What happens when a chef and a dining room manager and sommelier start tossing around ideas during a long shift? In March 2016, Mathew Yamali and David Jagodzinski launched Denver-based Roll It Up Sushi Truck, serving restaurant-style sushi and bringing all the supplies and expertise needed to teach groups sushi-rolling at private events
Yamali grew up in Rochester, New York, and began working as a cook by the age of 14. Two years later, he was hired by California Rollin sushi bar and then worked for Longhorn steakhouse, becoming one of the company’s youngest corporate trainers and helping open restaurants in the northeast.
“After graduating from college with a degree in business management, I decided to live in a van and travel the states and fell in love with Colorado the first time. A few years after being home, I flew back out to visit friends and landed a job as a chef at Perry’s Steakhouse in Centennial,” he says. “I moved with the idea that I was going to start my own business, and I was almost 100 percent sure it was going to be a food truck.”
Writing a list of the 10 most important things in his life, freedom, travel, food and happiness landed in the top four. “All fit very well with a food truck,” he says.
With sushi being one of the few foods that enters his dreams at night, Yamali concluded that if he could put that passion to work Denver would be hooked. He says, “I dared to dream Coloradans would be OK with eating sushi out of a truck in a landlocked state.”
However, the food truck business “isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows. I work over a 100 hours a week,” he shares. “Also, I get to take four months off a year, so it’s not all 100-hour weeks!”