A shout out for London street food 2013
Happy new year everyone.
If street food hasn’t yet conquered London, it has done a darn good job of getting around the city.
In 2012, new spaces were set up and used to hold street food parties, for example at the West Handyside Canopy in Kings Cross where Petra Barran held her night-long launch party and a host of others for Kerb.
Lost or forgotten spaces were re-claimed by people who had the guts and creative drive to make events happen in them. Take Dominic Cools-
Meanwhile on the cobbled street outside his Fifteen restaurant, Jamie Oliver let the British Street Food Awards 2012 take over; the founders of the weekend-long Feast markets re-imagined spaces outside Guy’s Hospital and more recently in Islington’s Former North London Mail Centre. Harringay Market has also been gathering momentum at North Harringay Primary School and I saw the beginnings of a street food market held outside Shepherd’s Bush station on a few mornings last year.
Finally existing markets were boosted – for example on Berwick Street in Soho and the new Acklam Village market at the end of the Portobello Road market. New traders bringing with them fresh ideas and interesting, delicious food were added to the roster, giving a renewed interest in those areas*. Borough Market now has its smart glass roof to keep visitors and people warm and the ever-lovely Ropewalk at Maltby Street market has the recent addition of Sunday trading. The Southbank’s Real Food Market began a new weekly spot encouraging a different street food truck to trade each week, Chatsworth Road continues to take on and put out interesting traders, as do Broadway market, Battersea Food Market and Venn Street in Clapham.
So when trend spotters all wrote street food as something to watch in 2012, they weren’t wrong. It has become more than just a trend. Chefs who saw opportunities to make excellent, carefully-priced food to a new audience quit busy kitchens to take on market trading. Some folk in search of a break switched careers and choose the street food industry to launch new ventures. And, importantly, a few people from overseas chose London as the place to start a culinary career on the road.
As for LondonStreetFoodie.co.uk, which launched almost a year ago, I would never have imagined that over 35,000 of you would take the time and effort to click on and read the blog. I am enormously proud and grateful to everyone who has helped – from sorting technical emergencies to sending in suggestions and providing photos. Please keep emailing and commenting with your ideas as it’s great to know what people are eating. And don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter, accessed on the home page. We have exciting news for 2013 but more on that in a month or so…
While this city has much to offer, it wasn’t all good. A few traders were lost along the way, struggling to make ends meet either as full time sellers or with career bolt-ons at weekends. It is still too hard for others to get started and to find spaces to sell their food in London. Next year we need more spaces for traders, lower pitch prices in some cases, and, on Petra Barran’s suggestion, we need the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to take street food seriously.
To end, a few things to try this year:
COMING SOON: Basque-inspired small plates from the Donostia Social Club (markets pending)
NEW AND WORTH A MUNCH: a haggis toastie made with caramelised onion chutney, mustard and cheese by Carol from Deeney’s (Broadway, Chatsworth Road, Greenwich markets)
PERSONAL FAVOURITES: The heartbreaker burger from Tongue ‘N Cheek, Fleischmob’s pork schnitzel sandwich, any dessert made by Sorbitium Ices, any pasta from Pasta e Basta for top pasta, anything from Mike & Ollie and the chorizo sandwich from Brindisa’s Parrilla Grill at Borough market.
FRIENDLIEST SELLERS: the team behind the delicious Venezuelan arepas made by Guasacaca London is infectiously happy. Their food is fresh and simple.
Here’s to more strEATing in London in 2013.
*I don’t have specific figures to show this – it is purely that I have noticed more people visiting the markets and increased activity on Twitter relating to those places