat our Dirty Cow burger. At the finals at Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham, we converted another one who ended up having two of our burgers – both with extra bacon.’ Maybe this year they should aim for the vegans….

Gaucho BBQ
Man discovered fire. And used it to cook meat. The advent of grilling (and it happened long before Neanderthals appeared) was a powerful evolutionary force—leading to language and complex social organization. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Barbecue begat civilization. Yoav is more evolved than most. He and his team hand-cut, season and cook their prime beef and lamb cuts ‘low and slow’ on an impressive, South American BBQ. Everything is served up with sharp, clean chimichurri – and a big smile that comes from a job well done.

Beefcake London
Imagine our delight when we discovered a new sandwich. In fact – created on the sout’ side (no h) of Chicago – the classic Italian beef is a sangwich (no d). And a unique messy variation on the French Dip. It was created in the Italian neighbourhoods around the now defunct stockyards, and popularized by Pasquale Scala, a sout side butcher. In the Depression, his thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with juice and fried peppers sangwich became a Chicago staple. And now, thanks to Beefcake, London’s getting a taste.

With the help of one of his oldest friends, Dougie built the Crabbieshack, inspired by fishermen’s huts from his home town in Folkestone. Resisting the naysayers, he decided to concentrate only on crab, offering soft shell crab burgers with a number of different garnish options. As much as possible he sources his ingredients for his signature crabbie burger from the Kent coast – a soft shell crab, deep-fried in Old Bay batter, garnished with fennel, almonds, harissa and avocado. All served, of course, in a brioche bun.

Waffle Doodle-doo
Take two passionate foodie friends – one home cook, one trained by Mark Hix. Let them loose on a London stret food market and what do they create? Chicken and waffle, Beef and waffle and Fish and waffle – all served with homemade honeycomb butter sauce and maple syrup. “We get to meet new foodie lovers everyday” says Soraya “and they love how fresh we cook their food in front of them. With a good catch-up about food of course!” 

LoveFresh Vietnamese
Meet these riculously charming traders from London who have just gone legit with their first bricks and mortar set-up. Personally recommended to the British Street Food team by Mel from Great British Bake Off – with good reason. “Bringing to others what we grew up eating as young children, LoveFresh Vietnamese is about simple traditional Vietnamese food. We want others to feel and taste the nostalgic enjoyment of what this food has brought to us.” The team make their own fish sauce. And never use artificial ingredients, MSG or flavourings — because great food needs no help. “And our food waste goes to feed a group of friendly chickens in Peckham, who kindly donate their lovely eggs when possible.” Happy happy happy.