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Friday Food Fight at Upper Campfield Market

David Blake speaks to co-founder Will Evans about MCR's new 'turbo-charged food event'

Written by . Published on February 25th 2014.

Friday Food Fight at Upper Campfield Market

Call it what you will, but this dirty, DIY, trash, street food, scran-out-the-back-of-a-van pick it up and plonk it anywhere you like guv’nor foodie trend has really grown wings in the past year or so.

"That's the beauty of events like Friday Food Fight. Get together a gang of fantastic cooks and let them show off. Throw in exciting drinks and great DJs and you've got a perfect night."

Friday Food FightFriday Food FightYou can barely walk through Manchester without tripping over some former home cook or frustrated graduate selling kidney kebabs out of the boot of a car. I can see two such street food vendors in Spinningfields from the Confidential window as I type this (Mumma Schnitzel is a good'un).

Of course, street food is nothing new. Homer famously used to pop out for Leon’s Legumes while thrashing out The Illiad. There’s been the same bloke in a van pulling meat patties from a fag-yellow brine puddle outside Grimsby’s Blundell Park for a quarter of a century now. Think he’s called Gary.

Either way, street food has been around since we first cobbled together a cart (three weeks after the wheel was invented) – the thing is – street food has been sexed up, and more importantly, it's come good. In some cases excellent.

Will Evans, co-founder of B.Eat StreetWill Evans, co-founder of B.Eat Street

Will Evans is one-half of B.Eat Street (the other-half being Chris Legh, currently bar consultant at Parklife), the Manchester-based duo behind Friday Food Fight, a new 12-week series of events beginning on Friday 7 March and running for twelve consecutive Fridays.

Held within the wonderfully cavernous late-1870s Victorian Upper Campfield market hall on Deansgate (that big old grey one across from the Beetham Tower... behind Dimitris and Don Marcos... on Liverpool Road... yeah that's the one), the Friday Food Fight will be bring around ten vendors in each week accompanied by bars and DJs for 'one big turbo-charged food court'.

Among the bigger names confirmed are Nutters, Solita, Lucha Libre, Umezsushi, Ning, Reds True BBQ and Yang Sing who'll be battling out amongst other smaller-scale vendors like Diamond Dogs, Bobbys Bangers, Piggy Smalls and the Hip Hop Chip Shop - which is such a ruddy great name it makes us want to eat there for every meal of every day for the rest of time.

Friday Food Fight line-up here.

Upper Campfield market hallUpper Campfield market hall

So Will, Friday Food Fight, what's the big idea?

The idea is that we bring in around ten vendors each Friday night to Upper Campfield, a mix of some of Manchester's finest like Yang Sing and Andrew Nutter and throw them in next to street vendors from vans and stalls, put them all on a level playing field and get them cooking the food they do best. It's great because it can act as a springboard for those more amateur cooks to come in and cook next to some of Manchester's best.

Along one wall of the hall there'll be all the food vendors, along the other will be bars dishing out great craft beers, ciders and some cocktails. If we're pushing for great food we want the drinks to match that. We'll also be looking to pull in some drinks brands for one-offs. Then we'll have DJs providing the soundtrack, the guys from Drop The Mustard, Funkademia, Juicy and Krysko all have slots. We may even get a band in. We want the food to be centre stage though, shout about the food in Manchester and give vendors the chance to show off.

Where'd you pull the idea from?

When I was working for the beer Duval I'd see all of these food events going off in London like Street Feast at Hawker House, the Truck Stop at Canary Wharf was just insane. These were very forward thinking events and they were packed.

I started working for Cave Beers in the North West and was looking to tie those craft beers into that kind of event, turned out a mate of mine, Chris Legh, wanted to do a very similar thing. He's been involved in a number of pop-ups. We threw our ideas together and went to Asif and Jodie from the Castlefield Market who had put together the Victorian Market in Upper Campfield market over Christmas.

We were very keen to get in that building, it's such a great space, so luckily they got on board and we've all put this together. We can't wait to get people inside that building, I walked past it everyday for two years and had no idea how amazing it was.

FFF (image courtesy of Abigail Melissa Stein)FFF (image courtesy of Abigail Melissa Stein)

Who are B.Eat Street?

That's me and Chris. We want the Friday Food Fight to be its own thing, but we've got more ideas and more events we want to do so B.Eat Street is the banner they'll fall under. Friday Food Fights is B.Eat Street's debut event in partnership with the Castlefield Market.

Will the vendors be different every week?

The idea is that no one vendor will do more than half the events, apart from Sugar Rush doing the desserts. We want to switch it up so that if you come the next week it's different to the previous week. But we also don't want you to come one week, love a particular vendor then never see them again.

So if you come one week and love the sushi by Umezsushi, then you'll be able to come back and try more from them in a couple of weeks. It's finding that balance between keeping it fresh but making sure the most popular food is still going to be there.

Why only twelve weeks?

Twelve weeks will carry us through until the end of May and we need to see how the events take off. We are looking at the possibility of staging autumn or winter events though, maybe even a Christmas series.

Upper CampfieldUpper Campfield

How late will the events finish?

We’ve purposefully kept the timings down to an 11pm finish. The idea is to keep people in the city after work. We envisage that we’ll have two rotations on a Friday night, those that come straight after work at 5pm until 8'ish, then the second wave will be those that are beginning a night out, so will come between 8pm and 11pm. We want to bring people out in Manchester and keep them out to hit the bars. At 11pm we turn the gas, pumps and music off and set you off into the wild.

Let's talk price and portions...

We'd like you to dabble in a few vendors so we're trying to keep portions down to about three quarters of a normal meal size at around the £5 to £6 mark. We're also asking the vendors to put on smaller bites at £2 to £3. The idea is that you try a whole bunch of different foods from different vendors, try some new drinks and have a great time with your mates.

...and the vendors keep the proceeds?

Apart from a small nominal fee to pay for the venue, DJs, lighting, marketing and the like, the vendors will keep everything they make. It's a great opportunity for them.

Victorian Christmas market at Upper CampfieldVictorian Christmas market at Upper Campfield

How many people can you fit in? And do we need tickets?

We're allowed 499 people in the hall but they'll be coming and going so we expect the footfall to be higher. We're not ticketing it. We want anyone to be able to come down as and when they please. Just come as you are. There is a guaranteed entry list for a few family and friends but there's nothing VIP about it. Just come down and get eating.


I actually can't wait to get cracking on opening night. Be great to see the reactions to all of that under one roof. Being of a beer'y persuasion I'm looking forward to releasing these lesser known brands like the Hawaiian Kona beers on to people. I love food, but the beer side is one of the main reasons i became involved.

So what is your background?

I’ve been in drinks all my life. I moved here for Uni in '98, after that I had a bar called Hush in Preston for five years. Bit cliched next for an Irishman but I started working for Guinness and after that the Belgian beer Duval. That got me back into the craft beer scene, I wanted to do more of that so approached Cave Beers in London and said 'nobody is pushing your beer up here, so let me do it'. Luckily they did. Now you'll see beers like Kona and Paulaner across Manchester, mostly in the Northern Quarter. There’s still work to be done but we’re breaking in.

FFF (image courtesy of Abigail Melissa Stein)FFF (image courtesy of Abigail Melissa Stein)

Do you believe this dirty, trash, street, pop-up foodie thing will slow down?

It depends on your definition of street food. There will always be a need for casual dining done well. Solita for example, they do what you might call dirty street food but they put it together very well with quality ingredients in a restaurant environment. With anything that becomes popular there are certain people that will start doing it badly and they're the ones that will die out. But the ones that keep doing it well and pushing new things, the ones keeping it fresh, they'll keep going.

Social media certainly helps. Twitter and street food feed off each other. Trends and tastes can be picked up on very quickly and adapted to on the spot. Street food doesn't have to be what you instantly think of, it's not just burgers, we're bringing in chefs like Andrew Nutter who turn out beautiful food and asking them to produce street food. They love it because it gives them the chance to do something different, try things out, quick and casual. That's the beauty of events like Friday Food Fight. Get together a gang of fantastic cooks and let them show off. Throw in exciting drinks and great DJs and you've got a perfect night.

B.Eat Street's first Friday Food Fight will take place on Friday 7 March at Upper Campfield Market on Deansgate (opposite Beetham Tower) from 5pm-11pm.

Find out more about B.Eat Street and Friday Food Fight on facebook or follow them on twitter at @beatstreetmcr

Email: beatstreetmcr@gmail.com

Follow @David8Blake on twitter

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DavidFebruary 25th 2014.

All of this is basically white men copying Asian hawker food courts,without giving them the credit.Also in comparison to the hawker food courts in Singapore and Malaysia which have dozens of different food vendors offering different specialities it's hugely limited.

14 Responses: Reply To This...
G RumpFebruary 25th 2014.

David, negative people like you are so bloody tiring. If it was for your type we'd never hold any events in the city. We'd all sit alone in our cold, damp grey houses staring at a grey wall with a long grey face and a grey wife. Go be grey somewhere else you miser.

DavidFebruary 26th 2014.

As someone who actually experienced hawker food courts in Singapore and who has travelled all over South East Asia I would like to see the real thing here in Manchester and not a whole culture being expropriated by the bearded chinless wonders and presented as something they created.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 26th 2014.

David why are you such a massive dousing bucket of cold water attempting to drown a new and fine baby-initiative before it can even crawl? I can't understand why you use Manchester Confidential to whinge like this. Start a 'blog' or some such and vent your frustrations on that.

Jenny CollinsFebruary 26th 2014.

David, you state you want to see the 'real thing' surely the 'real thing' can only be experienced in the native country of the food... maybe this can be 'Manchester's thing??? However I wish we had enough regional dishes to make this a success so as we do not then good luck boys!

RacletteFebruary 26th 2014.

Manc Guy was a fucking twerp, and that's putting it mildly. Good riddance to him. I'm not a big fan of Gordo btw.

Kite FlyerFebruary 26th 2014.

David, it's a very insecure mind that instantly equates someone disagreeing or criticising their views with censorship. Your comments have not been removed. Get a grip.

JonathanFebruary 26th 2014.

I am always deeply suspicious of men who frequent South East Asia regularly.

Kite FlyerFebruary 26th 2014.

...and if you can't take someone disagreeing with your "divergent opinions", don't post them! You clearly have a victim complex borne of your objectionable personality... I wonder if you've ever used the phrases "thought police" or "PC thugs".

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

@RACLETTE "Manc Guy was a fucking twerp, and that's putting it mildly. Good riddance to him. I'm not a big fan of Gordo btw."? Look!..foul language!...and yet it's Anon's and David's posts before it that are deleted?

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

JONATHAN SCHOFIELD - Are you for real "why are you such a massive dousing bucket of cold water attempting to drown a new and fine baby-initiative before it can even crawl?" can you be honest and say you've never done this?

GordoFebruary 27th 2014.

@Raclette Don't like you much either. So there.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 27th 2014.

Nope never done that.

RacletteFebruary 27th 2014.

@Gordo my heart's broken!

SquirrelitoFebruary 27th 2014.

David, how do you know the stalls will be run by white men? fool. A white man may be involved in co-ordinating the event, the rest is just your pathetic, ill-informed bitching. You don't know how many stalls will be there, how independent or how authentic any of them will be. I think it sounds like fun. Remember fun?

David Michael EvansFebruary 25th 2014.

Fine...but please.. trashy street food need not translate into trashy street litter...maybe the people organising it can have a zero tolerance of litter (if disposable plates etc are used) from their venue in this part residential area...and not contribute to Manchester's unenviable reputation for being litter strewn.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
G RumpFebruary 25th 2014.

Give the guys a break would you. They haven't even held their first event. they're trying to bring something new and fresh to the city. Maybe even go down and have some... wait for it... fun?

DavidFebruary 26th 2014.

There is nothing new or original in what they are doing.They could at least have encouraged new upstarts instead it's the usual bunch of so called 'independents'.

G RumpFebruary 26th 2014.

David, they held heats to find new emerging talent and give them an opportunity against the bigger boys. Perhaps you could go along with some frie... well, perhaps on your own then?

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

G RUMP there were no heats just 3/4 people that got staright to the final as nobody else applied

Will EvansFebruary 26th 2014.

Hi guys, thanks for the feedback. The Asian Hawker food courts are indeed an enviable event, maybe if we can grow our reputation and brand and people get what we want to do we can look to do an Asian specific event like that in the future but we wanted to cater for all tastes so each night people will have a diverse range of foods to choose from. I'd recommend you come down and see what Yang Sing are bringing to the event, you won't leave disappointed I'm sure. All food is for consumption on the premises and litter will be disposed of in the venue, our door teams will ensure no litter is taken outside. We want the event to be something that local residents and Castlefield are proud of. New upstarts have indeed been very much included in the event. We ran a search for new talent which launched months ago and the final cook off was held a fortnight ago in media city. We have 3 new start-up businesses which are all of excellent quality. Love from the Streets, Shake Maroc & Roll and Fair Game. These are keen chef's who want to start their own businesses and we want to use Friday Food Fight as a springboard for that. Hope this helps x

Julie DaviesFebruary 26th 2014.

Not really relevant to Manchester, but while in New York recently the best food we had there was some steamed dumplings from a rickshaw on Wall Street - and highly commended was the burger I had from the skating rink in Central Park. Some street food vendors are awesome!

MGSFebruary 26th 2014.

As someone who has been trying to emulate this approach in Manchester city centre for the past 2.5 years (we’ve probably hounded every food establishment in the gtr Manchester area in that time as @hawkersmcr), I’m genuinely excited and upset in equal measure by this!! Great space, great line up, great concept. We should’ve beaten you to this last year! Best of luck all, we hope to be in competition very soon!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
MGSFebruary 26th 2014.

p.s. we have a David on our team, and i can confirm its not the one spilling the vitriol above!

Will EvansFebruary 27th 2014.

Cheers MGS, you're a gent. Plenty of room for all of us. Come say hi at an event and we'll grab a beer

MGSFebruary 27th 2014.

I may just do that!

Jenny CollinsFebruary 26th 2014.

David, you state you want to see the 'real thing' but surely the 'real thing' can only be experienced in the native country of the food... maybe this can be 'Manchester's thing'??? However I do wish we had enough regional dishes to make this a success but as we realistically do not then, good luck boys!

AnonymousFebruary 26th 2014.

Guerrilla Eats - All about the street food traders and not using them for credibility, it's nice to see plenty of restaurants using the pop up and street food buzz for extra profit, nice work beat street

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

The restaurants will be charging less than they usually do for some menu items at beat street so how is this a level playing field? £13 for a solita burger in solita or £6 at beat street? Sorry new guys and small traders but by the looks if it you're being had

WillFebruary 27th 2014.

Some incredibly defeatist/dismissive comments here. FFF is a really cool concept, something which brings an exciting new event to an area of town that doesn't have it. Upper Campfield Market is actually on my walk home and I always feel it's a shame there isn't a bit more activity on this patch of Deansgate of an early evening. What's more baffling is the fact that these Anonymous/'David' comments have managed to turn many of the positives of the event into negatives. If you were to believe these comments, the event shouldn't be run by white men, restaurants should be charging more food at FFF than at their own places, and Deansgate in its entirety will be under a foot of litter come the end of the first event. Utter nonsense. Sounds a lot like someone who either wasn't chosen in one of the heats or wasn't asked to participate in the first place. Shame. Bring on the Friday fun - I'm looking forward to it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

Like mfdf restaurants are using this event as a good advertising opportunity whilst trading alongside sole traders who are doing it to make a living, I think the event sounds great ill just be making sure my money goes to the right people

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2014.

"restaurants should be charging more food at FFF than at their own places" this wasn't said at all, the point is that if their GP requires them to charge £13 normally how can they fit in the price band of £5-£6? Many people will choose the restaurants because their food at this event will be significantly cheaper than usual

Mark FullerFebruary 27th 2014.

Poor David. it must be tough being the only out of the closet Tory in Manchester,but instead of being so curmudgeonly about these new and exciting events, you should praise the enterprise and initiative shown by the organizers and local businesses.

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