Street Food Awards 2014 – south-east heat June 14th @ Street Diner

A few weeks ago I wrote about the upcoming south-east heat of the British Street Food Awards 2014 at Street Diner, which, incidentally, has just recently turned one – happy birthday SD!

If you want to be part of the action you MUST attend the event on June 14th at Brighthelm Garden, Queens Road Brighton. You’ll need to download the app to cast your vote. The votes will be counted on the day so get involved – bring your mum, dad, your sisters, brothers, great-aunts and uncles – anyone with opposable thumbs and a smartphone!

This is your opportunity to be heard, people! Show your support on Facebook, Twitter and spread the word. remembering to use #BSFA in all your posts…so c’mon, what are you waiting for?!

Street Diner Street Food Awards Poster

#BSFA SE Heat 2014

Anyway, with just two weeks to go until the big event, it’s about time I let you all in on my choices…

*drum roll please*

In no particular order, my top picks are:

  • The Troll’s Pantry – in my opinion the troll is responsible for the gourmet burger trend that’s hit Brighton in the last couple of years. I wasn’t even mad keen on burgers before I tried one of his but I’m hooked for life. Sourcing local ingredients wherever possible (probably about 99.9% of the time) he creates mouthwatering concoctions such as The Shaman and along with his minions, takes enormous pride in his work, which really shows. The Troll’s Pantry also accommodates the gluten free gang, of which I’m a long-standing member, so his (much-appreciated) efforts to get more local traders onboard with Sussex Bread Company’s wares confirms his spot in my top three.
  • Toston Tolon prior to Toston Tolon’s arrival at Street Diner, I’d never heard of the Venezuelan Arepa before. Oh boy, was I in for a treat! This little maize flatbread makes a refreshing change to the (highly respectable) Mexican corn tortilla. My favourite is the pulled pork (no surprise there) piled high with black beans and plantain (a favourite fruit of mine that sends me back to my childhood, eating Ghanaian treats at my best friend’s house). Toston Tolon is a worthy contender, I think you’ll agree.
  • Little Blue Smokehouse – these guys had me at “salted chocolate bacon”… Purveyors of smoked delights, they cater to my carnivorous cravings and then some. Keep your eyes on Twitter for their under the counter treats, but shhh! Don’t tell anyone, they’re TOP SECRET! I can’t wait to get my mitts on some pork cheeks and kimchi soon.

I thought long and hard about this, and it really was tricky to whittle it down, but I take my judging role very seriously and whittle I did! In fact, I take this judging business so seriously it shows – Hammer & Tongue even picked me for a judge at their recent Fringe event with Scroobius Pip and Hollie McNish at Komedia Brighton!

But I digress.

Our lovely local traders need YOU! There’s only three things you need to do:

  1. Download the app
  2. Come to Street Diner on 14th June, Brighthelm Garden, Queens Road, Brighton
  3. VOTE!

See you there x

Review: Bar-B-Q Shack @ Worlds End Pub, Brighton

Bar-B-Q Shack Bacon Burrito

Sometime last year (I run a tight ship, me!) I happened to post this on Twitter. To my absolute, unadulterated glee Bar-B-Q Shack picked up the Tweet and got in touch to say that they would make one for me. Yep, my very own bacon burrito; the dream! Everyone who knows me on or offline is all too aware of my obsession with all things porcine (I have pork and piggie tattoos and EVERYTHING…it’s borderline pathological, and I’m probably downplaying it a touch).

So off I popped to Worlds End with the lovely Street Diner ladies for a jolly good night, set to the backdrop of the famous pub quiz, which even I daren’t enter. I barely knew a single answer..and I’m pretty smart! I’ve always been somewhat dubious about the venue, as it always seemed to be a den of drunks (it’s a pub you silly bint, I hear you scoff!), but it’s really rather lovely inside. A large space that manages to give off cosy, Brooklyn-esque vibe, full of colourful Brighton types without pretention.

I scuttled up to the bar behind my companions (I’ve always found the Twitter-”real life” crossover rather awkward despite having previously run a Tweetup for some time) and met John, the mind, body and soul behind Bar-B-Q Shack. WHAT. A. GUY. John is the guy you WANT cooking your meaty treats. A big hunk of culinary love, he instantly endeared himself to me (though he didn’t need to try, he’d already won me over on Twitter!). He regaled us with tales of his *incredibly* colourful life and his upcoming Berlin adventure (check his Twitter for details) as well as providing insightful information about how he runs his kitchen.

And then the magic happened. In my mouth. Oh yes (stop it you filthmongers!). Soft, squidgy, salty…I said stop it! The bacon weave burrito is truly magnificent. Housing egg, potato, sausage and cheese it was a blissful match, accompanied by a trio of mouth-watering dips (guacamole, sour cream and of course, BBQ sauce). It took A LOT of willpower to take a photo before devouring it. As a bonus, John also brought out some pulled pork spring rolls. I die. Seriously. Writing this, I’m actually getting the shakes. MUST. GO. BACK. 

Bar-B-Q Shack Pulled Pork Spring Rolls

If you don’t believe me, check out this review by Jay Rayner, he’s a big fan too. And of course, head down to The World’s End and thank me later. Preferably with some Bar-B-Q Shack treats…

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When does exclusion become discrimination?

In 2010 I suffered redundancy; and long-term unemployment is an on-going issue. Whilst I am technically unemployed, I am trying to carve out a new career for myself in the world of digital media.

Far from resting on my laurels, I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time travelling (in the vain hope things would improve), and since my return to the UK have been toiling away at finding a new job in a new career. Alongside the ‘dreaded job hunt’ I have been carving out a small, but consistent client base for whom I am consulting on their social media and event management requirements. Add to that a bi-monthly live music night and my work calendar is bulging healthily (unlike my bank balance). It is useful to mention to the reader, at this juncture, that the work I am undertaking is all pro bono – for now at least.

I understand that job market is it an all-time low, and that whilst it’s the perfect time for me to change career path, I have relatively little work experience in the field I wish to migrate to (approximately six months communications and website management experience at the end of my last role as a PA), and therefore working purely to portfolio and for free, is necessary. Although this is unsustainable in the long-term, for now, it serves my purpose (not to mention keeps me from climbing the walls in boredom!).

Whilst this post is essentially about the struggle for employment, I want to focus on one key area – the obstacles faced by the out-of-work-force in battling social and professional exclusion.  It’s certainly not the first time this has come to my attention, but recently it has become more relevant than ever.  I’m certainly not alone in my current predicament, and with over two and a half people unemployed in the UK, it’s hardly surprising we’re having to become more creative and giving of ourselves.

This is why it seems ludicrous to me, for certain bodies/companies not to offer discounts to benefit claimants, alongside the discounts given to students, retirees, and often, disabled.  I’m not suggesting this should be legislative or adopted by all, but those within the employment and training sector could really benefit those seeking new avenues into employment, and themselves, by including a discount for benefit claimants. With public funds being cut so severely, many back-to-work initiatives, such as travel assistance, have fallen by the wayside, and housing benefit levels have reduced, meaning many people have to also use part of their weekly living allowance to supplement their rent. This is no mean feat given the prescribed benefit entitlement for over job-seekers over 25 is £67.50 per week – there is precious little room for manoeuvre within such a tight budget.

There are various free networking events in my local area I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, but every now and then an event pops up I would immensely benefit from, but is out of my reach for financial reasons.  I’m not talking about great, expensive corporate affairs, but smaller, perhaps local events, that offer discounts to all but the unemployed. The fact the pricing is so fair to begin with is fantastic, of course, but when trying to carve out a new direction, learn new skills, and/or gain a great understanding of the field you’re in or wish to become part of, but are not considered, is a real blow. Especially when it’s so tantalisingly close, yet still out of reach – we’re talking a difference of tens of pounds, which to me, at this point in my life, is the difference between feeding myself vaguely healthily, or living off noodles (which I can’t eat due to the wheat content), for a week!

Am I splitting hairs? If I had a job that paid me any semblance of a wage, I’d say yes, I am, but the fact remains there are so many people unemployed who truly want to return to work, and improve their skills and understanding of different sectors, that are being blocked again and again by not being able to afford to do so. I don’t believe the onus is solely on the government; the private sector must also rally to improve the chances of those two and half million people, of which I am one. Of course I expect my social life to fall by the wayside whilst on benefits, I don’t expect anyone but myself to fund that, but to be denied opportunities into employment? Where’s the logic in that? The business world seems intent on polarising, or perhaps they simply haven’t thought about it. Either way, I can tell you from the 99%’s perspective, exclusion feels very much like discrimination.

I already feel socially excluded; I don’t want to be excluded from my career too. Like many others, am doing everything I can to improve my situation, sustain my life (in the most literal sense of the word) and continue towards my goal with as little damage to my CV as possible. I’d just like some encouragement, you know?