Innovation award for home-made sushi, and more
A BUSINESS inspired by a packed lunch with a difference was among the winners at this year's Blackmore Vale Media Taste of Dorset Awards.
Myra Relativo-Elgee, who lives in Sherborne, was born in the Philippines, where she studied at a cookery college and quickly developed a flair for sushi.
The dish became a family favourite with husband Paul Elgee and their son Wade, who started taking it to school for lunch. Requests from teachers quickly followed as word got around that Wade had something special in his lunchbox and, before long, he was taking additional boxes to school as orders for his mother's home-made speciality started to roll in.
Paul, who used to work in aviation, spotted a business opportunity and asked his local delicatessen for feedback. The team at Sabins thought it was the best sushi they had tasted outside London and, after further encouragement from West Dorset District Council, AS Sushi and More was established in February 2011.
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Taste of Dorset judges Brett Sutton of Sherborne's Eastbury Hotel and Michael Michaud of Peppers by Post and Seaspring Seeds were equally impressed, and chose AS Sushi and More as this year's Innovation winner.
Based in Paul and Myra's home, the business produces sushi, and more, which is available from local delicatessens, restaurants and farmers' markets. Their fine cuisine can also be purchased by collection, delivery and overnight postage, and the team also offers an outside catering service and sushi classes.
Paul says sushi is perfect for gatherings from corporate events to drinks parties. The food can either be supplied ready-made or you can get hands-on and craft your own under the guidance of specialist sushi chefs, who can come to your home or arrange a suitable venue for larger functions.
The AS Sushi and More range includes nigiri and maki sushi. Nigiri sushi is the dish most often found at sushi bars, and created by placing ingredients on top of bite-size sushi rice blocks, and Myra incorporates fresh salmon and tuna, smoked eel and trout, king prawn, Japanese omelette and asparagus. Maki sushi is made by creating rolls by wrapping sushi rice and other ingredients in roasted seaweed nori sheets. Myra's include smoked trout, carrots and red pepper, pickled radish and cucumber, crab meat and Cajun spice. The list of accompaniments features soy sauce, wasabi (often called Japanese horse radish because of its distinctive pungent taste) and pickled ginger.
"Sushi doesn't have to incorporate fish - it can be vegetarian. The 'and more' means we can also introduce other Japanese foods. We also do tempura, with prawns and shitaki mushrooms deep-fried in a very light batter," Paul explained.
Myra's sushi was selected as part of a Dorset hamper presented to the Queen during her visit to Sherborne earlier this year, and was also on the shelves of Fortnam and Mason through the summer. Closer to home, the colourful cuisine received a great response from customers at shows including the Royal Bath and West and Dorset County Show, and are a regular at Dike and Son in Stalbridge.
Paul and Myra strive to source ingredients as locally as possible, and use suppliers including Mere Fish Farm and Dorset Down Mushrooms. Apart from providing them with a useful outlet (they've built up a very loyal base of customers at markets in Sherborne, Bridport, Wells and Bath) farmers' markets have also put them in touch with some excellent, and very helpful, producers. "One of the nicest things is the people that we're getting to meet," Paul said. "People in the local food industry are passionate about what they do and also very willing to share their knowledge and experience. We would like to thank all of the people who have been so supportive since we started."
To find out more about AS Sushi and More, call 07985 100052, email email@example.com or visit www.dorsetsushi.co.uk