The British Street Food Awards were set up ten years ago by acclaimed food writer and broadcaster Richard Johnson. Richard began his career as a food consultant and restaurant critic but was inspired to set up the awards event to ‘make every single one of us proud to be British’ and to bring out the best in the nation’s street food. ‘[…] the best meals I’ve ever eaten weren’t in a Michelin-starred establishment,’ he says, ‘they were on the streets.
The streets of Bethlehem with its hole-in-the-wall falafel shacks serving up fat pittas, stuffed with hummus, pickle and broad beans. And the Streets of Mandalay, where I first had fishy noodles – for breakfast –still salty from the sea. Street food is exciting. But you wouldn’t say that of street food in Europe. Until now.’ The British Street Food Awards is now the biggest street food competition in the world.
The best of last year’s awards
And last year’s event, with world-class regional winners lining up in London to claim the ultimate prize, certainly helped to put UK street food on the map with an amazing array of tantalisingly weird and wonderful dishes. You only have to check out the entries for best snack to see how far our British vendors have ventured… The Peruvian dished up Anticuchos: cow heart marinated for 24 hours in a Peruvian spice blend, cooked on a BBQ and served with potatoes and Peruvian corn, while Assembelly delighted with popcorn cockles with paprika and crispy seaweed.
How could I be so successful too?
Definitely not your average! If you’d like to check out this year’s crème-de-la-crème of street food, the Welsh heats are still to come in Swansea from August 24-25, while the final takes place in London from 13-15 September.
And, if you’re thinking of setting up your own fast food business and eventually becoming best in class too, maybe even entering the British Street Food Awards yourself, here are some top tips from the industry about how to be successful:
Keep consistent with your locations – people will know how they can come back and find you
Keep good records Make sure you know how the success of your footfall and takings is in influenced by where you go, and when
Push for the right spot – don’t settle for ‘doing ok’. Test the waters for that exclusive location that boosts your bottom line
Get your menu and pricing right Do you have too many items or is the pricing not right for your customer base?
Keep it streamlined Don’t try and be everything to everyone. Find the right product and service and the benefits will follow.
How I made it… Lee Desanges speaks out
In Business Advice online Lee Desanges, from Baked In Brick, Birmingham, explains how he reached success with his unique approach. Founded in 2015, Desanges built a wood-fire oven into a converted Mini that cooks a diverse range of food, from stone baked pizza to slow cooked lamb shoulders. He says: ‘Having run a food business I already had entrepreneurial skills, and having that background as a chef does help massively. A lot of street food vendors don’t have that professional background – they are just really good at cooking one particular thing, something that they’ve learnt and mastered.
For me, I get to put on lots of different specials, which maybe other street food vendors without a cooking background wouldn’t be able to do. That string to my bow is an extra benefit’.
Follow the Best British Street Food Awards
For those that like the best in street food, make sure you check out Cinders Barbecue’s Streetwok LP20, and make sure you follow the British Street Food Awards 2019 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.