If you work in London you will be familiar with all the streetfood stalls that appear at lunchtime. We have a few in St Albans at the Wednesday market, but there has been a gap for good quality options the rest of the week. Jon Watts opened Jon’s Streatfood a couple of weeks ago at the top of St Peter’s Street and it has already been very popular with nearby workers and shoppers, even during the wintery weather.
Jon sells three home-made chillies, each served with flatbread, and I was very impressed with the fresh flavours and quality of the ingredients. I really loved the Beef Brisket Chilli that Jon slow-cooks each night until the beef falls apart. Jon’s chilli is based on Tex-Mex recipes and contains chipotle and coffee (can you taste it?). Jon has catered for Jamie Oliver’s TV series ‘Comfort Food’ and ‘Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast’, and he told me that he has had loads of compliments for this chilli, including from David Tennant who told him it was the best chilli he had ever eaten! Scoop it up with one of Jon’s flatbreads, which he makes each morning from just flour and yoghurt.
The Green Chilli with Pork is also worth a try, and has a light, fresh taste and texture. The pork Jon uses is free-range, and comes from nearby A&C Meats on Victoria Street. If you want something vegan/vegetarian, Jon’s chilli con veggie is very good. Jon uses loads of beans and lentils in his recipe, and it varies each time he makes it depending on what he has in. Mine had chickpeas, pinto and lentils, and had plenty of spicy flavour. All the chillies (including a flatbread) cost £5. There is a bowl of freshly chopped chilli salsa on the counter if you want to add more oomph, though mine didn’t need it. I recommend a box of sweet potato fries too; you don’t really need them, but they are very crisp and delicious, so why not?
Jon has a great story; he left school at 16 and didn’t know what he wanted to do. He spent time in a young offender’s institution and was encouraged to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards scheme. As part of this, he was inspired to learn about food and cooking, and he worked his way to the Gold Award, which was presented to him by the Duke of Edinburgh at St James’ Palace. Jon went on to train in the Jamie Oliver group for six years, including work experience at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and at Angela Hartnett’s Murano. Exactly one year ago Jon started his own business, Blue Sage Catering, and he has cooked for barbecues, parties, dinners, weddings and work events. As a private chef, Jon can cater more formal options too, depending on what the client wants; during St Albans Fashion Week Jon made amazing canapes for an event at the Poggenpohl showroom on London Road, which got very good reviews. He has also cooked monk fish in pancetta, scallops, guinea fowl and sea bass for private dinners, so is pretty happy to cook whatever you need.
The Streatfood trailer keeps Jon very busy during the week, and Saturdays are set aside for private events and catering, so you won’t find him in the town centre then. What with all the prep and planning too, Jon is working every day of the week; I admire his determination. I can only imagine the trailer will get even busier as the weather improves and people can take their lunch to nearby parks and gardens. Jon plans to offer some summery options at the trailer in a few months, which he is trying out at the moment, but in the meantime, warm yourself up with a hearty portion of home-made chilli at our newest foodie addition.
Mon, Tues, Thurs 11.30–5; Fri 12-30–5, alternate Sundays 12.30–4.30
Something for the weekend: serve this with roasted potatoes and a healthy dollop of home-made salsa verde. Jon plans to put this on his summer menu, so look out for it at the trailer.
Serves 6 People
Preparation time 16 hours (low and slow)
1kg pork shoulder
100g vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
100ml balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Using a slow cooker, place the pork inside and turn onto ‘low’ setting. Add enough water to cover the pork
Throw in the vegetable stock along with the bay leaves, garlic, sage and rosemary. Put the lid on and cook low and slow for 16 hours. After 16 hours, use some tongs or a fork and pull the meat apart.
Add the balsamic vinegar, along with seasoning.