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Caterer Profile

Dorshi


Meet Dorshi

Dorshi are Radhika Mohendas & Jollyon Carter. A duo from Bridport, Dorset who in their own words, "re-imagine East Asian food using local produce”. Here, Radhika takes us through the highs and lows of starting Dorshi, to winning the Young British Foodies Street Food category in 2014. If you’ve ever tried a Dorshi dumpling, you probably already know that these guys are pretty special.


When & why did you start Dorshi?

The idea first started around December 2011. We began (tentatively) trading around August 2012. Why? Cravings. Food Manipulation. We wanted to see if we could mimic a style of cuisine using none of the typical ingredients.


Dorshi

Was it easy getting started?

No. I don’t think I know anyone who has found it easy to get started. We started backwards in the sense that we’re both creative people who have discerning palates without any chef-ing, marketing or business background.

After the many many months of experimenting in the kitchen we then had to actually put it out there - to an audience, to get judged! We’d scoured the internet reading about other people’s experiences/business models, to get some idea on what we should do next.

For us, a lot of things we had to learn just by doing events, making mistakes and learning from them. Like writing a menu, which was (& still is) the hardest part; how much to charge, what language to use. The other stuff was easy though! Like getting registered, getting our certificates & right documentation. You know, 'cos NCASS held our hand & told us it was going to be ok? Thanks for that! :)


Food by Dorshi

Always a pleasure! How did you come up with your food?

We definitely didn’t choose to do just any food. We wanted to do food that we both loved but for most of our lives had taken for granted. I’m from Malaysia and Jolls lived and worked in New York for many years, where South East Asian and East Asian street food is EVERYWHERE. We then didn’t want to be “authentic” Japanese or Korean or whatever but wanted to carve out our own style of food.


What makes your food unique?

Like many people around us in Bridport, Dorset we care about the traceability of our food; how sustainable our sources are and having little or no food waste at the end of an event.


With all this in mind, we try to highlight local seasonal produce in what we think is an interesting way. For example we started with pearl barley sushi (instead of rice), black pudding in dumplings, and popiah wraps made from nettles.


What lessons did you learn from your first season trading?

1. To wear thermals.
2. That you can spend more money buying coffee than you can making money.
3. That looking busy when you’re not is the most depressing activity in the world.
4. That one Indian looking person and one Caucasian looking person does not help sell vaguely East Asian looking food in some very narrow-minded food markets.
5. That there was a heavy exercise in marketing we had yet to master.
6. And finally, that we definitely had some kind of a market/audience, but we were in the wrong places. So learn, change, adapt but remain interesting.


What keeps you going in this industry?

That’s a good question! And I can honestly say - I don’t know. We genuinely enjoy playing with food; using unusual ingredients and creating interesting recipes. We love interacting with people and the pace of work at busy events and festivals. I guess what keeps us going is the desire to get better and better at what we do. We’ve only just begun and there’s so much more to learn!


Dorshi

Congrats on nabbing Best Street Food at the Young British Foodies! Why do you think you won?

Ha! Thanks :) Being different… experimental, tasting good but being a bit surprising. Don’t know - it was a year to celebrate the no meat in a bun? Whatever it was, we had a lot of fun at the judging and hopefully did a good job holding it together on the actual awards night!


Has the award made a difference to business?

Definitely. Just within the street food/event catering industry we have got a lot more recognition. It’s helped that people are more likely to take us a bit more seriously than when we just sounded novel on paper. It means being able to book the more sought-after pitches or events too, which is great!


Excellent! Do you mind if we talk about NCASS for a sec? How has your membership helped you?

Not sure where to begin! From the very beginning, our earliest Google searches and murky foray into catering, all links led to NCASS. So we followed the green linoleum road and ta-da! An all-seeing, all-knowing and, more importantly, all-patient voice unlocked secrets and shared wisdom. Without NCASS we'd still be shrimpy little country bumpkins without a clue on how to start a food business.


Dorshi

Aw, thanks. What advice would you give to a food start up?

I guess it depends on why you’re getting into the business in the first place. A lot of people are already quite business/marketing savvy and have done well right off the bat. As much as I’d like to discourage people just focusing on “looks”, I think realistically it’s a big draw for punters. We’ve always started with the food and been obsessed with how it all tastes and how it’s presented.


Perfecting your product is probably the best advice I can give. If that’s good surely the word will spread and it won’t matter what you “look” like? For us, making friends and gaining insight about other traders’ experiences was really valuable too.


Tough question: who’s your favourite mobile caterer?

Oooh there’s quite a lot. But just based on food and not good looks or banter or brand or anything: The Cauldron, Wholefood Heaven, Manjit’s Kitchen, Noisette Bakes, and Korrito. There’s a lot more we’re patiently waiting to try.


Fiiinally, what’s next for Dorshi?

More experimental pop-ups, a bigger menu for our festival season next year and hopefully some sort of premises in the near future.




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        Dorshi Dorshi

Thanks Dorshi!
www.dorshi.co.uk


Young British Foodies

Dorshi: Best Street Food
Young British Foodies