Finding the most delicious authentic local street food has always been a welcomed challenge for British tourists going overseas. It wasn’t until only a few years ago that people were able to sample what the UK had to offer. Historically, the only thing the UK had to offer was football ground style burger vans selling over-processed food to mainly half-drunk punters. British street food was not looking to set the culinary world on fire.
But while all this was going on in the UK, a whole new scene across the seas was gathering strength. The ‘modern street food’ movement was born in California in around 2004, when catering trucks from Hollywood movie sets were taken onto the streets. When the recession came many chefs found themselves out of work or unable to afford any premises to open for business, therefore an influx of renovated postal trucks took to the streets serving top notch, no nonsense food.
It wasn’t until the trend hit New York City that the UK started to take notice. Food writer Richard Johnson, was one of the first to bring it to mainstream attention. After eating a burger with Marco Pierre White in a New York park, while struggling with a hangover and complaining about the lack of a street food scene in the UK – the British Street Food Awards was born, with a purpose to gather and showcase the best of British street food. This caused street food to quickly gather momentum, as pop-up markets began to appear in the trendiest parts of East London and quickly spread to the country’s biggest cities.
Leeds, the host of the British Street Food Awards 2014 is a great example of how the movement has taken off outside of London, as pop-up food markets have been appearing all around the city. Trinity, the city’s newest shopping centre, allow five different food trucks every month to trade at the side of the building giving the country’s best street vendors an opportunity to sell their food alongside the Trinity Kitchen.
For those with a passion and talent for food with little resources, it gives them an opportunity to earn money doing what they love. But street food isn’t only for struggling cooks looking to make a living. Top established chefs are also venturing out on to the streets from their own restaurants, to get a slice of the action. James Packman, top chef and owner of Bistro Bruno Loubet, has this year taken to the streets of London with his ‘Le Swine’ van selling posh best bacon butty’s.
So what has got people so eager to get involved with street food? Is it the lively festival atmosphere it creates or is it merely the convenience of being able to easily access good food? Either way, street food has started to rival pubs, and people looking to dine and socialise with their friends see it as a practical alternative. As modern day living continues to be hectic, having food cooked and served right in front of you has proven more than useful.
We hope street food isn’t just another short-term fad, so chefs can continue to serve beautiful food, steadily growing their businesses so people who love good, unique food can continue to find it on the high streets. If it is still happening three years from now, we can assume it is becoming an inherent part of British culture rather than just a trend.
Street food is a credible alternative to conventional food channels that creates a unique food experience that is affordable, often served with sustainable disposable catering supplies and is only about the food. It should continue to evolve, expanding what is being offered on the high street. Other places such as festivals, concerts and markets are also benefiting from the street food revolution as the array of quality food on offer at these events is growing.
But what food will be served in 2015 by street food vendors over the counter? Burgers will of course continue to be very popular, but the market is very crowded. Vendors will need to think outside the box to make themselves different and stand out. Asian food with influences from Malaysia and Japan is expected to be a favoured choice in 2015 by street food enthusiasts.
A guest blog by Ed Martin: http://innsupplies.com
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