I’ve just written an article on street food with ‘sustainable’ cred that featured in the most recent issue of Quench magazine and on The British Street Food Awards website. If you’ve been watching The Apprentice (The British Street Food Awards made an appearance on last weeks episode) or reading The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/apr/24/top-10-london-street-food-stalls you’ll know that the street-food revolution has begun and it’s spreading itself all over the Isles. So get in on the action!
I love street food. It’s fresh, quick, no-fuss food which costs a tenth of the stuff you find in restaurants. And there’s never this ‘queue for a table’ malarkey, because quite simply, there are no tables. Whether you’re pulling up to a roadside stall in North Thailand for a dried-fish snack, swigging oysters at Borough Market, or being hankered at from left, right and centre by traders in Marrakech offering ‘the best tagine in town’, there’s always enough street for everyone to enjoy their food. So when I arrived as a student in Cardiff three years ago, I was blown away by its thriving street-food scene: the stuff, it appears, making Wales the best home nation when it comes to ethical and sustainable eating.
One of the key figures in the city’s growing street-food frenzy is Deri Reed (above). He’s a local trader who works to bring better, more sustainable and ethical food to the Welsh public. You can’t step into a vegetarian restaurant without hearing his nickname – The Ethical Chef. During the week, Deri works on Blaencamel Farm in South Wales in exchange for produce to supply his stall at the Riverside Market in Cardiff. His is the first stall in Wales to be accredited by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and it’s here that he becomes ‘The Ethical Chef’, cooking up food that is healthy (albeit the Beetroot and Chocolate Cake is a slice of gluttony), vegetarian and sourced within a 50 mile radius. Now he’s getting mobile. By travelling to his customers, he’s generating much less waste and emitting fewer greenhouse gases than if they were all to travel to him.
Steve Garrett, Riverside Community Market Association’s (RCMA) chairperson, plans to deliver ethical and sustainable street-food to more and more people in and around Cardiff. Like ‘The Ethical Chef’, Steve and his team have plans to create a travelling street food van, that distributes not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but ready-meals made from organic ingredients, sourced from Welsh farms and local businesses, which can be parked at the end of just about any street in Cardiff. His vision is to create a real movement towards street-food, similar to the one which has already begun in places such as Los Angeles. The task, Steve says, is really very simple: ‘All we need to do, as a community, is reclaim our public spaces. Think of St Mary Street in the city centre. The whole place has recently been renovated and would be perfect for a collection of street-food stalls. And that’s what RCMA plan to do.”
And it’s not just in Cardiff. It’s everywhere. I visited Abergavenny Food Festival last September and met the winners of last year’s British Street Food Awards: Café Mor. They’re dedicated to supplying seashore foraged ingredients and fresh local seafood from the Pembrokeshire coast at markets and festivals across the country; in London, Squid And Pear, the first street-food stall to be acknowledged by the SRA, deliver ‘top-notch seasonal and sustainable catering’ to just about anywhere in the UK; and in Bristol there is a FREE street-food market taking place in Quakers Friars in Bristol’s Cabot Circus On May 18-20. Ten of the Uk’s finest street food vendors from London to Manchester will be there, including Big Apple Hot Dogs, Jalopy Pizza, The Hungry Gecko – A Masterchef finalist specialising in vegetarian Asian street food and What the Dickens – a stall run by a trio of charismatic gents offering traditional British dishes, from devilled kidneys to kedgeree. Alongside the street-food fest, Colston Hall will also host a live stage, showcasing some of Bristol’s best new music talent from local folk to world and acoustic. Now if that’s not “street” ( urban dictionary definition: “awesone”, “fly”) then I don’t know what is…