The Special One
This was the British Street Food Awards that nearly got cancelled. After the death of our Queen on Thursday afternoon, we wanted to be respectful. The fact that our dream venue – Hackney Bridge – was actually sited on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, well, seemed to make cancelling the right thing to do. But then we thought about it. We thought about how people mourn and grieve in different ways. About how food and drink are a great way for us all to come together. And by Thursday night, the Scots had already loaded up their van with fresh crab, and were on the A1 – the Welsh were halfway down the M4. It felt like we couldn’t cancel, and inflict more losses on small hospitality businesses that had already suffered so much during Covid. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing SHE would have done. So we went ahead. Quietly and respectfully. And with hearts full of love. Check this out.
As always, we’d had a lot of support from the media. From Sunday Brunch on C4, featuring food from three British Street Food Awards finalists, to Steph’s Packed Lunch, the feature pages of the Evening Standard, Delicious and Metro. And all over online. It helped that our judges were the Michelin-starred Tom Brown and Andy Beynon, plus Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones (who had just written their Love. Food. Family cookbook) plus actor Fay Ripley who’s written three of them!
After our four regional heats, the finalists came from all over the UK. Check them out here. But the vote for our Champion was unanimous. The judges loved Junk from Edinburgh – with two dishes that were very Scottish and very special. The people, however, who were voting in the People’s Choice award, loved just about EVERYBODY. Coming out on top, as the 2022 People’s Choice, were LJ Hugs from Bath, just ahead of The Fork Society from Birmingham and Kochchi from Glasgow. So Junk and LJ Hugs will now be representing the UK at the 2022 European Street Food Awards in Munich October 7-9.
Each finalist entered two signature dishes for judging. And it made for impressive reading. Check it out here. The winner of Best Vegetarian was The Bearded Taco from Cardiff. Let’s Avo Cwtch they called it – a Californian taco, with gin and tonic tempura avocado served on a lemon and agave slaw, vegan chipotle aioli, mango and habanero salsa and fresh coriander. A winner when we tried it at Street Food Circus, and a winner again when the judges tried it in London. Same as our Best Snack – Mr Murray’s Scotch Eggs from Manchester with their Bury black pudding scotch egg served with apple and ale chutney and a side of Lancashire parched peas. Impossibly delicious.
Our Best Main Dish was sponsored by Surplus To Purpose and Thomas Franks London – a super cool venture to repurpose food that’s being needlessly binned, who also offered up a range of delicious rescued fruit mocktails to everyone who came along to Hackney Bridge at the weekend. The winner was Junk with their Monsieur Crabs – crispy soft shell crab kaarage, yuzu kosho tartare, charred gem lettuce, kimichi and flaked Port Seaton white crab meat. Best Burger was Oh Babu with their six-hour Naughty Pulled Lamb Pav, and Best Sandwich was Humble Kusina with 100 Islands – pulled beef kaldereta, ikura, kewpie and spring onion.
Best Dessert was tricky: either the ostentatious cake-or-fake desserts from Skullduggery – who took over two of the judges’ tables to present Under The Sea, a masterwork with edible oyster shells and a six-foot Poseidon – or the chocolatey deliciousness of Humble Kusina’s pandan chocolate siopao with buko ice cream. Tom Brown, the Michelin-star chef of Cornerstone in Hackney, pointed at a stingray made of chocolate and said “If you don’t vote for that you’ve just got no heart”. And Skullduggery walked away with the Award.
Our new Future Food Legend Award was sponsored by Sessions, the founder-led food business. With an amazing prize up for grabs, they had their pick of an AMAZING Top Five: LJ Hugs, Cosmo’s Mexicana, Humble Kusina, Mr Murrays Scotch Eggs and Skullduggery. In the end, the prize went to Mr Murray’s Scotch Eggs.
Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra beer, rushed to join the judging – just in time to fall in love with the hoppers from Kochchi and choose them as winners of the Spice Award sponsored by Cobra. Louisa Dodd from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, sponsors of our Sustainability Award, had to pick a winner from an amazing Top Six, but settled on the inspirational Wild Street Kitchen.
We also announced the winner of two online votes we’ve been running on Facebook. There was Best Looking, the Award for the coolest looking van truck or trailer sponsored by Majisign, and our new Award for Best Food Hall. The Top Five in Best Looking was Peddling Pizzas, The Tinker’s Granddaughter, Tacos El Pap, Pizza Rana and the South Birmingham Curry Club. The winner? Peddling Pizzas. And taking the Best Food Hall title was Cutlery Works, ahead of competition from Sticky Fingers, Bang Bang Oriental, Dockyard Social and the Produce Hall.