Union StUnion St

By Matt

Slaaw

It’s mid-July and just when we were about to give up all hope of ever removing our waterproofs, the summer has finally decided to show its face with an apologetic shrug of the shoulders and a few days of blissful sunshine. Across the city, people are inspired to ditch the hot dinners and indulge in something light, bright and healthy – a mood that recent graduate and travel-loving foodie Sophie is keen to capture.

Sophie is the fresh face behind Sheffield’s newest pop-up, Slaaw. Bright, energetic and full of ideas, she has made the humble salad the star of her culinary show – bringing it into the limelight after years of sitting limply on the side-lines as an obligatory garnish.

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She graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2015 and set off inter-railing around Europe, munching her way from country to country sampling the best local dishes as she went. When she returned to Sheffield and the realities of a 9-5 office job, Sophie struggled with adapting to the endless days tucked away behind a desk.

“I was always dreaming about starting my own business,” she explains, and during a short break in Copenhagen this year, Sophie was hit with the realisation that she could actually give it a shot. “I was standing in this incredible salad bar in Copenhagen, surrounded by the most colourful and exciting selection of ingredients I’d ever seen. There were vegetables I didn’t even recognise sitting side by side with familiar favourites that had been turned into really amazing-looking dishes. I was just blown away by it.”

Having grown up in a family where wholesome home-cooking was the norm, she had always been a lover of nutritious nosh. However, what inspired her most was the striking visual effects that fresh, vibrant ingredients had on the plate (and palate!) – people do eat first with their eyes after all.

She set about creating Slaaw – an exciting move from the office to the kitchen, where the next few weeks of her life were spent peeling, chopping, spiralising, mixing and marinating. When she launched her first stall at the Sheffield Food Festival in May 2016, she was taken aback by the reception her salads got and she paid close attention to what worked and what didn’t.

“People loved the colourful salads. You could see their eyes drawn to those things on the stall that were most visually appealing. And they also loved to mix and match.” Sophie found that people loved her bold flavour combinations as much as she did.

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Salads suddenly didn’t have to be all about healthy-eating or ‘diet food’. Wholesome, yes. Fresh, of course. Packed full of nutrients, sure. But they are also delicious and filling, with the option of adding toppings like chia seeds, cheese and chicken.

“I enjoy mixing and matching flavours from around the world,” she enthuses, and just looking at some of her favourite salads, her love of travelling is obvious – her ever-popular Raw Thai Salad sits beautifully next to Get Freekeh and Mexican Quinoa. “I try to make sure that all the colours of the dish complement each other. I get really excited about interesting coloured ingredients like candied beetroot, which just look so beautifully appetizing.”

Since the Sheffield Food Festival, Slaaw has been popping up at various events, from Go Sky Ride to Nether Edge Market. She sold out within a couple of hours at Sharrowvale Market and now has two wedding bookings in the diary.

Slaaw salads are now available at Ink and Water, which is something Sophie is really proud of – with its design focus, could there be a better place to launch her edible arty ensembles?

So what’s next for Sheffield’s newest start-up? Luckily for those working in town, she’ll be setting up in the ground floor of Union Street every Tuesday from Tuesday 26th July, where she plans to try out some exciting new creations. Not one for sitting back and admiring her success so far, Sophie has a million ambitions, plans and ideas bubbling away.

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Her bliss balls (not-so-naughty sweet treats) are her newest invention. The lemon and coconut ball looks and tastes too good to be healthy, but Sophie ensures us that this is thanks to the natural goodness of dates and cashews. Never has a burst of protein-packed energy tasted so good.

In the long term? “I would love to study to become a health coach. I am really interested in the whole-person approach to health. It’s not just about diet or exercise, or even both. I like the idea of bringing vitality and happiness to life through everything we do – and that is something that can partly come from the food we eat. If tucking into one of my salads can play a small part in someone’s overall well-being, than that is fantastic.”

You can sample one of Slaaw’s salads every Tuesday at Union Street, from 26th July.

 

You can sample one of Slaaw’s salads on Tuesday 26th July at Union St, and follow Slaaw

on Instagram here, Twitter here, Facebook here, and on the website here

(all links open as a new window)

 

Article written and editted by Kate Reeves-Brown, a freelance food writer based at Union St;

https://twitter.com/katereevesbrown

Matt
About Matt
Matt co-ordinates Union St and Champions Enterprise Nation in Sheffield. For feedback, questions or suggestions please email matt@union-st.org
Tea Break with: Sophie Lane of Slaaw