08 | Jun | 22

Richard Johnson

Flower of Scotland

Scottish street food is in fine fettle. And this weekend saw the most diverse contest in the history of the Scottish Street Food Awards. Finalists descended on the Pitt in Edinburgh from North, South, East and West. The Scotsman wanted to tell the world about it. While the public – as well as our esteemed judges – chose their winner to represent Scotland at the British Street Food Awards finals in September. And maybe even the Europeans in October….

Antojitos were back to defend their title. Brave move. “Well, we won in 2021” says John, “and it changed my life and changed Antojitos from a wee side hustle/passion project, into a fully-fledged successful full-time job with three locations around the UK. So, we might as well eh? What’s the worst that could happen?”

He knew the answer. He could lose. With the 2022 lineup, there was a good chance of that happening. Take Taliotello from Inverness for instance. “Everything is made in my 10ftx6ft catering trailer – from the fresh pasta to the sauces that combine the rustic style of Italian cooking with elements of Scottish cooking and our fresh native ingredients.”

Or how about Kochchi (pronounced ko-chee) – the first Sri Lankan street food business in Scotland? Shehan and Suki were born in Sri Lanka but settled in Glasgow where they first met back in 2009. “We’re both food enthusiasts who have been raised on traditional home cooking” says Shehan. “Our vision was created when we decided to serve Sri Lankan street food from our converted a rice horse box.”

The best lineup ever deserved the best judging panel ever. With Ailidh Forlan, the blogger/founder of Plate Expectations, who has judged the Scottish Street Food Awards for the last few years. She knew to skip breakfast. She was joined by comic Jay Lafferty, Kayus from the band Young Fathers and Sam Yorke, the inspirational chef from Heron. And they chose Junk, with their soft shell crab and a WOW filled tatty scone, as the 2022 Scottish champions. With Kochchi, and that polenta cauliflower, taking the People’s Choice.

Lemon Squeezy, meanwhile, spent all weekend winning over the crowds with their signature seabass ciabatta sandwich. It consisted of a lightly toasted roll, lemon zest soya yoghurt, a fillet of seabass done on the grill, a fresh slaw made from shredded fennel, shallots and chillies with olive oil, salt and lemon, and some chopped coriander. The dish represented what Lemon Squeezy was all about – simple food done well. See what I mean? Best lineup ever.

The vegans were well served at this year’s Awards. Antojitos, of course, had the Seitan Barbacoa Quesadilla on the menu. “It won in 2021, it’s still our most popular dish, it gets the best feedback, the most interaction on social media, it’s the team’s favourite and it’s just, in my eyes anyway, a belter. Our signature seitan is grilled in smokey barbecue spices with adobo spiced vegetables and crammed into a quesadilla with melting vegan mozzarella. Served with our homemade chipotle mayo and Pico de Gallo salsa.”

But Typhoon Ten, a vegan startup, were hungry for a share of the Pitt’s plant-based market. In their very catchy van. “All of our Nae Beef and Chick’n burgers are handmade from scratch in small batches and from recipes we’ve spent a long time finessing. There are so many possibilities when creating mock meats, we played around A LOT before settling on our current ingredients. Another big hitter is our gooey cheeze sauce. I’d tell you how we do it… but it’s a secret!”

The falafel from The Falafel Stop was made from chickpeas and fava beans soaked in water overnight and ground together with a meat grinder. Then they add 7 different spices along with bicarbonate soda (to give it the crisp exterior) and a bit of water. All slathered with hummus, harissa paste and tarator sauce.”Tarator sauce (a tahini-based sauce mixed with citric acid, salt, garlic and water) is the original sauce used in Lebanon in all falafel shops. But the recipe I use is my father’s own.”

The team at Don Gueros Taqueria were every bit as obsessed about making their food fresh – including the cheese and the masa. “We are the only mesoamerican food truck to produce handmade masa items, such as tacos, gorditas etc. We use blue masa and white masa, we make our own green masa out of cactus, and a red masa infused with chilli.” They make menus based on regions of Mexico. For example, Oaxaca, Tlayudas and Tetelas. All filled with traditional ingredients such queso oaxaca and grasshopper.

Grasshopper? Some people preferred something more traditional – like the Ox and Anchor bacon and cheese, beef smash burger served on a brioche bun with home-made chipotle spiced BBQ sauce served with “famous” triple-cooked, hand cut fries. “We only use the finest of ingredients from the best local suppliers in Fife. The feedback we’ve had from our customers has been overwhelming. The reason we have entered this year is because of our customers. This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity.”

The idea for Junk came to the founder in a dream. “A dream of potatoes and sauce, crunchy bits and chewy bits. I was striving for something better than your average store bought frozen chips that contain 12% potato. We wanted to RAISE THE BAR!”. Starting with the potato itself. “We use roosters and ratte potatoes – plus Jersey Royals when they’re in season. We use the skins for frying, confit the ratte in chicken fat and make a pomme puree with the pulp. Then we finish with beechwood smoke to emphasise the smokiness of the Spanish sausage. And serve it with a sobrassada ‘foam’ in a tin can. Truly the stuff of dreams.

Chicken Skoop made a big noise at the SSFA last year with their signature dish – buttermilk fried chicken served in a freshly-baked waffle cone. ‘We bake our notorious waffle cones to order and stuff them with mouth watering chicken and various bits with your choice of flavour. We have had endless positive feed back over the last year with people saying it’s the most unique take on a dish they have ever seen! We recently switched to a fully gluten free model as well.” But was it enough to win your vote?

Danielle should certainly have won a vote or two for ingenuity. She claims she’s the first person to bring funnel cakes to Scotland. Big words. But The Funnel Cake Co is going from strength to strength. Funnel cake, for those who don’t know Danielle, is a cake batter that is poured through a funnel and deep fried. And the resulting deliciousness is served with different toppings including strawberries and cream, triple chocolate and banoffee. So want to know the winners?

1. Junk
2. Don Guero Taqueria
3. Funnel Cake Co

People’s Choice
1. Kochchi
2. Junk
3. The Buffalo Truck