Richard Johnson • Gizzi Erskine • Fay Ripley • Thomasina Miers
Yianni Papoutsis • Antony Worrall Thompson
Photography by Steven Lawson
It was a feast of extraordinary proportion — Henry VIII would have given up before the mains arrived. But the judges of the British Street Food Awards are made of sterner stuff than that.For nearly two hours, they sat and deliberated over the extraordinary cook-off that was going on around them.
Winner of the Best Breakfast category was Simon at Luardos with his Huevos Rancheros breakfast burrito. It turned that whole ‘I Hope It’s Not Eggs For Breakfast — AGAIN’ feeling on its head. Especially when coupled with the Best Drink of spiced Masala Chai from Manjit’s Kitchen in Leeds. This warming, fragrant tea of ginger, cloves and pepper was (despite one of the judges asking if he could use it as a poultice for his sore neck) the perfect accompaniment to the menu of 30 dishes that the judges had to taste.
The winner of Best Pie (although arguments raged all weekend about what actually constituted ‘a pie’) were Well Kneaded, with their Firebread Calzone. Some judges preferred the rich, savoury pork pie from What The Dickens, but the calzone stuffed with ham, and cheese, coupled with the thin airy crusts, won out in the end.
Jonathan Williams from Café Mor, who was the overall winner of last year’s British Street Food Awards, took home Best Sandwich this year. His Seashore Wrap With Fresh Crab – from Pembrokeshire, of course – was developed for the Olympics, and the judges were happy to award it a gold medal.
The vote for Best Snack was unanimous – the Pork Yum Bun from London’s Yum Bun. Although a very special mention should go to The Mussel Men, who had gone to the trouble of smoking their delicious, fat mussels at the judges’ table. But the pillowy, steamed Yum Buns, stuffed with rich, salty pork were extraordinary. Which is probably why they also scooped the People’s Choice Award, voted for by the people who turned up to see the British Street Food Awards in person. They narrowly beat Spit And Roast, whose fried chicken really WAS finger licking good, Wild Rover and Green Goat, whose fresh and seasonal menus championed sustainability. And still managed to make you want seconds.
The Best Burger came from Street Kitchen. The team in the silver Airstream based their whole menu on Label Anglais chicken, and the Chicken Slider On Brioche married a sweet roll with perfectly moist meat. The judges debated long and hard over Best Main Dish, sponsored by Trinity Leeds, with the Smoked Tofu Chili Jam Noodles from the Hungry Gecko just losing out (after a recount) to the Lowestoft Line-caught Cod In Ginger Beer Batter Served With Chips And Minted Garden Peas from The Fish Hut. The wet flakes of fresh white cod, married with the crisp batter? Perfection.
But the hardest category to judge this year was Best Dessert. Cathy from Lulabelle’s had never even MADE a Battenburg before. But the baker, from Yorkshire, turned out a belter with home-made marzipan and light sponge flavoured with almonds and rosewater. The Custard Tart from Katie and Kim’s Kitchen had the perfect flaky pastry. And Sorbitium’s Damson And Cobnut Custard Crumble Ice Cream was just sublime. Not too sweet, and alive with the autumn sharpness of the damsons.
But perfection wasn’t enough to beat Breakfast At Ginger’s from Gingers Comfort Emporium. This was a toast and marmalade ice cream, sat on top of an orange blossom sorbet. It was even served in a cone, wrapped in the morning newspaper – all part of the breakfast theme. Because of the extraordinary depth of Claire Kelsey’s imaginative menu, the judges decided to award the Best of the Best – sponsored by Marks & Spencer – to Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. Claire has already got a cookbook coming out next year, but now she’ll be meeting up with the Marks & Spencer and Wahaca for “mutually beneficial” talks. You can be sure those talks will involve ice cream.
The judging panel for the Street Food Awards is the most prestigious assembled for a British food competition. Ever!
Chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine is the Sunday Times cook and author of the best-selling books Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts and Kitchen Magic. She has also fronted shows on TV such as Channel 4’s Cook Yourself Thin and Cookery School with Richard Corrigan. Her recipes are highly inventive and accessible, making the most of fresh produce and intriguing ingredients from around the globe. Having attended the prestigious Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Gizzi is a visionary when it comes to food trends, and was one of the first to back the pop-up restaurant scene. In her latest venture, Gizzi hosted a cookery and cabaret stage at Latitude Festival in July and hosted a Barnyard Party in east London as part of Street Feast London.
Growing up, Fay Ripley’s father never allowed her eat puddings. But she’s making up for it now. I first met the star of shows such as Cold Feet and Reggie Perrin on Full On Food – a BBC2 series I hosted a few years back. She was cooking meringues in front of a live studio audience. Brave woman. She’s a serious foodie, and her second best-selling cookbook (What’s For Dinner) is looking even more best-selling than the first.
After winning MasterChef, Thomasina Miers went on to start the Wahaca chain. Looking to the markets of Mexico for inspiration, the restaurants are all about good, honest street food. Served indoors – which is cheating really. Tommi travelled across the country at some ungodly hour with Mark Hix to judge the first British Street Food Awards in 2010. So it’s great to have her back.
Yianni Papoutsis knows that, in troubled times, a juicy, two-fisted burger provides comfort. It isn’t a trend – it’s a classic. And it’s a classic for a reason. So he doesn’t monkey about with it. Since he founded the Meatwagon – and became the poster boy for the British street food revolution – he’s had his eyes on the prize. He now has two restaurants with doors and everything – MEATliquor and MEATMarket.
Antony Worrall Thompson
Antony Worrall Thompson is a celebrity chef, restaurateur and television presenter. His self – deprecating style has earnt him a huge following and he’s done more to democratise cooking than anyone else in Britain.
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