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Inspired by the 1990s Cool Britannia artist movement, food writer Chloe Scott Moncrieff, food PR Amy Thorne and baker Lily Jones launched a contest that helps Britain’s freshest culinary talent emerge. As the applications for this year’s YBF awards are open, FDL caught up with Chloe Scott to find out about her revolutionary foodies and why quality dining in England is so creative.
Where does the idea for the YBFs come from?
It’s a dream that has been around for a few years now. In May of 2010 I had just given birth to a baby and I was getting a lot of insomnia. I started thinking of all this amazing new food talent at nights, there was no space to get them all together. I spoke with Amy and we kept discussing about doing something, a small celebration. Then one night I thought of the Young British Artists of the 1990s and actually this is what’s happening in food and drink now, we’re having a really exciting moment. So we said: we should call this the YBFs!
I write a lot for newspapers and I always thought: we have many awards but winners are always famous, there’s never something new, no new talent. So the YBFs are filling a gap as such. Amy and I started on this and very soon afterwards Lilly came on board.
Is there a reason why are all these great ideas in food are happening now?
Well, the shift kind of started about 10 years ago but everything evolved slowly. In the years of pre-super marketization in the 60s and 70s, my father ran a small farm. After that, supermarkets introduced convenient shopping and we lost our food culture a little bit. It has been happening drip by drip so today there’s definitely a shift in the UK in terms of consumers. They’re much more keen to know provenance, they want to understand traceability.
People are also getting more aware of taste, so instead of buying highly processed, industrial meat every day they prefer to buy a beautiful piece once a week and eat it as a treat. They are changing their priorities, again in the UK there’s a lot of excitement about vegetables at the moment and from a vegetarian point of view.
Why just British foodies for the YFBs awards?
Well, this might sound very “British” but to us anyone who happens to be in the UK doing something amazing can apply! For example Oley Hanson who makes the most delicious smoked salmon, who just converted into a chef, is Norwegian but he’s living in the UK. When it comes to applying, there’s not that many rules. For example someone asked us: how young should I be? And I was like: are you young in spirit? If you’re a 99-year-old woman making the most amazing cheese and you’re completely pioneering, you can enter!
Isn’t it funny to use the word creative for something that ends up in your belly?
The YBFs are different exactly because they are creative. Pushing boundaries and approaching food as other people might do a painting. I think its definitely a creative process. I went to art school, I used to paint a lot so I always think of the comparison between a painting and what you create over the stove! They’re quite similar – just one goes in your belly and the other goes on a wall.
What else is on your agenda for 2013?
The search is on now for discovering new talent as we have the entries open. At the same time we’re doing a recipe book and for July we will headlined a big festival, a show about the democratization of food. Not that restaurants are not good but it’s nice to celebrate the fact that you can get great food on the street for 4 - 5 pounds. We have a big YBFs tent where people can come and enjoy our discoveries.
Entries for this year’s YBFs awards are open till the end of April: foodies, coffee-lovers and cocktail buffs, get entering ASAP at www.the-ybfs.com !