Sheffield street-food chef who launched Mexican-themed van in lockdown wins prestigious award

A Sheffield chef who launched a Mexican-themed food van during lockdown has been named Best Newcomer in the British Street Food Awards.

Monday, 30th November 2020, 4:28 pm

Danny Pinch, opened Pellizco (‘pinch’ in Spanish) in June after graduating from Sheffield’s ‘School for Pop-Ups’, run by Union St business hub, and doing events all over the North and Midlands.

Judges including Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and Ed Cooke, senior sous chef of the legendary Fat Duck restaurant, were knocked-out by the food.

Pellizco is currently serving from Dyson Place, a newly revamped yard off Sharrowvale Road, and has just had its residency extended until the end of the year. Takeaways remained open throughout Tier 3 and lockdown.

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Danny Pinch is Best Newcomer in the British Street Food Awards.
Danny Pinch is Best Newcomer in the British Street Food Awards.

Danny said he thought the first lockdown in March might kill the business after it ‘completely decimated our calendar’. But he persevered with a ‘reheat at home’ offering before launching Pellizco.

He added: “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.

“I’ve gone from being seriously concerned that this would be it, to persevering and adapting. Now I’m over the moon.”

The awards were established in 2010 to celebrate Britain’s ‘real food heroes’ who serve fresh, seasonal and local grub in an environment where ‘only the strongest survive’.

Danny launched his van in June after initially fearing lockdown would kill the business.

Danny fell into cooking as a part-time job to support his studies but as he progressed he dropped out of university to do it full time.

He learned his trade in kitchens including the Double Tree at Sheffield Park Hotel,

He said: “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. But as soon as he felt ready he went into self-employment instead.

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 food.

Danny is a graduate of Union St’s ‘School For Pop-Ups’, a charity which supports people create street food firms.

He said: “Sheffield has been a great place to start-up. There was mentoring from people who understand the challenges. Test-trading at Union St and at Sheffield markets and events really helped us get off the ground. It gave us a route into trading at the busier food markets across the country.”

A fixed home is his next dream: “I really want to get into 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.”

School for Pop-Ups manager Matt Hill was delighted to learn of Pellizco’s win.

Danny's residency at Dyson Place, off Sharrowvale Road, has just been extended to the end of the year.

He said: “Danny's delicious food has always had a huge amount of potential and I'm thrilled to see him achieve this national recognition.”

Six other SFPU graduates have now moved into fixed premises, he added.

“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.”

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