Chef Wayne McCall is a key figure in the revolution driving ‘street food’ across Northern Ireland that has placed quality, taste, freshness and originality at the top of the menu for outdoor venues
Wayne (38), a native of Armagh, is the founder and managing director of Glaze and Roll, a progressive catering business specialising in premium street food trailers for tasty meals and snacks at outdoor venues, such as Gilford Forest Park, near Markethill in Co Armagh, and also at ‘coffee-on-the-go’ kiosks.
A passionate ‘foodie’, Wayne started working in the industry at the age of 13 after school, at weekends and in his holidays. “I worked part-time at Linwoods in Armagh for pocket money when the company baked a range of breads and also processed fresh milk. It’s now a global leader in the processing and marketing of healthy seeds such as milled flaxseed, sunflowers and goji berries. What my stint at Linwoods did was to give me a solid grounding in business discipline and procedures,” he remembers.
The experience encouraged Wayne to start a career in hospitality after college by signing up to become a franchisee for an O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich Bar, the Irish snack food brand which was established in 1988 and now has over 100 franchised cafes in 10 countries, in Omagh in 2004. “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. “I learned the importance of providing food that was consistently fresh, tasty and backed with excellent customer service,” he adds.
The next stage in Wayne’s journey in hospitality was the launch of a quality restaurant, also in Omagh, that also focused on locally sourced ingredients for its original menu of quality food. He subsequently diversified to develop an opportunity identified in outdoor catering. “We’d had approaches to the restaurant from people who loved our food and wanted us to cater for a range of events including corporate occasions, weddings and wakes. This offered better scope to grow the enterprise and secure better margins. It also made good business sense,” he adds.
He set up the catering venture in his hometown of Armagh 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 and attention to detail especially in terms of quality meals and customer service was to fall victim to the Covid pandemic and the shuttering of hospitality.
“It was awful. My hospitality business was wiped out overnight. I had invested heavily to create a state-of-the art kitchen and other facilities in Armagh and had around 20 people on the payroll, a great team that I was keen to retain,” he continues.
Covid led Wayne to pivot the business, a Food NI member company, to a sharper focus on outdoor catering using food trailers. “We had considerable experience of catering from mobile kitchens at events such as Balmoral Show and various agriculture 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 parks and other venues.
“Our pitch at Gosford Forest 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.
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 has continued to invest in the business. A good example of this is a low-emission generator that was part-funded by the local council and is helping to peg power costs.
“There’s a world of difference in terms of quality and taste from Glaze and Roll foods,” he continues. “Our overall approach is to offer restaurant quality and original meals from our mobile kitchens. Our food looks, tastes good and has been developed by a team of experienced and highly skilled chefs,” he says.