Europe is in the grip of a street food revolution. All across the continent, traders are taking traditional street foods – whether it’s banitsa in Bulgaria, gelato in Italy or churros in Spain – and repurposing them for a new generation. The streets are becoming a laboratory for new food ideas. But which country does it best? At the European Street Food Awards, now in its fourth year, we do our best to find out. Check it out here.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, countries in Europe managed to hold food fights and choose their champions. Well done to Italy, Russia, Wales, Iceland, Poland and Britain, where the public got to try every competitor’s food and vote for their favourites. Next year, the winners, plus a few wild cards chosen by industry experts, will get to compete for the European title at the ESFA finals. But in 2020, quarantine rules meant that we all had to stay put.
The ESFAs were the brainchild of Food Mutiny, the team behind the British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s. Founded back in 2010, the BSFAs are deemed to be the toughest in the world, with five regional heats culminating in a live, national cook-off, judged by the general public and Michelin-starred chefs. Ironic that, in the year of Brexit, the British now want to get back IN to Europe.
“Street food is taking over” says Richard Johnson, founder of the BSFAs. “And that’s because we are choosing to eat in different ways. We don’t want a fixed starter-main course-dessert menu any more – we want a bit of this and a bit of that. It’s flirty, low-commitment dining, and it’s why pop-ups and street food have become so popular. It’s a much nicer way to eat.”
Voting at the finals will be on the new European Street Food app which will showcase the best street food on the continent. With live GPS maps showing who’s trading where and when, it will also contain the latest news stories from a team of street food journalists, and allow punters to vote for their winners.
“The next step is to form a European team to take on the Americans” says Johnson. “We are launching the USA Street Food Awards in 2021. We want to take a container ship to New York, full of our very best traders, and compete on the streets of Manhattan. Then it’s the Far East. This new way of eating is all about coming together and sharing food – in a world like ours, that feels like a positive message right now.”