By Gillian McPherson
Not so long ago the idea of street food in Scotland conjured up nothing more than images of greasy, poor quality burgers and soggy chips. But not anymore. Over the last few years, the country’s street food scene has undergone a revolution and now a whole host of specialist vendors have emerged to serve up their take on everything from artisan pizza to tempura battered king prawns, loaded sweet potato fries, and even creme brûlée.
And while lucky foodies have been able to indulge in these delights at festivals, fairs and other events around the country for a while now, until recently street food traders have lacked a recurring – and (crucially) more weather resistant base in Glasgow. Luckily, however, some of the most successful street food businesses have cottoned onto this need and decided to take matters into their own hands.
“We are traders and we were looking for markets to trade in, which was getting more and more difficult, especially because they’re weather dependent,” said Jonathan Stipanovsky, owner of Firedog gourmet hot dogs. “So we teamed up with Street Food Putter Club and Charlie Mills Coffee. Got together over a couple of coffees funnily enough and decided we were going to create our own market.”
After searching extensively for a suitable location, the group partnered up with children’s charity Glasgow the Caring City and worked together to turn their idea into a reality. “From being traders ourselves, we went about this creating something we’d want to go to to ourselves. We tried to raise it a notch and make it professional,” adds Jonathan.
The glorious result is the Big Feed Street Food Social, Glasgow’s first fully licensed indoor street food hub. The event has grown in size since its launch in March and for two weekends every month it now brings together some of the finest street food vendors Scotland has to offer.
Each event plays host to an interesting array of stalls as well as some pretty quirky food and drink vans, including Charlie Mill’s inspired horse box turned espresso bar, which serves up a rich shot of coffee any bar in Milan would be proud of (as well as a pretty impressive espresso martini). There are also usually a couple of pop up bars for those after a cool beer or something else a little more refreshing to help wash down their feast. Together with its setting in a Govan warehouse, replete with fairy lights, hanging lamps and a healthy dose of decent and often live music, the Big Feed really is the perfect recipe for a chilled Saturday afternoon in Glasgow.
Generally the mix of vendors is not always the same, but some of those who are regulars or have featured before include creme brulee masters Creme Caravan, Shrimp Shipwreck, Burrito, artisan pizza makers Luti’s Wood Burning Oven, Daffy’s Gin, The Prosecco Tap, the Buffalo Truck, WEST Brewery, vegan inspired Freddy and Hicks, Luce del Sole ice cream and cake lovers dream, the Travelling tearoom.
With such a consistently varied and high calibre of choice, you’ll never be disappointed, but it also means that it is difficult to know where to start. Founders and Big Feed regulars Fire Dog with their smoked sausages smothered in toppings such as crispy bacon, jalapeno cheese sauce and pulled pork are, however, always a good bet. As is the Buffalo Truck when it makes an appearance with its classic buttermilk fried chicken burger with black garlic mayo and pickles. The Edinburgh based company recently picked up first place at the inaugural Scottish Street Food Awards and after trying their tender, melt-in the mouth, American style chicken its not hard to see why.
Yet while these American style favourites are undoubtedly some of the standouts of the Scottish street food scene at the moment, for those on the look out for something a bit different, the great thing about the Big Feed is that it usually tends to deliver on that front too. Take Mimi’s Takoyaki Shop for example. The Glasgow based business certainly has to be of the more unusual stalls ever to grace the Big Feed with its authentic Japanese offering of steaming hot octopus dumplings.
Alternatively, another unique and internationally inspired option, which will likely reappear at Big Feed events in the near future is the Prague Shack. Another SSJ Awards nominee, this purveyor of Czech cuisine is quickly building a solid following for its unique menu of Eastern European favourites such as goulash and chicken schnitzel with a Scottish twist.
Unsurprisingly given these options, the Big Feed’s popularity has grown immensely over the past few months as the venue has filled a void and helped the city catch up, to some extent at least, with other major European cities, such as Copenhagen, home of a massive indoor street food hub since 2014.
“Street food is fun, it’s accessible, it’s new, and you get a chance to try new food you might not have tried before, in an informal setting,” added Jonathan commenting on the Big Feed’s rise. “There’s a huge market in every capital city in the UK and Europe for it at the minute. The power of social media has also been incredible, we’ve had a huge turnout. It’s been great.”
Glasgow might have taken a bit longer than most to give the street food revolution a home, but after enjoying several fun afternoons at the Big Feed over the past few months, one thing’s for sure – it has definitely been worth the wait.
Watch our video from the Big Feed, with interviews from owner of Firedog and Big Feed co-founder Jonathan Stipanovsky and owner of Luti’s Wood Burning Oven, Martin Luti.
Keen to check it out for yourself? The Big Feed returns to Govan on the following dates…
How to get there
The Big Feed is on Govan Road opposite the Hub and can be easily reached from Cessnock subway station, which is a ten minute walk away.