Foodies assemble for Hitchin Taco Wars as Chicken George eyes new wing bar in town

PUBLISHED: 16:09 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 08 October 2019

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars which sees 8 Herts-based food traders go head-to-head to win the coveted Capsicana Cup and scoop £100 prize money. Picture: DANNY LOO

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars which sees 8 Herts-based food traders go head-to-head to win the coveted Capsicana Cup and scoop £100 prize money. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Hitchin Market Place played host to Hertfordshire's first ever Taco Wars on Saturday.

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Crowds gathered to sample Hitchin's finest Mexican street food as eight traders vied for the coveted Capsicana Cup.

Just under 400 tickets were sold, with 3,800 tacos served up - a whopping 16 tacos a minute.

Freya, four, and Flynn Christensen, six, tuck into their tacos. Picture: DANNY LOOFreya, four, and Flynn Christensen, six, tuck into their tacos. Picture: DANNY LOO

Competitors were asked to devise a showpiece taco and it then fell upon the voting public to crown a winner.

The eight competing traders - largely based in the North Herts area - were Cantina Carnitas, Los Reyes, The Groundworks, Chicken George, Bar Amigo, The Pink Pinata, The Victoria and The Highlander.

The team from The Groundworks display their competition taco. Picture: DANNY LOOThe team from The Groundworks display their competition taco. Picture: DANNY LOO

After a fierce contest, Chicken George, an American fast-food joint from Luton, took home the trophy.

Chicken George owner Chris Cheah said: "It was an honour that the paying public chose our creation as their favourite taco. 
"We came into it as outsiders facing up against some real Mexican heavyweights.

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

"Chicken's our game really, but we thought we'd enter the taco world."

The winning taco was comprised of a white corn base, with chicken thigh nuggets and smoked rib meat, shored up with treacle-smoked bacon, a sweet pepper relish - all topped off with a caramelised pickle onion and a choice of mayonnaise or a homemade saffron aioli.

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Chicken George, which also won Best Buffalo Wing at London Wingfest in September, is hoping to open a new wing bar in Hitchin by the end of the year.

Chris has said the winning taco could feature as a special at the new diner.

The team from The Groundworks at the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOThe team from The Groundworks at the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Matt Bean, Cantina Carnitas owner and organiser of Taco Wars, said the Market Place was "absolutely buzzing" as a live DJ played mariachi beats to complete the Mexican takeover.

"Life feels pretty boring now after a day like that," he said. "There was a real vibe about the place, the weather held out and everyone absolutely loved it - we could have sold twice as many tickets.

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

"What resonated was that this was all about local independent businesses, working with Hitchin BID to get footfall into the town."

Talks are already in place for T2 - Taco Wars 2020, which is likely to take place at a much bigger venue.

Capsicana founder Ben Jackson who sponsored Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOCapsicana founder Ben Jackson who sponsored Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Hitchin Taco Wars project is organised in partnership with Food Locker - a Hertfordshire Instagram food blogger - and Hitchin Street Food Monthly.

Taco Wars aims to highlight local independent food businesses and provides an opportunity for traders to showcase new menu items.

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Freya, four, and Flynn Christensen, six, tuck into their tacos. Picture: DANNY LOOFreya, four, and Flynn Christensen, six, tuck into their tacos. Picture: DANNY LOO

You may also want to watch:

Taco Wars organiser Matt Bean of Cantina Cantinas. Picture: DANNY LOOTaco Wars organiser Matt Bean of Cantina Cantinas. Picture: DANNY LOO

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

Los Reyes display their competition taco. Picture: DANNY LOOLos Reyes display their competition taco. Picture: DANNY LOO

Karl Hodgson and Vanessa Sawyer enjoying the afternoon. Picture: DANNY LOOKarl Hodgson and Vanessa Sawyer enjoying the afternoon. Picture: DANNY LOO

Punters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOOPunters enjoy the first ever Hitchin Taco Wars. Picture: DANNY LOO

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