The Birmingham Gazette loves a good street feast. So much so that when we first received our invite to Birmingham’s freshest street food phenomenon we were more than a tad bit excited about what was on offer. And the best part….it now takes place every week. The Birmingham Gazette caught up with Digbeth Dining Club to find out more about the taste sensations of 2012.
TBG: When we received our invite, it was almost given to us in secret – reminding us of the way you used to hear about the old raves, was that intentional?
DDC: Partly. We wanted to have a bit of mystery around it before it started, that’s why we had our viral video campaign, bits of marketing dropped here and there. Most of us involved love a good party and wanted to recreate this! More importantly though, we wanted to build intrigue for Brummies to eat amazing food!
TBG: So what is the Digbeth Dining Club and how did it come to life?
DDC: To most people, street food is cheap burgers, baked potatoes or hot dogs. Not anymore. Across the UK you’re seeing caterers with a passion for good food setting up a gazebo and doing street food how it should be done. Digbeth Dining Club is trying to change people’s perception in Birmingham by showing that you can have fast food cheap and relatively healthy (always partial to a dirty burger!) Each week we bring in different caterers with all kinds of food, put on some top notch DJ’s from around the Midlands playing an eclectic mix of funk, disco, soul, reggae, hip hop and have a party into the small hours. The great thing is though we are completely inclusive of everyone, we have parents with their kids, grandparents, trendy young types, everyone is welcome. The atmosphere has been fantastic so far where you see everyone chatting and having a good time with each other. For example, I recently went to Oktoberfest in Munich and was blown away by the friendly atmosphere. Part of this was having long tables where you had to share with anyone. We have introduced a similar idea, and you see people talking to the person next to them about the food. It’s exactly what we wanted.
How DDC came around has been a years worth of sitting in pubs discussing ideas! For the last year I have been working closely with the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) and was filming street food events across the UK for them. They represent many of the caterers across the country and almost all the caterers you see at DDC are members. I was coming back to Birmingham and there was nothing like in London going on here. After a few set backs we were introduced to James and Adam who run Spotlight. They were really keen to be involved in setting up something new for Birmingham. With their great support as well as the people behind the scenes at Spotlight we set a trial for the August Bank Holiday. Over those 2 days, the weather was torrential but each night was rammed. We felt clearly that Birmingham had a desire for street food so since then we have gone weekly and its been going really well.
TBG: Tell us about some of the food over the last couple of months and the criteria for getting to cook for the Digbeth Diners.
DDC: We’ve had all kinds so far. We always try to get something new that someone hasn’t tried before. For example, last week we had Pheasant and Fig wraps for Game week, sold out by the end of the night! Our main criteria is that food is cooked in front of the customer to get that real street food experience. We aim to have sustainable caterers as well, who source their food locally too.
TBG: Obviously it’s no longer a secret, are there plans to bring a couple of special guest chefs or brands to the street?
DDC: Yes, but keep posted on our social media outlets for info on that! Future is looking rosy
TBG: What makes Digbeth such a great location for hosting the Club?
DDC: Digbeth is a fantastic location. It’s got so much going on there creatively but we saw it as somewhere that would be most receptive to what we want. As mentioned, Spotlight was exactly what we were looking for. It had that underground feel that we were looking for but when people walk in they love and want to stay for the night. You can’t get that in the centre of town in our opinion.
TBG: Has this made you hungry for even more spectacular and ambitious
DDC: We’re on until Christmas and then taking a break until the end of January ( 30th birthday celebrations in Jan for me!). We’re already putting plans in place to take this to the next level. 2013 is going to be fun!