Ginger and Chilli is one of the protagonists of Scotland’s street food scene. The man behind the popular fuchsia and yellow logo is bringing all his knowledge of Asian cuisine coupled with the best Scottish supplies to Glasgow’s street food markets.
We had the chance to catch up with Ronan to talk about mixing Asian and Scottish flavours, his beginnings in the food industry and his hopes for the future.
Ginger and Chilli is a celebration of Asian food, but you also make extensive use of local produce. How do you put the two together? Has it ever been hard to stick to this proposition?
We are so lucky to live in Scotland and have in my opinion one of the world’s best larders on our doorstep. The idea of “eat global, think local” coined by Glasgow favourite Stravaigin is something that really interests me. It’s hard not be inspired by the produce that this country provides. Whether it’s langoustines from the West Coast, pork from the Bridge of Orchy or venison from Roy Bridge. This, combined with my love of Asian food, makes for a great celebration and I really want to explore this further moving forward with my business.
You are involved with Glasgow's new food market, Platform at Argyle Street, rose from the ashes of The Arches nightclub. What has the public response been like?
The response has been amazing. It’s such an iconic building and it was a very sad day for Glasgow when it closed its doors for the last time. People are delighted about the reopening and reconversion as a creative space. The whole idea of giving independent businesses like mine a platform to trade three days a week in a city centre location is incredible.
Managing a street food business involves dealing with a lot of different aspects, from branding, to keeping in touch with markets and events organisers, and of course, the food. Do you do everything yourself? How do you keep all the plates spinning? Any tips for our readers?
This is a great question and one I ask myself on a daily basis. At the moment, I pretty much do everything myself. I could literally write a book about my experiences over the last couple of years. I don’t think people realise how difficult running a street food business is. From the outset it looks very cool and very romantic. The reality is quite different. Passion will only get you so far. There are so many aspects to running a successful business. I’ve had to learn quickly on a variety of fronts to make it work. For me it’s easy to lose focus on why you started it in the first place, ultimately it’s all about the food though. Good food and belief in what you are doing will always prevail! For anyone reading who wants to make the jump into the world of street food I have a few words of wisdom. Do your research, have a story, create a business plan and try to focus on providing good quality food. Your brand is also something to really think about, it’s important to try and stand out from the crowd.
You haven't always worked in the food industry. How did the transition happen and what were the difficulties?
My previous background was in the in the creative industries. Cooking for me has always been another way of expressing myself so it feels like a natural progression. I got married a few years ago and took on the challenge of taking care of the food at our wedding. It was this experience that really started Ginger & Chilli. It was a real success and gave me the confidence to try out a few pop ups in and around Glasgow. That gave me a bit of a platform to approach some street food events and I’ve not looked back since. It really has been a whirlwind of a year. I don’t come from a catering background so the step up was interesting, but I’m a quick leaner and had lots of people who helped along the way.
Where does your love for food come from?
One of the main memories of my childhood is my grandmother in the kitchen cooking soda bread. She was an excellent baker and cook who would make the most of what was available. Through her cooking I discovered my love for food, baking and local produce, something that endures with me to this day.
You have recently been guest on STV, how was the telly experience?
The STV experience was fantastic. I loved every minute of it and would like to do more. I would love to have my own show one day. Jamie Oliver better watch out lol…
What's the dream?
My mum always says “aim high Ronan”. Cookery school, my own TV show and a book deal would be nice.
To stay up to date with Ginger and Chilli at events & on social:
4th-6th May @ The British Street Food Awards 2018
18th-20th May @ The Scottish Street Food Festival
Facebook: Ginger & Chilli
#strEATtalk is our narrative series that shines a spotlight on Scotland's culinary scene, focusing on the journeys and stories of up and coming food innovators. Follow #strEATtalk as we get to know the people who are making our nation taste better!