With all the Street Food Festivals popping up all over the North East, it’s never been easier to sample different foods from across the region and further afield. We have some awesome restaurants and pop ups showcasing authentic global foods and the new Kells Lane Food Market in Gateshead is thriving. But one thing that’s been lacking of late, is great, authentic Caribbean street food. Until now that is….
Enter The Calabash tree, a Caribbean street food initiative based in the North East and dreamed up by firefighter and basketball player, Ryan McVay. Having grown up around the tastes and flavours of Trinidad and the Caribbean, McVay realised that these flavourful foods were not so easy to come by in the UK. So, using his family recipes and trips to the Caribbean as his inspiration, McVay set out to develop the perfect menu that would give people an authentic taste of Trinidad and the Caribbean, he tells me about his quest to create the ideal roti – keen to keep the taste of Trinidad alive in his household, McVay tested out his dishes on the most harsh of critics – his family, before moving on to his colleagues in the Fire Service.
“(in Trinidad and the Caribbean) measurements are not a thing as it’s all about the pinch!” Ryan McVay, The Calabash Tree
After receiving rave reviews for his colourful foods brimming with soulful flavours and seeing a gap in the market for authentic, home cooked Caribbean food full of spice, McVay set up his business, The Calabash Tree for private dining and home delivery. Every single thing offered by The Calabash is produced by McVay, in his kitchen, adapted from his family recipes. McVay has taken The Calabash Tree out on location to street food festivals across the North East and is building quite the reputation for being the go to guy for Caribbean food, like a secret Caribbean food dealer that only those in the know know about. And now you guys of course.
McVay says he loves to hear feedback about his home cooked dishes, he thrives on it saying that people tell him they’ve never tasted food like it before. With praise like that it’s no surprise to hear that The Calabash Tree has been recognised by the British Street Food Awards. Over the weekend of June 16th & 17th, the British Street Food Awards will take place at Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham, aided by a clever app that allows users to keep track of their favourite traders to see when and where they’ll be trading to make sure they don’t miss out on their favourite dishes. It details the specials of the best traders, and encourages punters to photograph – and review – their food. The idea behind introducing technology, is that it’s helping to build a bigger, stronger street food community. For the first time, users will also be able to vote for their favourite traders at the British Street Food Awards via the app.
Interested in finding out more about The Calabash Tree? You can find out where the next pop up will be taking place, book a Supper Club, or order food via the Calabash Tree Dining FaceBook page, and if you’re a fan of real, authentic Caribbean food, download the British Street Food app from the app store now and get involved.