Posted 12th June 2014 by Alaina Wong
Food Network chef Andy Bates has always had a love of street food. Affectionately known as the ‘Pie Man’, he began with Eat My Pies, a stall at London’s Brick Lane Market. The Real Food team got a chance to speak to the talented chef about what inspires his street food creations.
How did you get into cooking, and what are you proudest of in your career so far?
My parents are both Londoners, and I was raised in a village near Ashford in Kent, so I’ve always loved a mix of the city and countryside. As a boy I ate almost anything, apart from English mustard, which I now love, so I was always interested in getting into cooking.
My first memory of cooking has to be watching my mum bake a cake and then being handed the bowl to lick – you can’t beat a bit of cake batter, can you?
My biggest achievements to date have been starting my own catering business and getting the chance to travel the world with my television series. I get to meet amazing, inspiring people while cooking great dishes along the way. I have to pinch myself sometimes!
How did you discover street food?
I discovered street food right on my doorstep in London. Before I started my little market stall, I would walk around Brick Lane’s indoor market, tasting all these brilliant flavours from around the world. The one thing I noticed, however, was that no one was doing British street food. That gave me the idea to start Eat My Pies.
How did touring in Brazil come about?
With the World Cup starting on 12 June and the Olympics in Rio in 2016, I thought it would be a great idea to film a country that’s going to have so much attention coming its way. Plus, I love the idea of people watching these events while trying out my recipes.
What are your top five places to eat in Brazil?
In no particular order:
1. Postal 9 on Ipanema Beach serves up Uruguayan meat sandwiches alongside fantastic views.
2. Mocotó, São Paulo is a traditional Brazilian restaurant that makes hearty and homely food.
3. Anna’s floating restaurant on the Amazon River.
4. On the streets of Salvador, Bahia, an African street food restaurant called Acarajé makes a delicious dish from black-eyed peas and dried shrimp.
5. Folha’s Place, on the beach at Praia do Forte. Folha is a lobster fisherman who brings his catch back to the beach, grills the lobsters and serves them, with a cold beer, on tables made out of surfboards.
What’s your favourite Brazilian snack?
Pão de queijo, or cheese dough balls, are one of my favourite snacks of all time! They’re traditionally served with coffee at breakfast and are fluffy, light and cheesy – yum!
Do you have your own twist on a traditional Brazilian dish?
Yes, loads! Click here for some of the recipes.
Did you meet any interesting characters in Brazil?
There were lots, but someone who really stood out to me was Anna, who owns a floating restaurant on the Amazon Tiver. She bought the floating building as a getaway weekend retreat and used to cook a lot. As fishermen passed they kept telling her how good her food smelt so she started feeding them. She got so busy she started charging people, which resulted in her moving there permanently and turning it into a restaurant. Her specialty is Piranha soup and giant fish ribs, both of which are delicious.
How do you think Londonʼs street food culture is going?
Hopefully it will continue to grow. It helps ambitious entrepreneurs start businesses with low overheads and allows them to develop relationships with their customers.
Whereʼs your favourite place for street food in the UK?
That’s a tough question – it changes all the time. I recently went to the new food hall in Leicester Market and was blown away by the produce and people’s ambition behind their businesses.
Whatʼs the one kitchen utensil you couldnʼt live without?
Who are you supporting in the World Cup?
I’ll be supporting England, of course! I’ll be chewing my nails off in the process and hoping for the best like I do every four years. I was given Belgium in my friend’s Fantasy League so will be keeping a close eye on them too.
What are you most looking forward to with the World Cup?
Barbecues with friends – I’ll be dragging the TV outside and hoping it doesn’t rain.
Any exciting plans for the next year?
I’ll hopefully continue travelling, meeting fascinating people, trying new foods and finding the best street art the world can show me, which is a personal passion of mine.
More on Andy Bates...
Since winning the award for Best Pie at the British Street Food Awards in 2010, he has a hit show called Street Feasts, where he travels the world discovering new and exciting flavours. As everyone gets set for World Cup mania, Andy has focused his sights – and his street food passion – on Brazil.
So, what Brazilian-inspired dishes will you be cooking and eating this month? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so why not tweet me @TescoFood.
See more Brazilian recipes