St James Quarter's new Bonnie & Wild resident, Kochchi, on Sri Lankan street food and celebrity fans
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It’s been a busy year for Glasgow-based Suki Jayaratne and Shehan Fernando - the 34-year-olds behind Scotland’s first Sri Lankan street food business, Kochchi. After working as mobile caterers at music festivals and on sets, including Amazon series Good Omens and Batgirl, and winning the People’s Choice Prize at the recent Scottish Street Food Awards, the duo is now setting up shop in the former CHIX slot at Bonnie & Wild at the St James Quarter, Edinburgh.
They’ll be there from July 18, with a menu that includes their signature kotthu curry, as well as the savoury crepes that are hoppers, and hot deville dishes.
We spoke to Jayaratne about the move.
How did you meet and what is it like being in business together?
We met through mutual friends back in 2009. We have very similar values and outlook in life so it was easy to become business partners and decide on the direction we wanted to take the company and values we wanted to echo.
What were you doing before Kochchi?
I was in sales and business development for over a decade. Shehan was in the hospitality sector for care homes as well as involved in running family hotels and restaurants in Sri Lanka.
How will being in B&W compare to serving al-fresco street food?
You can imagine the constraints with a mobile kitchen, from battling the outdoor elements to working in a small space. B&W will definitely be a big change for sure! However we will definitely bring in the street food vibes indoors.
Any other businesses you rate in B&W?
We have the utmost respect for all the vendors in B&W. It’s a dream come true to showcase our Sri Lankan cuisine among industry recognised and celebrity chefs like Tony Singh, Gary Maclean and Jimmy Lee.
What was it like working on the film sets?
It was amazing having the opportunity to feed the cast and crew and also a great experience being on a set and seeing the production side of things. I was a bit starstruck when Leslie Grace came up to our trailer. She was on the phone to someone and I could hear her saying; “Kochchi is the place we got the food from - it was amazing'. The director of Good Omens and Sherlock, Douglas Mackinnon, messaged us on Instagram to say the food was lovely, but unfortunately we never really got a chance to speak to David Tennent or Michael Sheen.
Do you hope that the menu will evolve or will you stick with your specialities?
We're keeping our specialities but we will be expanding our menu according to seasonality. Sri Lankan food is very versatile and there's a vast amount of dishes that haven't been introduced to our menu yet.
How did it feel to win the People's Choice Prize last month?
We were very humbled and honoured to win this year’s People Choice Award by majority vote. We set out to introduce our cuisine to Scotland and to get a response was unbelievable. I believe the event had an attendance of over three thousand people over the weekend.