30 | Aug | 21

Richard Johnson

The Beautiful South

We love Portsmouth. And Gunwharf Quays – in its harbour-front location right in the heart of the city – is like our second home. It’s the third time we’ve held the BSFA southern heats here, and the crowd really seem to get it. Why wouldn’t they? The finest traders from the south of England? Competing to win their vote? The BBC were all over it. So were the newspapers and the instagrammers – raving about everything from the Korean fried chicken with flatbread, pickles and fries from Cuzinz to the chicken and calamari satay bao buns from Satay Street, the Korean fried chicken burger from ROK Kitchen and the ginger and bagoong chicken wings from TURO TURO. But there could only be one winner. Well, two actually.

So many favourites. There was Kara’s Kitchen, with their fresh paella (and patatas braves) that redefined the genre. The ultimate two-fisted Out ‘N’ Out burger from Eat The Farm, and the black pudding burger from Mr Pigstuff, who brought a cheffy feel to proceedings, and a distinctly porky vibe to their menu. Those wings from TURO TURO, and the sublime chicken from Satay Street. The exciting feelgood chicken/salad menu from LJ Hugs, and the full-on Brazilian barbecue experience from Carne no carvao – with those homemade sauces. Then there was the amazing short rib from Cuzinz and the sugared lemon pizza from The Social Dough Company.

Dafishting, down from London with their revolving display plate, attracted a lot of love all weekend with their black brioche buns. Soft enough for the perfect bite, the organic charcoal really helped to bring their DFT burger to the next level. The soft shell crabs were worth a shout too. Also called “Moeca” or “Chiguatos”, soft crabs are crabs which have shed their hard outer shell and fry up a treat. Even better, it has to be said, with a cold pint of Pimms from the Bootleggerbus.

Our judges weren’t distracted by the Pimms. Jonathan Marsden-Jones is a veteran of THREE British Street Food Awards. We even suggested that Jon, who was Michelin-starred Head Chef at The Black Rat in Winchester, come and compete one year. No answer yet….He’s been the Executive Head Chef at Solent Hotel & Spa in Whiteley for almost 2 years now, and he’s really enjoying developing menus across a hotel restaurant, a terrace grill and an on-site pub. But as for his work at the British Street Food Awards? He clearly needed help.

Cue Andrew Du Bourg. The chef/proprietor at The Elderflower Restaurant, based in picturesque Lymington, who has won Hampshire Newcomer of the Year and Hampshire Best Menu as well as Hampshire Chef of the Year. The Elderflower has also been noticed by Michelin and AA, being awarded Michelin Recommended (2014-2017) and 3 AA Rosettes. So when Andrew sat down next to Jon at the Gunwharf Quays judging table – with a place in the grand final at stake – finalists were PROPER terrified. But they had to choose a winner.

The southern champions, chosen by our judges, were ROK Kitchen, with Da Fish Ting in second and The Social Dough in third. And LJ Hugs were the People’s Choice, with Carne No Carvao in second. And ROK Kitchen in third. Both winners (and maybe a wild card or two) will now go the national finals at the Freedom Festival in Hull on September 3-5. To represent the South. Against the winners of the UK’s three other regional heats. In a normal year the British Street Food Awards winner would then go on to represent Britain against the assembled countries of Europe, but this still isn’t a normal year. Maybe 2022?

Judges’ Choice – and the Champion:
1.ROK Kitchen
2.Da Fish Ting
3.The Social Dough

People’s Choice
1.LJ Hugs
2.Carne No Carvao
3.ROK Kitchen