31 | Mar | 15

Richard Johnson

Force Of Sauce

There’s been a lot written recently about the theft of intellectual property on the streets. Here’s something we wrote in last month’s Guardian. But not everybody out there is getting their ideas lifted and their recipes ripped off. Sure, it happens. But sometimes, just sometimes, everything works out tickety boo….

Take Yogiyo. They started off on the street because, well, it’s where they felt like they belonged. “The energy coming out of street food when we started really excited us” says company founder Benyah Ansah. “Seeing young cooks and entrepreneurs serving amazing dishes and building creative food brands is what inspired us to get going right away.”

And from the look of the new Yogiyo sauce range, it was a good call. “You have the flexibility to mould your brand. We never imagined we would end up selling in shops at the beginning because it’s such a huge leap from nowhere, but we’ve been able to take a step-by-step approach, using street food as a platform to get our products out there and also fund our progress.”

The cooking sauce range has been almost a year in the making. The idea first began when a few customers at the trailer asked whether they could take Yogiyo’s Gochu Jang sauce home. “We use Gochu Jang as a marinade for our Korean-style chargrilled chicken and we also serve it in pots with our bipimbap, (mixed rice) bowls. We gave a few bottles out and had the same customers coming back for more.

“When we decided that we’d try selling it, we thought that there’s no point unless we produce a commercial product fit for retail. So the next few months were spent researching labelling legislation, cooking & bottling processes, shelf life and branding etc. Our first port of call was a Skype consultation Jonathon Lukker from www.smallscalebottling.com, perhaps the best £20 we spent during this process, and we left with all the basics.

“From there we concentrated on tapping into the knowledge of relevant professionals — NCASS, government departments and some helpful retailers and manufacturers all provided crucial support. Of course, the internet was also our best friend. It took quite a long time to grasp every area, but every aspect learned gave us confidence that we’d actually be able to do it.

“Selling at the trailer has been fun, and it was great to see so many regulars buy the sauce and hear about what they’d used it for. Our next step was to expand our reach so we teamed up with upcoming food and drink emporium World of Zing, who placed the sauce online, and take it to some of London’s best weekend food markets — Brockley and Wapping.

At that time we started thinking about how we could get the product on shelves. We’d heard it was a nightmare trying to get in front of buyers, but Selfridges were the first store we contacted and luckily they got straight back to us. So we sent out some samples to more retailers. We got great responses but also quite a few questions about other possible Korean cooking products.

It was actually in January we decided that a whole range would make much more sense than our just our Gochu Jang chilli sauce. Not only would it make more sense on store shelves, but we have all the recipes, we make these things every week for our market customers and people love them.

We’ve had a very full-on start to the year, working in overdrive to get us to this point, but it was worth it when Selfridges were happy to launch the whole range. We’re already speaking to larger retailers and hopefully we’ll be seeing the UK’s first Korean cooking range on shelves up and down the country before the end of the year.

We’ve certainly got no plans to leave the streets soon. Our street food operation’s in a really good place at the moment, we still enjoy it and we’ve calculated how many sauces we’d need to sell each month to replace it — we’re a long way off!