Back in October of last year, a few of us had congregated in the car park of Brent Cross shopping centre. It seemed like a good idea at the time: thousands of weekend shoppers would result in a bustling street food market for all if only a fraction of them filtered out to the well-worn tarmac. Unfortunately the psychology of the mall shopper is not such that it would follow on for them to break out of indoor mode and chain restaurants to get wet outside. It bombed. But like all disastrous events it gave all the traders a good opportunity to catch up with each other and eat loads of each others food.
Richard Johnson, creator of the British Street Food Awards, was damned if he was going to let the ship sink so he appropriated an A-board and tried his hand at sign-writing. Seeing him struggling with the look and feel I waded in with my bright chalk pens – which I usually do this with:
…and offered to help. I can’t say that this soon got the car park party hopping and the mall-rats darting out looking for outdoor deliciousness, but it did prompt Johnson to ask me if I’d like to do something similar for his upcoming book on British street food. I was delighted to be asked – and then when I found out that Jake Tilson would be designing it I was all over it like gravy.
My handwriting would be turned into the title font for the book and I was asked to supply various versions of different titles, as well as different versions of the alphabet. Over and over I wrote it all…
…and then posted on to Jake for him to weave his magic on Photoshop. The end result is throughout the book, as well as being on the front cover:
And that’s all lovely. But the real thrill of the book is the stories that it unearths of the personalities behind many of Britain’s favourite ‘mobilers’. Johnson probes into everyone’s history to work out what made them list towards this world of uncertainty and itinerancy. When he interviewed me for the section on Choc Star I mused on how this industry attracts gamblers and free-wheelers – because you can never be sure whether you’re going to smash it or bomb it. This in turn creates a feisty, gung-ho lot – and certainly the inspiration for us having started eat.st.
If you’re curious about the street trading life – or a fan of the food you’ve had on them there pavements, head to Amazon to buy it and get deep into those recipes – from Healthy Yummies’ unbelievable pan-seared scallops to my never before released ultra fudge brownie recipe. Other eat.st traders featured in it include , The Meatwagon, Banh Mi 11, Ca Phe VN, Churros Bros, Creperie Nicholas, and Lulabelle’s.
Great pics, great stories, amazing recipes and all poured into a highly mobile size. We love it and are proud to be included.