Birmingham. 1991. There’s a Sunday craft and antique fair on the spot where the Registry Office now stands. Every Sunday hordes of people – some enthusiasts, but mostly those with nothing better to do – slope between stands, with a choice of Hank’s Hot Dogs or the Hog Roast guy for when they get hungry. Chris – the taller half of the two Chris’s behind this sauce – asks the burly man who wears sunglasses all year round whether he can sell Thai noodles at the market. He gets laughed out of the door. Within two months the Hog Roasts are gone and Happy Noodle Co are selling out every week. The journey to Gochup has begun.
2012. Birmingham is now holding a pair of Chris’s in their newly manicured hands and both share the same love of South East Asian food. Birmingham has changed, not only aesthetically, but also in the way the city considers food. It has Michelin starred restaurants, a thriving Chinatown, and options stretching far beyond the inner-city ring road. The food stalls at events where the focus is elsewhere have been replaced with a new trend called street food, where different traders supply the food and a focused audience come to eat, drink, and dance the night away. Canoodle is at the forefront of this. One of the earliest traders at Digbeth Dining Club, the two Chris’s gained a cult following for soft shell crab and Cambodian pork curry, amongst others. As the business grew so did the menu, and they quickly added the American-Korean influenced street food brand Kowaca to their repertoire.
Gochup is born. 2021 in notion, though it’s been a consistent in their kitchen for years. Gochup owes its existence to Kowaca; the festivals and the street food events serving crispy squid, Sloppy Joes, and Korean fried chicken to endless queues. Originally from a need for a versatile condiment which was more complex and more interesting than the pure heat of most hot sauces, Gochup is unique in being a gochujang-based ketchup: big on umami and unapologetically garlicky. It stems from the meticulous attention to detail and knowledge of South East Asian food that can only be gained from thirty years of cooking.
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