Think of a waffle and most people envision them drizzled with chocolate or topped with strawberries and cream.
The business was set up by friends James Timmins and Julie Jefferis last year after a trip to Colombia.
“Lots of the restaurants and big chains [in Colombia] had lots of savoury crepes on the menu in the restaurants with absolutely amazing flavours,” Timmins tells Food Spark. “We saw them and we loved how they were super fresh and relatively cheap. We watched people share them and we thought it was a really nice social food type. We thought we’d bring something a little similar back here but make it interesting, so we made it waffles.”
Timmins and Jefferis previously worked together at Wimbledon tennis club in the players’ restaurant. While they loved high-end hospitality, they wanted to play their own game in the industry.
There are four savoury options on the Utter Waffle menu, along with three sweet options for those who prefer a more traditional take.
“We actually stuff the waffles during cooking, which is what makes our waffles so unique,” explains Timmins. “When you bite into them you have fillings inside, and that’s what sets us aside from all these waffle companies that mainly do sweet ones and just put chocolate and banana on top of the waffle. We do mainly savoury, and you can find steak and caramelised onion in a waffle.”
Seasonal changes to the menu are also planned, as well as Christmas additions.
Familiar flavours in a different format
Current savoury choices include The Vatican, a waffle stuffed with pesto and mozzarella, topped with tomatoes, black olives, pine nuts and a balsamic glaze, as well as Wanna Pizza Me, a waffle filled with chorizo, pepperoni, homemade tomato passata and mozzarella, topped with Grana Padano, basil aioli and spicy honey.
Timmins’ dad has also contributed to the menu with his recipe, stuffing a waffle with spicy Mexican pork and topping it with jalapeno cheese, tomatoes, guacamole and tortilla chips – described as a new version of the fajita.
There’s also My Big Fat Greek Vegan Waffle, filled with roasted red pepper and thyme and topped with beetroot hummus, coconut feta, olives and caramelised onions.
“We tried to avoid the 14 main allergens as much as possible and we just wanted a real variety,” says Timmins. “We wanted quite familiar flavours that weren’t too intimidating, because the idea is very new and different. We wanted some classic flavour combinations that people would look at and feel familiar and would feel that they recognised. Food is getting more interesting and more intricate. Savoury crepes are a thing, sweet pizzas are a thing, so why not savoury waffles?”
On the sweet side, there are waffle soldiers that come dunked in cinnamon apple, cream, Biscoff crumble, fudge and salted caramel; cherry compote, cream, milk and white chocolate and chocolate shavings; or fresh lemon juice and sugar.
Ways to stand out from the crowd
Big selling points are the waffles are gluten-free, the food is perfect to pop on Instagram feeds and Utter Waffle’s focus on sustainability, according to Timmins.
“In terms of our set-up, we don’t use any single-use plastics, which is what everyone wants to see at the moment,” he comments. “In the food we use minimal amounts of palm oil, which is quite damaging to rainforests and orangutan environments, and any palm oil we use we make sure it’s sourced sustainability. Everyone is producing great food at the moment in London and that’s where you can differentiate and attract a customer base by your responsibility.”
Utter Waffle trades out of a vintage Ford Transit called Reggie that has been converted into a food truck, with a second van on the cards due to the demand to cater for private events.
It has also been chosen by Kerb to take part in its three-month training programme after being spotted by a scout who tried its food at a London market. This means Utter Waffle will expand its trading to Kerb’s markets in West India Quay, Canary Wharf, King’s Cross and St Katherine’s Dock.
Timmins believes Kerb is going to be crucial to helping Utter Waffle overcome the challenge of changing the perception of waffles as a sweet eat.
“We lose a lot of customers from people assuming we are going to be serving sweet food, so they don’t think it’s going to be appropriate for their lunch, when actually the people that try it always come back and they always bring a friend,” he says. “Kerb has an amazing platform. They have lots of followers on social media and things like that, so we think they are going to be a really good boost to communicate the food and get people to understand it.”