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Cooking up a food revolution at Festival Street Kitchen
THE street food revolution has arrived in Basingstoke’s Festival Place – thanks to an independent businessman chef who hails from Whitchurch.
The food phenomenan is already well established in places like Covent Garden and Borough Market in London, where street vendors serve up all sorts of culinary delights.
Now, Jeff Williams has opened Festival Street Kitchen, in Festival Square, where each day he offers three or four delicious dishes, cooked in front of punters.
The food is certainly no ordinary fare – it includes dishes like Warm Roasted Beef Tiger Bread Sandwich With Watercress and Horseradish, Green Thai Chicken Curry with Crunchy Oriental Salad, and Turkish Lamb Kebabs and Red Onion with a Mint and Honey Yoghurt – but they are good value.
Jeff said: “We are using seasonal produce sourced from local producers, which we’ll then cook very simply – it’s all very affordable as everything is under £5.”
Also on offer will be half portions for youngsters along with little hot dogs for £1.50.
“We are trying to make it a family-friendly environment that will cater for all tastes and budgets, while challenging the bigger fast food chains,” explained Jeff, an accomplished chef who won a scholarship to work under celebrity restaurateur Gary Rhodes in London.
Jeff places great store on good quality ingredients from the likes of Laverstoke Park Farm, where, for example, he sources mozzarella cheese for his Sun Blushed Tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella and Sweet Basil Salad.
And he is also keen to buy seasonal ingredients directly from other local smallholders, whether it is honey from someone’s garden or herbs from an allotment.
“We want to be known for the different dishes we do,” said Jeff – and he is open to suggestions. “We’ve been asked to do pie, mash and liquor, which we plan to start offering after September.”
In the run-up to Christmas, Jeff has plans to transform his unit into a German Chalet, offering bratwurst sausages and Weissbier, along with mince pies and mulled wine.
“The great advantage I have got is flexibility, so I can change through the seasons,” said Jeff.
“Throughout the summer, we are offering hog roast, and every Saturday we have Paella, where we give a free cup of sangria, while on Sunday, we do a couple of big pan curries with our own home-made nan bread.
Also on offer is delicious New Forest Ice Cream, served from a 1930s ice cream bike.”
Jeff’s enthusiasm is infectious but he has a lot at stake in the business venture, having sold a thriving wedding catering operation called The Fat Hog at the end of last year.
“We’ve put our eggs in one basket financially and emotionally,” said Jeff, who ran The Fat Hog as a weekend operation as at the time he was a stay-at-home father looking after his two young sons, Freddie and Hugo.
“I was going mad and wanted to get back to full-time work,” admitted Jeff, who now finds he is unable to switch off from his new venture, working seven days a week.
Delighted to welcome Jeff and Festival Street Kitchen, Festival Place centre director Steven Connolly said: “We are constantly looking at ways to expand the range of food available to customers and we feel Festival Street Kitchen helps us do that.
“As a local entrepreneur, we want to give Jeff and his team the support they deserve, and I am sure his restaurant will be a great success.”
To find out what is on the menu three days in advance, visit Jeff’s blackboard menu style website at festivalstreetkitchen.com.
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