The South Will Rise Again…
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness clearly hasn’t been to Gunwharf Quays. The number one premium outlet on the South Coast of England is a shopper’s paradise – all that’s missing is the street food. On the May Bank Holiday we decided to rectify that, inviting the best traders from all over the South to come and compete in the regional heats of the 2018 British Street Food Awards. We filled the place with light and love.
With Gunwharf Quays looking its sun-drenched and sea-breezed best, and the Tack n Tipple bar from Wave 105 promising a cocktail of beats and brews, we were set for one heck of a weekend. Jon Marsden-Jones, the Michelin-starred chef from the The Black Rat Restaurant, snipped the ribbon, and the hungry hordes were let loose on our most extensive Awards menu ever. From Korean and Chinese to Polish, Georgian and Greek. With Sri Lankan and Indian for good measure. And high-end bubble and squeak to keep the Little Englanders happy!
Traders had travelled from all over the South of England to compete. Tambapanni drove up from Devon – and parked opposite Stak’s from Kent. Dumpling Dumpling took the ferry over from the Isle of Wight. And Georgian Feast relied on the sat nav to get them all the way from Reading. But lucky GWQ shoppers felt the benefit, enjoying the special competition dishes. If they were quick. Free tasters — introduced as part of the BSFA’s new ‘mad minute’ — meant the people of Portsmouth got to try everything before voting.
At stake? Bragging rights. And a place in the national finals. The judges were impressed by elements of all the traders. There was the originality of the concept from Bubble&. The consistency of the meat from Stak’s Souvlaki. The s’mores dessert dumplings from Dumpling, Dumpling. The courgette kimchi from ROK. The level of presentation offered up by Wolf And Guzzle. The vibrant, fresh colours on the plate from Slow Food Truck. The use of marigold and blue fenugreek by Georgian Feast. And the depth of flavour in the chilli from Bunnyman’s Bunnychow. But there could only be one winner….
Two actually. The Judges’ Choice was Tambapanni from Devon. And the People’s Choice, voted for by everyone who came along to the Awards, was Jah Jyot from Sussex. After a packed summer of festivals, they will both head up to London for the final of The British Street Food Awards in September. If they win big there, they go on to represent Britain at the finals of the European Street Food Awards in Berlin.
Anoushka, the proud wife of Dinesh, was delighted. But not surprised. “You’ll not find finer Sri Lankan food in the UK” she says. “Probably within Europe”. As Tambapanni, the husband and wife team created authentic Sri Lankan rice, curry and short eats (all handmade from scratch) such as jackfruit pattie, egg rolls, spicy lentil wade and hoppers. Yes – hoppers. Like the Punjabi cuisine of Jay Jyot, it was a real education. And, over the course of the weekend, street food won a lot of new friends.
Anastasie Haros, from Athens, started his adventure in Greek street food less than a year ago. Since then, he’s gone from car boot sales and school fetes to trading at the top London street markets and — really — the Olympic stadium. “I chose this career because of my passion for food combined with my love for Greece” he says. “Every day I feel like I made the best decision ever.”
Street food from Georgia is trending right now. And, in the UK, Suneli are the key influencers. So say Waitrose Weekend. Not back in 2014. “Georgian food didn’t mean much to locals back then” says Keti, who was trading in and around Reading. “And Georgian ingredients weren’t available so we needed to go that extra mile. Now we import the necessary spices — not just for ourselves, but for other Georgian pop-ups too. Some of them are very famous chefs. As of today we are featured in two cookbooks : Kaukasis by Olia Hercules and Supra by Tiko Tuskadze.” But will it be enough to impress YOU?
Steven Chatfield discovered street food in Korea. “Freshly made noodle soups, skewered chicken in fire sauce, tteokbokki, live octopus at the fish market and spit roast chicken and ribs at the local football ground — the Chonnam Dragons.” Bit different from the burgers he used to eat outside the Arsenal. When Steven returned home, he decided to bring Korean food with him (“many thanks to John Torode for doing his series on Korean food and Weight Watchers for including Kimchi on their super food list”) — and ROK Kitchen was born.
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 roadside 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 mooli (white radish) parathas and the freshest, greenest sarson di saag (spinach and mustard leaves) smothered in the creamiest makhani (butter).” These finalists from the 2017 British Street Food Awards have got a taste for silverware. Is 2018 their year?
Wolf and Guzzle
Interactive street food! Think tapas — vegan friendly — with hot and cold selections PLUS allergen-free options. “From the very beginning” says Amy “we loved the idea of being able to design your own meal from various tasty little bits to make something filling and delicious, and tapas is the perfect style dish to do this.” Wolf And Guzzle minimise their waste AND their food miles and, where possible, are disposable plastic free. Blimey. Feel good or WHAT!
Nat and Dan are a husband and wife team who dream of creating a unique street food experience based on the Chinese dumpling. They fell in love with dumplings (“Jiaozi”) whilst living and teaching in Southern China for two years. “My given Chinese name was actually ‘Jiaozi’ as my students would see me eating them all the time” says Nat. “Some were steamed, some fried, some deep fried, some boiled. But they were all filled with something different, and always delicious.” The couple are open to influences. Whilst customers wait for their food, they can write their dream dumpling fillings on our ‘What’s in Yours?’ board! If the same filling suggestions crops up a few times they get to work creating it in dumpling form. Watch out for The Moroccan Lamb Tagine Dumpling, The Hoisin Not Duck Dumpling (vegan version of The Hoisin Duck Dumpling which is their most popular dumpling) and The S’mores Dumpling (oh yes, they do sweet ones too!)
Slow Food Truck
Here’s a thing — Polish/European street food fusion. Served straight from a funky hippy 1988 VW truck. By a charming man called Niko. He took his inspiration from the Polish classic zapiekanka but has pimped up the menu with world flavours. “Take a foot-long freshly baked baguette (yes it’s a foot-longer), add home made tomato sauce (family recipe) and high-end toppings” says Niko. “Everything goes under the grill, cheese gets melted, baguette gets crusty. Than we garnish with fresh leafs, plum tomatoes, gherkins and fresh chillies — simply delicious.” Well, we’ll be the judge of that….
Bubble and squeak: not the first thing you’d expect to have a base of hardcore fans. But look hard enough and they’re there, making the case for Brussel sprouts over cabbage (sacrilege!), or sausage in lieu of bacon (heresy!). Rupert and Marita have had their fair share of run-ins with the ultras, though by the looks of things are far from giving in. A good thing too – ever seen bubble and squeak jazzed up like this? With beetroot and cider compote? Halloumi and butternut squash coconut curry? Cheddar and shiitake? Foodies of the 1700s will be turning in their graves. Hampshire, however, is all the better for it.
Bunnychow, often referred to as a bunny, is a South African classic consisting of a hollowed-out loaf filled with curry. It originated in the Durban Indian community — but a family from England’s South coast are now busily making it their own. “We’ve had our work cut out in the last few years keeping up with life – five kids, two rescue puppies (+ cat), full time firefighter duties, festivals, separate food van business etc” says Steve from Bunnyman’s. “But we’d absolutely love to make our mark on the British Street Food Awards in 2018.” The steak version comes in Hot-as-Hell or Heatless versions (meaning you can mix them to your palette) and the vegans get a special Vegan Delight. “Yes – we can now serve a gluten-free vegan” says Steve. “That’s GOT to impress the judges….”
Anoushka, the proud wife of Dinesh, describes her husband as magnificently gifted. “You’ll not find finer Sri Lankan food in the UK” she says. “Probably within Europe”. As Tambapanni, who are travelling from Devon to compete, the husband and wife team create authentic Sri Lankan rice, curry and short eats (all handmade from scratch) such as jackfruit pattie, egg rolls, spicy lentil wade and hoppers. Yes – hoppers. Gunwharf Quays is set for an education.
The spices they use are all freshly ground in Sri Lanka. They grind fresh coconuts to make all the milk in the dishes and cook everything up in Sri Lankan clay pots to accentuate the flavours. They’ll be parked up next to the Wave 105 bar. Devon has previous in the British Street Food Awards, with Seadog winning Best of the Best in 2015, can the county do it again?