Hero Worship: Richard Johnson on Heston Blumenthal

The British Street Food Awards have been taking in regional heats around the country on the run-up to the ceremony in Leeds in September – founder Richard Johnson tells us why his dream judge would be his hero, Heston Blumenthal

Feature by Jamie Faulkner | 18 Sep 2014

I don’t know how it happened. But happen it did. And, to make matters worse, it happened on a cookery show – in front of a live studio audience.

Heston Blumenthal, the most creative chef in the world, was cooking me smoked scallops. They were meant to taste like they had wafted in on a breeze of lavender. Instead they tasted like an old lady’s underwear drawer. I spat them out.

A lesser chef would have swanned off, but not Heston. All he was interested in was whether, next time, the scallops would work better with tangerine.

We were younger then. Heston had just the one jacket – now he’s got 25. And he’s gone from an oddbod (admittedly, an oddbod who ran the world’s Number One restaurant, but an oddbod nonetheless) to a national treasure. He’s got two critically-acclaimed restaurants – the Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – and a string of hit TV shows to his name. He’s even got his own range in Waitrose. But food is still central to everything he does – which is why he loves street food. This is what he said in GQ: 'In a Britain that is fascinated by food, street eating has become a whole movement. It is not only delicious, but it's brilliantly creative and good quality and celebrates our eccentricities. Fabulously decorated vans are popping up throughout the country at farmers' markets, festivals and events.'

And I’m trying to get him to come and judge the British Street Food Awards in Leeds in September. If he says yes, I’ll know he’s really, really, really forgiven me for the smoked scallops.

The North heat of the British Street Food Awards, hosted by Guerrilla Eats, takes place 14 Jun at Old Granada Studios, Manchester, 6pm, free

Read our Q&As with some of the traders taking part online at theskinny.co.uk/food