Roti Stop has two London locations, and founder Bernard ‘Roti King’ Jackson has been serving food at Carnival for over 20 years. Roti Stop won’t be at Carnival in 2015, but Jackson has plenty of Carnival knowledge to impart.
‘One of the main dishes served in Trinidad, my country of birth, is roti, and that’s our main dish. But we also serve a wide cross-section of Caribbean food – rice and peas, jerk chicken, aki and swordfish, and rotis with different curries. We also cater for vegetarians, with dishes that use pumpkin and channa – chick peas.
‘Carnival is so versatile, because you’re dealing with people from so many different cultures, and the demand for food is so great. What makes [being a food vendor at] Carnival really rewarding is seeing the whole set-up in motion after weeks of intense preparation. And also to see satisfied customers, and the enjoyment they get from the food. It’s fun on the day, because when you get used to the whole operation, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.
‘Roti is our most popular item at Carnival. Most other stalls tend not to sell roti, so because that’s our speciality – and also because of our track record and our history at Carnival – we tend to stand out. We’ve served some famous people over the years, including Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke, Rudolph Walker [Patrick Trueman from ‘Eastenders’], and musician Tobago Crusoe.
‘Food is crucial and important to Carnival because it’s part of the culture of the Caribbean people, just as Carnival is part of our culture. It goes hand-in-hand with the music and the whole aspect of the event. People travel to Carnival from far away, and it might be the only chance that some people get to enjoy Caribbean food.’