A jubilant Wayne McCall of Armagh’s Glaze and Roll street food enterprise vowed to build on the success of being crowned the best in Northern Ireland at the recent Food Truck Festival by continuing to invest in its food and service.
The company was among a host of Northern Ireland snack food trucks taking part in the inaugural festival at Down Royal that showcased the variety and quality of products now being served from trucks and stalls here.
Wayne, a self-taught chef, says that Glaze and Roll has taken years to develop as the successful brand it is today and puts its outstanding success down to “persistence, quality, continuing investment and an amazing workforce”. It is already targeting the Republic of Ireland as an export growth market for next year.
“We are working on a range of new taste experiences including gluten-free snacks for our customers and to ensure that Glaze and Roll continues to be best in the business,” he continues.
“Our ethos is to support local ingredients and products where we can and to showcase as much local produce throughout our dishes as possible, with a major focus on creating restaurant standard dishes, street food style.”
His success is based on a focus on restaurant quality meals and snacks within an original and regularly changing menu. He’s also dedicated to the highest hygiene standards and sustainability. A good example of this is the investment in a low-emission generator that was part-funded by the local council and is helping him to peg energy costs. The company had already invested in sustainable packaging for the future.
“Our new product development team is currently working on a highly innovative range of dishes for export markets which we hope to launch in early 2023,” he explains.
Wayne is at the head of a revolution in street food here in the six years since Food NI’s successful Year of Food and Drink in 2016. One of the key objectives of the year-long focus was to improve the quality of outdoor snack operators. It’s proved successful. As a result, Northern Ireland now offers an extensive range of food trucks providing Asian, European, Mexican and North American cuisines as well as traditional fish and chips and burgers.
A native of Armagh, Wayne (38), a passionate foodie, started working in the food industry at the age of 13 after school, at weekends and in his holidays. It was an experience that encouraged him to develop a career in hospitality after college by signing up to become a franchisee for an O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich Bar in Omagh,
“Running my own café at the age of 21 was quite a challenge and an extremely steep learning curve for me. I had to develop essential management skills such as ordering products, managing staff and balancing the books, as well as essential catering expertise very quickly,” he explains.
He then launched a quality restaurant, also in Omagh, that focused on locally sourced ingredients for its original menu of quality food. He subsequently diversified to develop an opportunity identified in outdoor catering.
He set up the catering venture in his hometown and developed substantial business from a range of corporate and private customers including weddings. He again built the business around a host of local suppliers such as Pinkerton’s bacon and pork, Ballylisk of Armagh milk and handcrafted soft cheese, fruit infused balsamic vinegars from Burren Balsamics in Richhill and Harnett’s culinary oils from Waringstown.
“There’s such a superb group of quality-led artisan food producers in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Food Heartland initiative that I didn’t have far to look for exceptional ingredients for all our original meals and snacks,” he explains.
However, the business he had built up through continuous investment, attention to detail and sheer hard work, especially in terms of quality meals and customer service, fell victim to the Covid pandemic and the long-term shuttering of hospitality here.
Covid led Wayne to pivot the business with a sharper focus on outdoor catering using food trailers under the Glaze and Roll brand.
“We had considerable experience of outdoor catering from mobile kitchens at events such as Balmoral Show and various agricultural events around Northern Ireland. Most of these, of course, were cancelled due to the pandemic. What I decided to do was to develop a new market at different locations such as country parks and other popular venues.
“Our new pitch at Loughgall Park is an excellent example of this approach and is working exceptionally well. We also set up kiosks at various locations offering locally roasted coffee, tea and good quality snacks,” he adds. “There’s now a growing recognition across this community that many food trucks offer excellent snacks and great value for money.”