Champions Of Britain
We had more finalists than ever before – travelling further than ever before – to cook food that was better than ever before. That was the finals of the 2018 British Street Food Awards. In Hawker House, a venue that looked cooler than ever before. Doh’Hut from Yorkshire ran out worthy champions, arriving on site early to prove their doughnuts for two days — and redefining the doughnut in the process. The People’s Choice Award went to Jah Jyot from Sussex for their samosa and dosa double-header. Both now go on to Berlin to compete in the European Street Food Awards. On Saturday!
Despite some seriously tough judges (this lot were the toughest we have ever had) there are some seriously smiley faces all around the UK – in Leeds, Manchester, Pembrokeshire, Edinburgh, and Birmingham. And to think it’s from spending three days in rainy South East London. Of course, there was more to it than just the winning at Hawker House. We had Loyle Carner and his Chilli Con Carner cookery school for young people with ADHD and dyslexia cooking up a high-end burger menu on a pay-as-you-feel basis. And The Naughty Kitchen, with superstar DJ Naughty Boy cooking up tikka chicken linguine in aid of Great Ormond Street. It was a special weekend.
The Best Dessert category had never been so closely fought. Crema Caravan drove 9 hours from Edinburgh to London, and people were so enamoured with Florence the Renault and her crema Catalana that mum’s word was forgotten – turns out you CAN have your dessert before you finish your supper. Up against them were Love is Churros: among the nicest people in street food. Just not easy talking to them with a mouthful of lemon meringue and fried dough – a kind of British fairground favourite, crossed with a classic British pudding, that chef-restaurateur Pip Lacey called ‘a really nice idea’. ‘You look at it, and you go, “WOW”,’ said Richard Corrigan at the Judge’s Table.
It was the legendary Michelin star chef who took a shine to the winner. After he dazzled Tom (Doh Hut’s founder) with his 70s Leeds football knowledge (this when Tom doesn’t even like the sport and hadn’t a clue what he was on about). Turns out Corrigan isn’t a fan of Leeds anyway, but he is one of Tom. ‘He knows what’s what. He’s full of enthusiasm. You could roll him out on breakfast TV.’ High, um, praise from a chef of 40-odd years.
You can’t underestimate the pressure on the traders. Parm Star were literally shaking in their shoes. Understandable, when you have four of the food and restaurant industry’s biggest names picking apart your food. Need they have been worried? ‘It’s fucking delicious,’ said Gizzi Erskine of their parmo. ‘I didn’t want to like it, but I do.’
Gizzi summed up the judges thoughts – it was ‘impossible’ to separate them. Especially when Tambapanni were putting out a prettily-plated jackfruit curry ‘the calibre of restaurant food,’ she said, when Ruby’s was ‘really fun’, when Carlo of The Peruvian was ‘one of the most talented chefs here’ and when Buddha Belly’s massaman and panang was so utterly ‘delicious.’
Anyone could feel gutted for Buddha Belly – leading the way in the People’s Vote after day one, and looking like favourites to win it. But up crept Jah Jyot, only seven votes ahead when voting closed. While it didn’t go their way this time, the ‘devastated’ Buddha Belly – this being far from their first BSF Final rodeo but by the sounds of things their last – will always have their place in the BSF hall of fame.
And what of their fellow Brummies? The Patty Freaks? Plenty to shout about, re-inventing the Big Mac. Gizzi was a big fan. Still, no easy competition with two-time BSFA finalists The Buffalo Truck in the same category. The People’s Choice from the Scottish Street Food Awards took a pedestrian dish – the humble chicken burger – and raised it to the heavens, with perfectly crisp coating and just the right amount of seasoning.
By the way, Scottish Street Food Awards wild cards Ginger & Chilli put on a great show. Everyone wanted a piece of them, whether it was the kati roll tacos or their take on cullen skink. ‘The Scots are VERY good at throwing things together,’ said Corrigan.
Their rivals for Best Snack weren’t going home without a scuffle. Assembelly fought their corner with some popcorn cockles which got ‘full marks’ from Corrigan, while Mangiamo had theirs covered with ‘the best pizza toppings in the business.’ ‘And the only place to put kale on a pizza and get away with it’ said BSF founder Richard Johnson. Paternoster Farm brought their own reared Mangalitza pigs, in their confited, deep fried form, to the table. Call off the search – it was the beer snack to end all beer snacks. ‘The provenance of Paternoster Farm is second to none. ‘Truly farm to fork food,’ said Johnson.
And fair play to ROK Kitchen, sticking it out while their little patch of Korea got more than a little rained on. It didn’t stop people coming back for seconds, we noticed. A tip of the hat to Wallace, too, for taking their prep to the extreme. ‘Love the way Wallace & Sons make their own baos. By hand,’ said Johnson. ‘No cash and carry here – just real art and industry.’
So, what did we all learn? One: doesn’t matter how many traders you have or how tucked away they are – punters will forage. Especially for doughnuts. Two: sorry sourdough, the sliced white loaf still has its place in a toastie. Three: Corrigan’s your man for football trivia. Oh and, four: there is, after all, no weekend quite like a wet one in South East London. Berlin here we come.
BEST OF THE BEST
WINNER Jah Jyot
Second Place Buddha Belly
Third Place Doh’Hut
WINNER The Peruvian
Leche de tigre Cebiche: Fresh fish cured in lime juice served with sweet potato, Peruvian corn, Peruvian chillies, onion and coriander.
Popcorn cockles with paprika and crispy seaweed
Anticuchos: Cow heart marinated for 24 hours in a Peruvian spice blend, cooked on a BBQ and served with potatoes and Peruvian corn.
Chicharrones: Pork belly from our free range Mangalitza pigs, confited for 12 hours, then deep fried and served with cumin salt and lemon. The meatier cousin to a pork scratching!
Ruby’s Street Kitchen
Indian Fried Chicken, spiced with lemongrass, green chilli and house masala
Fennel Sausage and Kale Pizza: White base – Italian fennel sausage – British kale sauteed in garlic – fior di latte mozzarella – grated Parmesan – extra virgin olive oil
Ginger & Chilli
Keralan Cullen Skink: Our take on the famous Scottish soup pimped with curry leaves, mustard seeds, coconut, turmeric and Arbroath smokies.
4.43 Paternoster Farm
Cod cheeks: Pan fried with samphire and garlic butter and served on our ham & haddock chowder. The ultimate surf & turf.
BEST MAIN DISH
WINNER Parm Star
Parmo Plate: Our take on the north east classic. Panko-crumbed fried chicken fillet, béchamel sauce and melted Cheddar cheese.
Sri Lankan hopper: Fresh ground rice flour and fresh-made coconut milk, mixed and fermented into a batter. Cooked in a hopper pan to make a spongy and crisp edible bowl, then filled with Sardine stuffed calamari, fresh line caught tuna marinated in Sri Lankan Spices, coconut curry sauce & chilli sambol.
Thai curry duo of slow cooked beef massuman with spicy chicken panang and lime leaf.
Bulgogi Marinated Essex Heritage Red Poll Beef with Kimchi Fried Rice.
5 spiced pork belly broth with braised duck egg. Garlic and chilli pickle, purple carrot, and deep fried onion
Bossam: Slow-cooked Essex pork with pickled chinese leaf lettuce, raddish kimchi and sticky rice.
WINNER JAH JYOT
Vegetable samosas, crushed and served with chole — soft chickpeas cooked in a yoghurt and tamarind sauce with heirloom tomatoes,
Sri Lankan vegetarian plate: Jackfruit curry, seeni sambal, brinjal moju, banana flower cutlet, steamed basmati rice and poppadums.
Wallace and Sons
Soy Braised and Beer Battered Cauliflower with Tofu, Sesame and Truffle Dressing
Aubergine Parmigiana Pizza: British aubergine roasted in tomato & garlic base – Piennolo cherry tomatoes – fior di latte mozzarella – grated Parmesan – fresh basil – extra virgin olive oil
BEST SANDWICH (sponsored by Hellmann’s)
WINNER Ruby’s Street Kitchen
Twister Bombay Toastie: Ruby’s Wensleydale cheese blend, spiced potato, pickled beetroot, and green herb chutney with homemade sauces.
Bacon and Scallop roll with laver, red pepper puree and aioli
Ginger & Chilli
Kati Roll Taco: Freshly cooked paratha stuffed with choice of meat or vegan curry, rice, lemon pickled red onions, Jaipur slaw, choice of toppings and homemade Indian chutneys
Wallace and Sons
Three Bao: Slow Cooked Pork Neck, Crispy Skin, Pickled Cucumber, Hoi Sin and Sriracha ~ Salt Cod, Squid Ink Bun, Pickled Fennel, Prawn and Mango Sauce ~ Chicken Katsu, Pickled Shiitake, Wasabi Mayo
New Yorker: The chicken parm sandwich. Panko-crumbed fried chicken fillet, marinara sauce, mozzarella and pesto. Served in a fresh brioche bun.
Chicken Masala Dosa. Our rice flour and spinach pancake smothered with a rich Punjabi masala and filled with pan fried marinated chicken pieces, drizzled with tamarind and raita.
WINNER Patty Freaks
The Freaky Mac: Double steak patty loaded with freaky Mac sauce, pickles, american cheese, lettuce and red onion in a triple layered brioche cream bun
The Buffalo: Buttermilk-fried chicken burgers – marinated thigh fried in our own spiced breading – with buffalo sauce, blue cheese sauce and house pickles.
The Buffalo Truck
The Korean: Buttermilk-fried chicken burgers – marinated thigh fried in our own spiced breading – with homemade gochujang hot sauce, toasted sesame, spring onions and shredded mooli
The Sweet Freak: Steak patty loaded with peanut butter, Swiss cheese, caramel waffle, maple syrup, chilli jam and streaky bacon in a seeded brioche cream bun
The Classic: Donut dough is made with fresh yeast and proved three times over 30 hours to ensure great flavour & a light fluffy texture. Each morning the donuts are rolled out to size by hand, proved for a final time and then fried to perfection.
Love is Churros
Lemon Meringue Churro: Lemon Infused Creme Patissiere Filling, Topped with Meringue and Crystallised Lemon Peel
Crema Catalana infused with cinnamon, orange & lemon zests and madagascan vanilla, topped with seasonal home grown plum compote and crumble.
Love Is Churros
Vegan Bakewell Churro: Filled with Almond Milk Creme Patissiere, Iced Topping, Almond and Cherry Rocks with Cherry Syrup
Scottish Heather honey-infused crème served with a
homemade pistachio and cardamom palmier.
The Creme Pat special: Donuts stuffed with Madagascan vanilla bean crème pat, and scattered with home-made honeycomb and homemade shortbread.
BEST LOOKING MOBILER
Harley Dogs in our Facebook poll