Today, there’s a whole culture around chefs and cooking. Cookbooks, reality TV, and documentaries glamorize the lives of those who work in kitchens and inspire many people to follow suit.
Before that however, if you chose to make cooking a living, it often happened because you fell into it and couldn’t imagine ever getting out of that world. You worked a job in a restaurant in college, or maybe your family’s pizza parlor, and you got drawn in by the romance and adrenaline of it and ultimately decided; this is what I want to do.
That’s what happened to Cory Burke who grew up in New Hampshire and went to school for business, earning his way working in restaurants. He found his calling and was soon doing any and every job a restaurant has to offer, cooking, bartending, even washing dishes.
After visiting a friend in Charleston in 2004, he fell in love with the city and decide to stay. Cory put his business school training to work and was running a full time restaurant (Where he met his girlfriend Suzanne) a farm stand, and food truck. The allure of doing something new made him come up with a concept, not thought of before, and take his culinary act on the road.
That’s how Roti Rolls was born. Roti Paratha, the style of bread Roti Rolls uses, was discovered by a friend in Singapore, and now it’s the base for all the influences that Cory and Suzanne love. Indian, Korean, Caribbean and even the southern foods of their hometown, Charleston, are all fused together and served on this amazing bread that has been described as a love child between Indian Naan and a croissant. But Roti is more than that. It’s not only the type of bread that Cory and Suzanne’s wrap their creations in, but a way of eating and sharing, and they both have a lot of good stuff to share.
Cory feels his kimchi is one of the best in the country if not the world. They’ve Americanized it; making it a little sweet and not as sour as the Korean version. They also have a vegan coconut green curry with 16 different spices, and a mixture of cauliflower, chick peas, corn, etc. in their bread with rice and candied beets. Plus, they’ll be bringing their most popular dish, the Mother Clucker; twelve spiced chicken they grill with candied onions, pico di gallo made from scratch, salsa verde and queso cotija. To top it off, they are making sides of Indian street corn with goat cheese and curry paste.
And if you catch them at the right time, they’re also hoping to break out one of Cory’s favorite traditions; grabbing a megaphone, climbing to the top of the truck and putting everyone on notice that, “It’s burger time!” Then it’s off to the grill where Cory christens it with champagne and does a limited amount of a specialty burgers.
If this all sound fun, it’s because it is. Cory and Suzanne, some of her sisters and a whole extended family will go on the road with their food truck and RV visiting festivals all across the country. Each year the trip gets a little longer as people at festivals all over the country start to discover this wonderfully eclectic truck and its offerings. It’s even sweeter this year as Cory and Suzanne expect their first child this August. Soon the whole family will take to the highways. But for this year at least it will still be just them. This is their first year at Firefly. They were invited in year one, but couldn’t make it, and are finally getting to The Woodlands in Firefly’s fifth anniversary.
So, if you see Cory and Suzanne, congratulate her on the baby bump and pay no attention to the crazy man on the the roof of his mobile kitchen yelling about burgers, because his decision to leave business school and go on the road to serve great farm to table food to customers out of a truck may seem entirely sane once you’ve tried it.