The big moment finally came for all the finalists of the first ever YBFs last week. Chloe, Lily and Amy managed to pull together an evening that was fun and excessive and full of joy for all the happy winners. The per head drinks quota made me dizzy when it was reeled off to me, but it was the amount of food that was being carried around – often on great long boards, Cleopatra-like, languishing aloft all the adoring hands – that got everyone so geed up.
I barely had a chance to grab any of it as I arrived late (typically) and forced my way to the front to get up on stage with Claire Kelsey (Ginger’s Comfort Emporium) to announce the winner of the Street Food category. A couple of weeks before, we had stood in the shady bitterness of The Hatch, by The Doodle Bar, eating and talking with JP of Elephant Juice Soup, Andy of The Wild Game Co. and Mark of Street Kitchen. It was a hell of a breakfast and a hell of a tough one. How d you choose between such very different ideas and food types?
We went with The Wild Game Co. because of their kilts…. No, really, it was the way they’d brought their family business to a new audience – injecting some of wild Scotland into some not-so-wild parts of London; even devising a bothy for more ways of taking The Highlands to the East End. We liked it, and we liked their food.
They leapt up on that stage in full tweed and kiltage, undeterred by the soaring, Campari-borne temperatures on that hot ‘n humid night. Not only did they win £1000 and a chopping board but, and here was the real coup, they get one year’s free membership of eat.st to go with it. No more waiting list for them – they’re right in (profile up soon). So hold onto your hats and prepare for some new kids in the Collective – serving pigeon salad, venison steaks and other gameyness that brings you over all growly.
Also on the night – a special mention to The Rib Man – our very own town crier and success story of the streets this last year – who won the Honorary award. He was pretty busy, stuffing baps with ribs after that – I had to step in and give the guy a break. Rubber gloves diving into hot pans of picked rib meat, swirling in hot sauce. Felt good.
And not forgetting other eat.streeters representing for good food in the place that night: Anna Mae’s serving their Hushpuppies, Tongue N Cheek with his Porky Subs, and fingers crossed, soon to be joining us (because this is one of the best things I’ve tried in ages), Urban Ices and their homemade lollies of magical flavours.
Great night. Here’s to next year and the continued hunt for greatness in all those nooks and crannies…