"Our amazing judges expect excellence, but will look for something extra”, says Richard Johnson, founder of the British Street Food Awards. “Whether that’s ground-breaking flavour combinations, creativity with familiar staples, or taking amazing Scottish produce and sprinkling it with a bit of magic”.
This year’s Scottish Street Food Awards - the first regional heat in this competition - will take place at The Pitt in Edinburgh, from June 25-27.
At the top table, there will also be Ailidh Forlan, author of Street Food Scotland, and Campbell Mickel of the capital’s Merienda and Eddie’s Seafood Market.
“Edinburgh’s street food scene continues to go from strength to strength; with so many street food pop-ups popping up, especially over lockdown, we are spoilt for choice”, says Ralston. “There are wonderful cuisines on offer, from Peruvian to traditional toasties and vegan snacks. I was thrilled to be asked to be a judge as I love street food, and regularly stop off to try something new.”
They will have to test the wares of this year’s shortlist of 13, which include Gallus Streetfood, Moskito, spice lovers Free the Chilli, Soulfull, Taberu, The Peruvian, Antojitos Truck, who serve Mexican food – including a seitan quesedilla - from a vintage Ford truck, Fat Flamingo (who call themselves “global food curators”), Pakora Explorer, Rost, Chicken Scoops, Barnacles ‘n’ Bones and Dundonian purveyors of macaroni cheese, Mac Love.
Although the list is usually rather Edinburgh and Glasgow-centric, last year’s winner of a virtual take on the competition was Stag Bites the Hog, who serve smoked meats from their retro Citroen van, and are based in Stirling.
In 2019, it was pizza favourites, Wanderers Kneaded, who usually park their truck up by Edinburgh’s Meadows. They went on to compete in the British Street Food Awards final, where they won Best Snack for their Sweet Fire pizza, which was topped by figs, nduja, an “exploded burratina” and organic hot honey.
The winner of this year’s Scottish heat, which is open to the public and £3 on the door, will go on to compete against three other regions’ winners at the Freedom Festival in Hull on September 3-7. In their bid to be sustainable, it will be a zero waste final, with no sweaty polystyrene containers.
Hopefully, this event will be something positive for traders, after a tricky time.
"For street food in general, I would say that the last year has been a massive headache”, says Johnson. “ A lot of them work around offices, and rely on a busy lunch service. But with office workers dialing in from home, the market has all but disappeared. Plus, as owner-operated businesses, a lot of traders have fallen through the cracks of governmental support. But now that we are eating outdoors at markets like The Pitt, where all the relevant protocols are observed, it should be one of the safest ways to get together. Plus a bit of sun on your back or rain in your face makes all food taste better, especially when you’re working your way through the best traders in Scotland”.