Emily McCorkell has just chained up her bike and bought a mobile food trailer to help boost sales of her low-and-slow cooked meats and tasty sauce.
She previously used the bike to market and sell her American-style BBQ sauces around delis, small grocers and butchers in Londonderry, which Emily, a native of Philadelphia, now calls home.
“It just wasn’t practical attempting to market the sauces and grow my small artisan food business on bike or foot…and especially when it rain, which it tends to do do frequently here,” she explains.
“It’s a mobile kitchen which enables me to take to the road and make brisket and pulled pork at festivals and private events throughout the North West in particular.
“I’m launching at the big street food festival in Londonderry on 19-21 July.
“I also have a cotton-candy machine. Cotton-candy was created in Tennessee by two Americans in the 1800s, so it’s fitting to continue the American flavours for the kids... and the kid in us all.”
Emily brought her passion for American-style barbecues and grilled meats with her from the US to Londonderry.
It was in 2005, as a graduate of the University of Missouri, that she landed in Northern Ireland for the first time, a volunteer mentor to troubled teenagers in the city.
What was originally intended as a short stint was turned on its head when Emily met Norman, a local businessman, married, and made Londonderry her home.
She’s now the mother of two young boys and among the city’s vibrant cadre of artisan food enterpreneurs, one with a mission to promote grilled meats and spicy sauces.
“Grilled meats cooked low and slow tend to be healthier because fat is able to drip away, leaving less fat on the food itself,” continues Emily, who also pens articles on healthy eating for a leading US food health magazine.
Her sauces also benefit from being cooked slowly. Choosing Lo&Slo as the distinctive brand for her business was an easy decision and reflects her commitment to low temperature and slow cooking techniques which, she argues, “ensure a healthier product with greater flavour”
Emily’s sauces, both natural and vegan-friendly, are based on premium ingredients and recipes she’s developed from her experience in the US and her love of grilled foods.
She’s a talented, dedicated and driven entrepreneur.
Emily - a committee member of the new food network in chaired by James Huey of Walled City Brewery - is about to launch no fewer than four original sauces for grilled foods.
She continues: “I have a secret ghost chilli hot sauce and ghost chilli and dulse seasoning grinder, as well as two other seasoning grinders — one mustard-based flavour that’s great with brisket and one paprika-based that’s lovely with slow-cooked pork.”
Ghost chilli is a chilli pepper grown in north east India and is reckoned to be one of the world’s hottest, she explains.
Emily set up Lo&Slo Sauces in 2017 to develop a range of authentic American smoked BBQ sauces and dry rubs for enhancing meat flavours.
“While I’ve always been keen on healthy food, setting up a small company was quite a departure from my background in charity work and youth mentoring,” she explains. “I’d always loved cooking and entertaining though, and was keen to explore the potential of a food enterprise, particularly when the children were settled at school in the city.”
Emily’s a creative person naturally, so thinking up flavours, meals, and ideas for two, three, or four years down the road she finds exciting.
Her love of cooking and recipe creation, she adds, came from her parents, especially her father, in Pennsylvania.
Her focus is on “an old- fashioned way to cooking, simple, creative, nutrient-dense food” from ingredients carefully sourced from local farms and other suppliers in the region.
She initially launched two sauces, Sweet & Smoky Barbecue Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Vinegar Mop, with help from the Foodovation Centre for food and drink innovation at the North West Regional College.
Her interest in a food enterprise was also stimulated by the growth in festivals and food fairs such as the LegenDerry food event and the Walled City Market..
“I saw people didn’t care who sat next to them or who they were buying food from.Food here is breaking down a lot of the barriers that once divided people,” continues Emily. “It’s the delicious mortar that binds individuals and societies together, masking the jagged edges and sharp corners”.