Leeds is a huge part of the British Street Food Awards story – the grand finals were held in the city back in 2015, and the team helped set up the street food offering at the ground-breaking Trinity Kitchen. So, when the brilliant Chow Down agreed to co-host the Northern heats of the BSFA on August 20-22 with the very best traders from right up North down to the Midlands, the BBC were all over it. So were the press. The winners across the three-day heat were Pellizco from Sheffield, with Greidy’s from Birmingham taking home the People’s Choice. And a brace of wild cards including Skullduggery Desserts (pictured on their cheesecake chariot). All now head to the finals at Freedom Festival in Hull on September 3-5.
Choosing the right judges in Yorkshire is always important. Chris Kamara was a good starter for 10. He is beloved. Properly beloved. And not just in Yorkshire, although the fact that he once played football for Leeds United does earn him a special place in the county. Since quitting the game, he’s gone on to commentate for Sky Sports, and present everything from Ninja Warrior UK alongside Ben Shephard and Rochelle Humes to Give a Pet a Home series where he worked alongside the RSPCA in Birmingham. He’s a lovely man, with a great sense of humour, and works as an ambassador for the Marie Curie charity.
Danny Malin, who lives in Leeds, is an internet sensation. He travels round the country with his own picnic table making videos for the Rate My Takeaway YouTube channel – and he’s busily going viral. The channel now has over 700,000 subscribers and he’s accumulated over 100 million views. “The strange thing is people coming up to me, asking for selfies and stuff like that, because as far as I’m concerned” says Danny, “I’m just this fat guy eating a kebab.”
Manjit and Michael run the legendary Manjit’s Kitchen & Bar. Plus a market cafe in Leeds. But they began life as street food traders. And these British Street Food Award-winners (Best Drink in 2012, according to memory) built a street food cart from the bits and pieces people no longer wanted. Like snooker cues – and the wheels from a child’s old bike. Then they bought a flowery 1980’s Leyland DAF 200 to tow it along, and put Michael’s vintage sound system in the back. Then – as now – the bhel puris, chapati wraps, and samosas were touched by the hands of the Gods.
They will be joined by Jonathan Harris. This former chef and co-founder of the Yorkshire Food Guide (the biggest northern website dedicated to the region’s best dining destinations) has over 18 years of experience working in the hospitality industry. When Jonathan isn’t running the business, you can find him either in the kitchen, baking, making fresh pasta, out in the garden with his beloved pizza oven or out and about hand-picking the latest restaurants to feature on the website. What a line-up!