A Sheffield chef has plenty to celebrate despite operating a food business in lockdown.
Danny Pinch, whose Mexican fusion street-food operation Pellizco is currently serving from Sharrowvale Road’s Dyson Place, has been named 2020’s Best Newcomer in the British Street Food Awards.
Judges including Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s food programme and Ed Cooke, head chef of the legendary Fat Duck restaurant, were knocked-out by the quality of Pellizco’s food.
The Awards were established in 2010 to celebrate Britain’s real food heroes who serve fresh, seasonal and local food in an environment where “only the strongest survive.”
The win couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time: Pellizco’s tastiest tacos in town include a Día de Muertos special: chipotle and black garlic beef tacos with braised red cabbage emulsion, squash, parmesan, salsa verde, micro red amaranth and lime.
The dish’s name refers to Mexico’s traditional holiday the Day of the Dead, when people celebrate the lives of lost relatives and friends and the inspiration behind Pellizco’s logo. Coincidentally the British Street Food Awards took place as this year’s Day of the Dead celebration began.
Pinch is a graduate of Union St’s School For Pop-Ups, a charity which supports people wanting to create new street food start-ups in Sheffield.
Earlier this year he feared his business would be “decimated” because of COVID-19, but the win has been followed by a sell-out first weekend for his new residency at Sharrowvale Road’s Dyson Place.
“I’ve gone from being seriously concerned that this would be it, to persevering and adapting. Now I’m over the moon,” said Pinch.
Commenting on the British Food Awards, he added, “we ate some of the best street food in the UK when we competed at the Awards and the competition was very high, there were some really big names in the final. To win best newcomer was indescribable, the nerves beforehand and the journey down to Reading were tough but it made it all worthwhile.”
Pinch originally fell into cooking as a part-time job to support his studies but “as I progressed I decided that I wanted to do this full time and dropped out of University to pursue it.”
He learned his trade in kitchens including the Double Tree at Sheffield Park Hotel, “working with chefs that I am still close friends with today, I really learned the skill of being a chef there.” After working his way up from commis chef through to sous chef his next move would have been to seek a head chef role and “as soon as I felt ready to take that step I went into self-employment.”
The School for Pop Ups proved invaluable, added Pinch, “Sheffield has been a great place to start-up. There’s mentoring from people who understand the challenges that independent food traders face. Test-trading at Union St and at Sheffield markets and events really helped us get off the ground as a new start up. It gave us a route into trading at the busier food markets across the country.”
Six other School for Pop Ups graduates have now moved into fixed premises, according to project manager Matt Hill:
“Pie-Eyed, Lovely Pear, Shuju Kitchen, SHED, Yoki and TONCO all started at Union St and secured daily premises in Sheffield. They show how entrepreneurs can use the pop-up opportunity to test-trade, enabling them to realise their food business dreams without a huge initial financial outlay.”
Hill was delighted to learn of Pellizco’s win: “Danny's delicious food has always had a huge amount of potential and I'm thrilled to see him achieve this national recognition.”
A fixed home is Danny Pinch’s next dream: “I really want to get us into a fixed premises in Sheffield where we will be able to offer what we do now in a relaxed environment, develop the menus and really push our food to the next level.”