06 | Oct | 20

Richard Johnson

Real Northern Powerhouse

The last time the British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s parked up in Manchester was the grand final in Mayfield Depot – three years ago. The city has changed since then; more traffic and more development. But the the rough concrete landscape stays the same. “An illustrious future built on an industrial past” as one poet put it. And there’s no escaping the glorious swagger of the place. Grub, who hosted back in 2017, did us proud again in 2020 in their new (well, reclaimed, reimagined and repurposed) space on Red Bank. We couldn’t have been in safer hands – literally, with staff all PPEd up, sanitation stations everywhere, track and trace on the front door plus a one-way system to navigate the site as 12 of the North’s best street food traders cooked up a real storm to win the public’s votes.

The rain was something else that hadn’t changed since 2017. Friday was a day of early Autumn sunshine, but it tipped down on Saturday. The ballot boxes were half full of water, and the votes came out all stuck together. Trump would have demanded a recount but after a draw – a DRAW – in the public vote on Friday, we had a clear winner on the Saturday. And now BaoBros23, Osaka Local and Maison BREiZH will all go forward to the grand finals on October 31/November 1. Actually, we’re taking Osaka Local with us when we showcase the BSFA finals menu on Saturday Kitchen this weekend. Check out our instagram feed. And with only the Scottish Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s to go, this weekend, we’ll soon be able to announce the full line-up for the final!

Our finalists for the 2020 Northern heats were:

The Hogless Roast
Before getting into the street food game, Matt was based in London as a copywriter and Ross was in The Cotswolds working as a dry stone waller. Now they offer up Britain’s first Vegan Hog Roast. `’We’ve taken the best plant protein out there,” says Ross, “infused it with smoky BBQ flavours, lathered it in chunky apple sauce, topped it with our homemade pea and sage stuffing, packed it all into a toasted ciabatta roll and then thrown in some naughty salted vegan cracklin’ for good measure!
“The feedback we’ve received from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. We had hoped it would be a hit with the vegan crowd, but when we meet speechless meat eaters, it’s always a real buzz. It’s nice to change those preconceptions that still exist about vegan food. We’ve even managed to convince a butcher it was real pork – he said it was the best Hog Roast he’s ever had.”

Sometimes you meet an individual who is qualified to give you advice about life. One such individual is Nick West from Yo31. After surviving a life-threatening illness, and with 50 fast approaching, teaching wasn’t getting any easier, or less stressful, so Nick decided to get a ‘big ass’ loan and purchase a 20-year-old three-berth horsebox from a man named Frank. “I’d never towed anything before, so a 300 mile return trip from Sussex was a good, if terrifying, place to start.”
Making pizzas came easily to him. He had the knack. But Nick has some life lessons he wants to share. “There are many things I’ve learnt during this process: you never stop learning; follow your instinct; don’t expect to get rich quick – or rich at all; make sure your documents are up to date; don’t cut corners; the customer is your friend; always have a plan b, c, d, e (ad infinitum); get to know and respect your competitors; don’t be afraid to ask for help; make things happen for yourself – noone else will……”

Honest Edibles
Honest Edibles, a fun and fully plant-based mobile catering company from Leeds, opened their first vegan restaurant back in 2017 and have gained a huge following across the street food scene at festivals and food events nationally. “We create food with incredible flavours only using seasonal ingredients that are either grown on site at our eco-friendly Cafe-Bistro, organically grown by our amazing local farmer or wild foraged by myself” says William. “Our global menu reflects both our dedication to sustainability (the team have made the 2020 shortlist for the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s British Street Food Award for Most Sustainable trader sponsored by Hellmann’s) and also our passion to push the boundaries of how good vegan food can and should be. Our innovative Cafe-Bistro uses solar panels and wind turbines to allow us to cook and prepare food entirely using renewable energy, with us even recycling rainwater to use in our guest toilets! We are currently developing a solar grill that we will use to primarily cook our food at festivals when on the road next summer.” Not sure how that’s going to work out this weekend in Manchester…

Dan from BaoBros23 operates out of a little HY 1974 Citroen van. “I spent 7 years in Australia working in high-end restaurants with Asian fusion cuisine. I came across bao over there and when I got back 3 years ago I had to give Yorkshire a taste of what I have learned! We have plenty to offer to Lancashire and never go into a pop up or an event with the same dishes so we keep our customers guessing. I don’t particularly stick to just Asian food as the world has plenty to offer on the palette so we change it up quite often!” Manchester – get ready to be amazed!

Urban Cheesecake
It was Tony’s epiphany – seeing Lee from Baked In Brick winning at the British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s in Birmingham AND again at the European Street Food Awards in Berlin. “I told myself WE HAD to make it to the finals just once in our lives for us to feel as though we had really made a mark in this industry so hopefully 2020 can be our year!!!”
“We pride ourselves on being one of the filthiest offerings in the game with luxurious sauces and greedy toppings!!” says Tony. “Ash and I are both successful self-taught chefs and do this job because they love the industry. And we love the vibe. If we are not working in street food then we are eating it and talking about it!! We have earned our stripes and deserve a place in that final!!”

Hugo started MorMor after visiting various London food halls and seeing a gap in the market. “I brought the idea back to Leeds”, he remembers, “came up with a brand and identity and with the help of my then boss, borrowed his equipment and trialled my idea at his street food events. Two years later, and it turned out people enjoyed MorMor’s food! We now have a permanent site at Kommune in Sheffield and we are embarking on an exciting venture in London, whilst regularly trading at food events all around the North of England. Having won the judges’ vote in the Northern heats of the British Street Food Awards at Leeds Dock last year, and come pretty close in the grand finals in London, he’s hoping he can go even further in 2020.

Tikka Chance On Me
Michael Anderson is the owner and operator of Tikka Chance On Me – Indian Inspired, Manchester Made! Their first gig was in December 2019 at the Liverpool Maker’s Market in the Bombed Out Church. “It would not be an understatement to say that it was probably the worst day EVER! I was in tears driving back to Manchester that evening. Everything and anything you could imagine could go wrong went wrong that day. I didn’t have the right equipment and I burnt my food. I dropped a chafing fuel can and set fire to my gazebo leg. I didn’t sell any food at all, and it rained so bad that my gazebo slid down a muddy ledge! I felt humiliated and so stupid. But I came bouncing back the following week – stronger and better prepared with a much simpler menu…. And I actually sold food!”
His most popular dish? Chicken Tikka Kebab. “I use only chicken thigh, and I marinate it in natural yogurt, Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, lemon, ginger, garlic, salt, mustard oil, garam masala and a touch of cinnamon. The chicken is marinated for at least 24 hours and then I grill whole pieces of thigh on a hot plate making sure to get that right char and then I slice it into big juicy chunks and serve it on a Khubz (Lebanese flat bread) with coriander & coconut green chutney, spicy tomato, chili & mustard red chutney, cucumber & mint yogurt sauce and a fresh raw slaw of finely shredded red & white cabbage, crisp iceberg, shredded carrot & spiced pickled red onions.

Okay. So historians will tell you that Brazilian barbeque can be traced back to the colonization of the country by European settlers in the 1700s. And that the subsequent rise in popularity of the ‘churrasco’ technique is credited to gaúchos in the cattle ranching lands of the Rio Grande do Sul. But the real high point of the art? This weekend, when Bread&ButterBBQ bring their picanha to Manchester. The flavour-packed Brazilian rump cap served in their very own bread “Pão Francês” is out to win YOUR vote. Or maybe they’ll convince you with their cassava fries – Brazil’s favourite tuber, crispy dry fried! What’s Brazilian for yum?

My name is Reiko, owner of OSAKA LOCAL. I am Japanese and from Osaka and living in Manchester for the last 27 years – I’ve been in this country longer than I actually lived in Japan! I make Osaka’s soul food Okonomiyaki, aka savoury pancake, which is my main dish and authentic Japanese comfort food, such as everybody’s favourite Katsu Karē and rice bowl dishes. Also, as a special menu I often add Takoyaki (octopus balls) and kushikatsu which are another popular food from Osaka. There’s more to offer than sushi, ramen and teriyaki!

Maison BREiZH
There are 1001 pancake vendors out there with mass-produced jars of branded chocolate spread, crushed biscuits and low quality batter mix. Event organisers have a real problem finding operators with high quality and imagination. Enter Maison BREiZH with their main focus on showcasing the fermented buckwheat, the black gold, with a heady mix of Breton produce.
Breizh is Breton for Brittany. The Bretons pronounce it < BREZ > or < BRAYZ > but never < BREEZE >.BREiZH is proudly recognised as one of the six Celtic nations, with its unique language, spirit and culture. For hundreds of years it has been developing its own micro-industry for buckwheat a.k.a blé noir or sarrasin with its extraordinary taste – tangy, earthy, nutty with a very light bitterness. Will it convince the British public?

Seitan’s Kebab
Seitan’s Kebab is a vegan street food business based in Manchester, run by passionate foodies and full-time lovers, Matt and Steph. “We offer tasty, healthier plant-based alternatives to our favourite takeaway kebabs” says Matt. “Our menu is diverse, our ingredients are fresh and each dish is 100% vegan – from kebab to sauce.
“The whole business started one night after a couple of beers (where all great ideas are born). We were both craving a kebab and decided to make it happen… vegan style! We spent a good year perfecting our recipes using the wonderful meaty wizardry of seitan and decided to take the leap out of the boring 9 to 5 and into the world of street food. Just over a year into the business and we couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.”

DoughNCo are a mobile woodfired pizza business creating sourdough pizza using the very best ingredients available. “All our dough is fermented for 36 hours to make the pizza more digestible and light” says Danny. “We are coming up to 3 years old and have loved visiting some amazing places including Grub Manchester, Hawkshead brewery, Magic Rock Brewery and we are currently doing a residency with the brilliant Rivington Brew Co. We are self-sufficient needing no electricity and use recycled non-consumables to serve our pizzas.”