We speak to 2019 finalist, Daniel Newton, head chef for an ISS site in Northampton.
Why did you enter the awards?
I focus a lot on street food at my unit and wanted a chance to showcase what I do.
Street food has become so broad, how did you decide what to cook?
My main, dish comprised sticky crispy peanut chicken, fried rice, seaweed, pork and shrimp wontons, lemongrass and chai iced tea. This dish was created to show my love of Asian flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques. Asian is quite a broad term, but I played around fusing Chinese and Korean together, along with a Japanese influence.
How do you stay calm under pressure when competing?
I haven’t done any competition work for seven years, but I really enjoy a little bit of pressure, plus I knew how good my dish tasted.
Why has street food become so popular?
It’s always been big and available, I just feel it has now become more mainstream. When you offer great tasting food in an environment that is enjoyable, trendy and entertaining, what’s not to love?
How do you get street food onto your menus at work?
Different styles of street food come from all corners of the world, giving me a huge scope for variety. I personally love learning and mastering flavour profiles and key techniques in order to achieve authentic dishes. I’m big on current food trends and, along with my team. try to innovate in our menus.
What affect has it had on contract catering?
It’s changed the way our customers eat and approach our services. Street food now caters for all options. Once thought of as a quick, unhealthy meal, we now focus on wellbeing, balanced options, whether savoury or sweet, with clean and fresh flavours.
With most of our offers, we can also set up in different locations outside of the restaurant, which adds to the experience and customer journey.
Did you enjoy the competition?
I loved it, it was really well organised, relaxed yet professional. The competition operated at a really high level and pushed street food to the next step.
What’s next in the world of street food?
We have been doing an internal road show tour around all our UK sites with my two finalist dishes, showcasing the dishes in a pop-up style street food environment, while also creating it with the teams on site.