A couple of months ago, the brilliant Regeneration Officer at Hackney put me in touch with the manager at Fifteen. “They want to put a street party on and they need help with the food traders”, I was told. An introductory meeting later at Fifteen and Jacques and I were all fired up and setting a date. The theme would be Fifteen’s 10th Birthdays Celebrations and the focus would be on Fifteen Family and local-to-the-East End eat.st traders.
We would close the street – Westland Place - outside Fifteen and fill it with 10 of our best East End slingers, music, kids entertainment, a bar and stalls from Fifteen, Fifteen Cornwall and Barbecoa, as well as the massive truck that is The Cock & Cider. Now the big day is only one week away and we’re all set – FUN and great food are the focus and everyone is invited!
Our traders are: Red Herring Smokehouse, The Rib Man, Banh Mi 11, The Bowler, Mussel Men, Healthy Yummies, Big Apple Hot Dogs, Toma Mexicano, Yum Bun and Westonbirt Ice Cream. I get dizzy thinking about the levels of deliciousness in that group. They’re there all day though, so chances are you’ll be able to get around a few…
Think of it – smoked chicken, moules-frites, pan-seared scallops, Mexican flautas, gourmet meatballs, pillow-soft steamed buns, banh mi, real hot dogs, hot smoked ribs and incredible ice cream + cupcakes from Crumbs & Doilies!
This is the first time that eat.st has collaborated with a restaurant - and a group of them at that. It was actually through meeting a load of the chefs from Barbecoa one night at Street Feast that I had a change of heart re. my previous reservations about ‘getting into bed with the restaurants’. They were all so excited about the delights that abounded from some of our traders, there on the night. I have always been a bit wary of why some of the big, established restaurants wanted to get involved with the streets – thinking of them as one mass of bandwagon jumpers who would be onto the next thing as soon as something else caught their eye.
Then I checked my attitude and noticed how fired-up so many chefs were about the prospect, through getting involved with the streets, of actually seeing who was eating their food and having the satisfaction of seeing their enjoyment. Like Bea (of Bloomsbury) said to me recently “You have to really love what you do to be a chef because there are some serious downsides”. And I thought about why I have thrown myself so hard into this industry – it’s because of two things really: The pulling together of great, like-minded people to serve food on our streets – critical mass making more headway than scattered individuals; and the quest to transform our outdoor spaces and bring strangers together through the attraction of great, accessible food. My stance now is that whoever has that lust for the above is who we should be embracing – from the hardcore traders who live and breath the culture of the streets, to the career-changers who want to do something they can touch, taste and feel, to any amazing chef out there who wants to be part of a whole new side of what they love.
When we have all of this food, all of these people, and anyone else who likes to collaborate on shared space – from all parts of the food world, making great things happen – then we know that the British food culture is well on its way to a new evolution, and it fires us up!
The #fifteeneatstreetparty will run from 11am-5pm next Saturday 30th June – Westland Place, N1 7LP (Just near to Old Street)
Come hungry and ready for fun.
There will be pasta-making classes upstairs.
Jamie will be there too….
Bring all the food fans you know!