Top chef hatches new novel snacks at unique food pop-up
Experienced chef John Hollywood has brought the sausage roll, that classic hot snack favourite, into the 21 st century at a new pop-up food outlet at Hill Street Hatch in Belfast...and its proving an outstanding success at weekends in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.
Chef at Yugo East, the popular Asian Fusion restaurant at Ballyhackamore in east Belfast, John is behind Roller Boy, a unique hospitality start-up enterprise, that’s just opened at the hatch, the visionary food innovation hub in the entertainment centre.
He’s the latest top chef here to reimagine a traditional, hand-held hot snack. Stevie Higginson, chef/owner of the award-winning Square restaurant in Lisburn has also launched a range of gourmet cheese toasties at Coulter’s, his new high-end eatery in Ballynahinch. And Michael Deane, the Michelin-star chef behind seven eateries in the city including EIPIC, has created luxury burgers at his Deane and Decano restaurant on Belfast’s Lisburn Road.
John started his culinary career aged 15 in Graffiti restaurant on the Ormeau Road in Belfast and then went to cookery school at Dundalk Institute of Technology for two years. He moved back to Belfast and a job in the kitchen of the Barking Dog. He then decided to specialise in pastry and moved to Tedford’s as a pastry chef under Alan Foster. He subsequently worked as a pastry chef at Muddlers Club, a Michelin star restaurant, before moving to Yugo to broaden his skills with Asian flavours and techniques under Gerard McFarland. He helped to open Yugo East during the pandemic.
Hill Street Hatch, the location of Roller Boy, has already led to a new hospitality venture providing a different take on grilled cheese toasties with the successful launch of the Toast Office pop-up that’s just moved to a new outlet on Hill Street.
John explains: “Roller Boy is serving a menu of savoury pastry favourites led by the classic sausage roll, with contemporary twists. Homemade sides such as beans, sauces and coleslaw, the humble jambon and the iconic sausage roll bap are all be on the menu. I am delighted to see the Roller Boy concept really come to life because I’ve long been interested in developing different hot snacks to be eaten easily on the go.
“After weeks working on the concept with the hatch team and playing with new takes on the humble sausage roll, we’re looking forward to introducing more people to our tasty and different eat-on-the-go snacks. What we’ve done is to take a simple savoury pastry and elevate it with modern flavours.”
The traditional sausage roll – meat, usually pork, wrapped in pastry – has changed little since it was introduced to Britain from France in the 19th century as a cheap street food and subsequently became known as a quintessentially British snack.
The enterprising chef has carried some of the popular Asian flavours from Yugo East into the meaty rolls such as honey and Szechuan. There’s also a roll with porter and wholegrain mustard. In addition, Roller Boy is revising desserts from another era including school dinner stalwarts such as jam roly poly pudding.
A chef with experience over 16 years, John has created a fun menu that taps into our nostalgic palettes as snackers tuck into reimagined childhood favourite foods.
Ryan Crown, a graphic designer and co-founder of the hatch with partner Ema O’Kane, continues: “After toasting the outstanding success of The Toast Office, our last pop-up, we’re delighted that Roller Boy, the second food concept at the hatch, has opened and is already proving a popular addition to the developing food culture in Cathedral Quarter.
“We continue to be overwhelmed with the success of The Toast Office and the hundreds of customers who have queued outside the hatch each week to get their grilled cheese sandwich. We’re confident the appetite for Roller Boy and its modern take on sausage rolls and fun, nostalgic desserts will be just as strong in the weeks ahead.”
Roller Boy – the name influenced by the children’s book about ice skating, opens every week at Hill Street Hatch every Thursday to Sunday from 9am. Ryan and Ema created the hatch concept in the city’s hospitality and entertainment hub, before the coronavirus pandemic closed the area’s restaurants, cafes and bars.
It became a popular option for people seeking hot snacks in the city. They set up the hatch to stimulate culinary innovation in takeaway foods in particular here, offering a fully-equipped kitchen and a shop window that enables chefs to create original snack dishes and sell them directly to customers. They were keen to do something “really creative” for chefs and food entrepreneurs here who had been badly affected by the pandemic. The objective was to give them an opportunity to show their creativity and, perhaps, create new food enterprises that would provide a regular income.
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