Junk: Meet the award-winning Edinburgh street food team

Ahead of their trip to the European Street Food Awards, we talk to award-winning Edinburgh street food pop-up Junk about making a splash in Scotland's food scene

Feature by Peter Simpson | 27 Sep 2022
  • Junk

Our first run-in with the spectacular food from Junk came at one of their very first events at Company Bakery a few months back, and it turns out we aren't alone in being blindsided by some incredibly inventive dishes seemingly appearing out of nowhere. Having transitioned from a website to a street food stall, in the course of just four months and 12 events Junk have managed to win prizes at both the Scottish Street Food Awards in Edinburgh and the British Street Food Awards in London.

Ahead of their spot at the European Street Food Awards in Munich this October – and the opening of a permanent restaurant in Edinburgh the following month – we catch up with the duo behind Junk, Cameron Laidlaw and Jade Watson.

How would you describe a typical dish from Junk?
Something a bit different yet familiar? Sounds wanky but quite true. Every dish we create we try to nail five main points – sweet, salty, sour, soft, crunchy. We're not reinventing the wheel here, just trying to bring the absoulte best out of each ingredient we use and emphasise the flavour combinations.

Junk started off as a blog and website; why did you make the move into street food?
We made the move into street food for one to see if we could replicate what we do on the website for the general public, and to try and build up a bit of publicity for the website. Cam quit his job in January, we really wanted to spend more time together and grow our passion project. With two young kids we also had to do something to make an income – so boom, street food!

You say that Junk only started as a street food venture four months ago; what has been your experience of the Scottish street food scene so far?
Yeah, four months down the line and it's been an absoutle blast! For one thing, the people are fantastic! Huge amount of great people on this side of the industry, very laid-back, helpful and really good natured! I think the Scottish street food scene is really about to kick off. We are a wee bit behind the Americas and Asia but we have a fantastic larder with so much opportunity to showcase what Scottish street food can be.

You’ve had a fair amount of success, winning the Scottish and British Street Food Awards. What’s your reaction to that – has it been a surprise, or were you always confident of making a bit of a splash?
We knew we were going to make a splash but never expected us to end up British champions! It's mental. We heard about the awards at our first ever gig and applied on a bit of a whim. Whatever point you are in your street food venture we recommend you apply. It gave us a fantastic platform to reach a wider audience and book a lot more gigs.

Overall we're just really happy about winning. Never won anything in our lives and to win back-to-back competitions, it's class!

Tonkatsu Sando

You’re going to the European Street Food Awards in October – what do you have planned for Munich?
Stressing. Mostly stressing. But really, we are doing four dishes which have proven our most popular over the various events: soft shell crab kaarage, kimchi & BBQ gem lettuce with white crab meat from Port Seton; roast bockwurst wrapped in pomme puree and potato string with our take on chippy curry sauce; a tonkatsu chicken sando; and our potato dish, 'The Spanish Armada.' Crispy potatoes, black garlic, slow-roast pork belly and sobrasada espuma. Just going to get over there and show Europe what Scotland can offer!

Tell us a little bit about your plans for the new restaurant – what can people expect once you open?
We are super excited to be opening Junk at a permanent location. We will be upping our food game – similar indulgent dishes but utilising our fine dining background with more intricate plating. We really believe food is the heart of bringing people together so expect to have plentiful plates to share with friends and family and lots of quirky beverages to match. Music has taken up a great portion of our lives and we really want to integrate that into the scene. Good drinks, good food, good music – what more could you want?