Rosh set up Hop & Roll in early 2019 after noticing a gap in the UK street food market for Sri Lankan food. Inspired by the cuisine of her childhood and armed with her mother and grandmother’s old recipes, the passionate cook got to work creating a smorgasbord of beautiful dishes that would transport people from the bustling streets of London to the rolling green hills of Sri Lanka.
After impressing KERB organisers and traders with her Sri Lankan hoppers filled with coconut and onion sambols and various meat and fish curries, and short eats like mutton rolls, Rosh secured a place on KERB’s InKERBator programme, where she’s been learning all the tricks of the trade from the experts.
Rosh’s parents came to the UK from Sri Lanka in the 50’s and so she was brought up eating their food at home. In central London there’s only two Sri Lankan restaurants and she was fed up of asking people if they’d tried Sri Lankan food only for them to say “I’ve tried Indian.” The cuisine is not known in the UK and so Rosh saw an opportunity to bring to light the different flavours and highlight how unique Sri Lankan food is. She tested her menu on family and friends and went through about three or four rounds of tweaking the recipes and texture to make sure it was authentic. Two of the recipes for Sambols came from her mother and she put her own twist on them; Devilled Potatoes for example aren’t usually served in a Hopper, but she’s combined Sri Lankan short eats and incorporated meat and vegetables so that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
She chose to set up a street food business because it’s the lowest point of entry into the food industry. Rosh said she had always wanted to be with KERB (the street food membership organisation in London) and it was her mission to do a workshop with them. Initially she was asked if she’d like to do a taste and cook session for KERB traders at an event. After a successful trial, she and the team were asked to become a permanent fixture. At KERB she was assigned a mentor – a street food specialist who provides advice to businesses on how to attract customers, as well as leading them through the branding and menu process. It was here that she met other street food traders and learned the tricks of the trade.
When Covid-19 broke out and lockdown measures came into force across the UK, all street food markets closed and trading for many food businesses ceased temporarily. The Hop & Roll team began dispatching Hopper Kits for UK wide sale, building up a loyal following online with customers posting videos and images of themselves re-creating hoppers at home.
As of the 18th July, Hop & Roll will be back trading at Venn Street Market in Clapham and hope to continue with their Supper Clubs when it’s safe to do so. Rosh’s menu caterers for both vegan and meat eaters alike, making the perfect tasty, fulfilling and nourishing dish for busy commuters and those looking for an authentic Sri Lankan dish to re-create affordably at home.
Post Covid-19, the dream for Rosh is to invest in a semi-permanent pop-up at Boxpark or at Kerb’s market halls. Alternatively, she’d love a casual dining set-up where office workers can walk past and grab a Hop and Roll lunch whilst on their break.
Key Learnings (Healthy food innovative approaches in food service)
- Tapping into a cuisine that didn’t have a big customer base
- Starting up a street food venture on a relatively low budget
- Ability to go from street food to delivering to the community during Covid-19
- Ability to cater for vegans and meat eaters alike
- Reinventing traditional recipes passed down from previous generations
- Delivering hot, affordable, nutritious food to busy commuters
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Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hop_roll/
Website – https://www.hopandroll.co.uk/