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British street food: Awards to be followed by special focus at The Restaurant Show 2012

By Emma Eversham , 21-Aug-2012

The spotlight is to be placed heavily on British street food this autumn, with awards celebrating the new wave of street food vendors being followed by a special focus at this year’s Restaurant Show.

According to Richard Johnson, author of the book Street Food Revolution, street food has been the ‘most important trend in Britain for years’ and for several reasons there has certainly been a rise in the number of new food concepts which challenge the traditional restaurant format coming to life over the last few years.

British Street Food Awards

The British Street Food Awards 2012 is the first of two events this autumn that will highlight and celebrate this emerging trend.

The awards will follow a two-day festival of street food outside Jamie Oliver’s London restaurant Fifteen on 16 September where a host of street food vendors such as Café Mor and Wild Rover will wait to hear if they are the winners of award categories such as Best of the Best and People’s Choice.

Finalists will be judged on the day by a panel which includes Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers and MeatLiquor’s Yianni Papoutsis with prizes including an advisory session with the team behind Wahaca and an attachment with M&S' New Product Development.

Johnson, chair of the judges, shared his thoughts on why street food has become so popular: “In the midst of a recession, we are coming together to eat in different ways. We just don’t want that starter-main course-dessert set-up any more. We want a bit of this and a bit of that. It’s why pop-up restaurants and supper clubs have been so popular. And it’s why everyone’s now into street food.”

Street food at The Restaurant Show

The growing interest in street food is one of the reasons why this year’s Restaurant Show (8-10 October) will see a host of street food vendors replace the traditional on-site restaurant.

The presence of the Street Food Market at the three-day trade show at Earls Court 2 will enable visitors to try dishes from the legendary street food vendor The Rib Man and from Big Apple Hot Dogs, whose sausages have made it onto the menu at Russell Norman’s restaurant Mishkins. 

Other exhibitors include Sorbitum Ices, You Doughnut, The Bowler, Luardos, Bhangra Burger, Spit & Roast and Green Goat.

“Partnering with successful street food traders will allow us to recognise and celebrate the growth in importance, quality and diversity of street food as part of the foodservice industry,” said Rachel Quigley, event director of The Restaurant Show.

“The change in street food has been dramatic in recent years with gourmet food from mobile kitchens transforming urban spaces and people’s attitude and access to quality, exciting food.”

Street food expert Petra Barran, who has helped bring the Street Food Market, which is sponsored by OpenTable and EcoPure, to life, added: “From my first inroads into street trading back in 2005, I have watched with interest how it has gone from being seen as a rather eccentric lifestyle choice, to being the thing to segue from the office job into.

"All kinds of people are now being drawn into an industry which is gaining momentum in visibility, variety, risk-taking and Britain's evolving food culture. It’s more than just a reaction to the recession or a momentary trend, street food brings with it street life and shakes up our dead urban spaces, creating new sites of conviviality amongst different groups.”

The Restaurant Show will take place from 8-10 October at Earls Court 2, London. To register to attend click here

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