Getting through to the final round or winning a food competition is great, but we can only feel that there is one too many award ceremonies now that they’re losing their value and that the people behind them aren’t really doing it for the right reasons.
Last year we made it through to the south west finals of the British Street Food Awards and having only been trading for 6 months, it was a great bit of recognition and promotion for us especially considering the quality of traders. This year we were offered the chance of a pitch again but unfortunately it clashed with an event we had already booked in, so we chucked our hat in the ring for a couple of other competitions.
The first we entered was Exeter Queen Street’s Find a Foodie competition- where you can win a free pitch to trade from for 3 months, plus some industry expertise, a great prize. We found out that we had made it through to the taste test round with the last handful of applicants and were given a date to compete. Considering the prize, despite only 3 weeks’ notice, we shuffled a few things around to enable us to trade at a pre-booked event and the competition taste test. Despite a frantic effort to sort logistics, ten days before the taste test event we received an email to say ‘many apologies’ but they’re going to have to cancel this event and rearrange. Frustrating, but after it was them to cancel, we assumed they would take entrant feedback to help arrange the next date…nope. A few weeks later we were sent dates but they clashed with pre-booked and prepaid events and there was no way the competition seemed like they were going to be flexible with us, heck they didn’t even respond when we asked if we could do it on a different date.
Next we found out we got to the finalists for best takeaway in the North Devon Journal. A couple days later and a week before the tasting had to be completed, we got a call from them asking if the tasting session could be down that weekend. Being that we were attending River Cottage Music Festival I said that I could get them tickets if they wanted to try some of our food. They came back to us and said that it would be too far to go. I then offered to cook them some things from my home, but got no response and were simply removed as a contender. Though they were the ones who ended up looking a bit silly as they had a huge picture of us in the already printed newspaper!
There was also another festival we decided against applying to because of a clash of events. It later announced it would be hosting ‘Devon Street Food Awards’ at the festival, which the prerequsitie to entry being that you had already applied to this festival without prior knowledge they’d have the competition! I’m sure they had some amazing vendors there, but it’s more like the festivals own awards rather than an award for best trader in the county.
Things turned out well for us as we traded at River Cottage’s festival and the country’s best street food event, Street Food Circus, but it’s all a bit frustrating to put that time and effort into something to feel it wasn’t judged fairly. It’s like putting yourself in a race but someone pulling you out of the race before you get to the finish line. I’m fine not winning, I’m just not fine with not winning on unfair terms.