Newmarket Kitchen members have had great success at the Blas na hEireann Food Awards over the years, with several of our members being nominated for awards and others going on to be awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze. If you have not yet entered, it is not too late as the final closing date for entry is June 15th.
Blas na hEireann celebrated their tenth anniversary last year. With ten years of continuous success and with over 40 categories for 2018, Blas nah hEireann is Ireland’s biggest competition for quality Irish produce. The criteria on which the products are judged is now recognised as an international industry standard. Blas was established with the aim to improve standards and food quality.
The awards event will provide advantage for all attendants as it will give all contestants a greater insight in to the industry and allow for the growth of new relationships with other Irish producers and with buyers.
If you have never heard of the Blas na hEireann Food awards, I have no doubt that you are familiar with their awards logo that can be found on many Irish food products. Research has shown that the Blas accreditation has the highest recognition amongst Irish consumers. Being awarded with a Blas award encourages consumers to buy your products, as it promises a top quality Irish product. The competition produces Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for each category.
The competition sees that the products entered are blind tasted, this creates a fair playing field for all involved. The identifying features on the products are removed before being presented to the judges. The competition is tough as only five finalist place for each category. The awards are a celebration of the best tasting food that Ireland has to offer and the driven producers that make it.
In the last number of years Blas na hEireann has seen an increasing number of Artisan food producers entering and receiving awards in the competition. Blas benefits small-food-producers as it provides an even division of entries. Blas works to help producers of all sizes to grow and develop in to well-known names, making their products recognisable and strengthening brand awareness.
Take a look at the Blas na hEireann key dates for 2018 and for more information on the terms and conditions for entry check out the Blas na hEireann’s website.
17th March- Online entry open
30th April- Early-bird closes
15th June – Final date for entry
June/July- Initial judging
August- finalists notified
4th October- Finalist judging
5th October- workshops and master classes
6th October- Blas nah Eireann awards presented and producer networking events
Starting your own food business can be daunting however, there are many options available to assist you along your journey. Here we give information on the various resources and agencies that will make the process easier for you;
First things first, contact the HSE, they will put you in contact with an appropriate competent authority to register your business which is most often your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO). All food businesses must be registered regardless of the size or where it is operated from - be it your own home, a food truck or a kitchen unit.
Once you have identified the premises you wish to operate from, your EHO will offer you advice on the health and safety aspects of your business and on your proposed plans and ideas. Your EHO will clarify any queries you have regarding your legal obligations under food safety laws and regulations including design and layout, training and food safety management systems. It is always a good idea to engage with a professional food safety officer as they have proven experience and knowledge on meeting the necessary requirements.
Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
Contact your Local Enterprise Office. Your LEO will give you advice and mentoring and provide you with business plans and training programmes to help you find your feet.
Dublin Food chain
The Dublin Food Chain is a marketing and network forum that represents many food/beverage businesses in Dublin. The Dublin Food Chain is a collaborative initiative of Bord-Bia and Local Enterprise Offices in Dublin. They support and mentor SMEs through their journey of starting a food business.
Dublin Food Chain offer:
The Food Safety Authority Ireland (FSAI)
The FSAI offer information on legislation and regulations that are vital when starting a food business. They offer advice and information on food safety training, how to set up your food safety management system, labeling regulations, nutritional content information, and advice on the correct steps involved in product withdrawal/recall.
The FSAI host seminars such as ‘Small Food Business Start-Ups’ where they assist small food businesses or those with the hopes to start a food business. The seminar allows participants to gain advice and hear talks from experts on how to manage food safety, what to expect from an inspection, registering a small food business and information of food safety regulations.
Bord-Bia offers consulting services for SMEs to help improve their strategic capabilities and have a number of specific initiatives;
Bord-Bia vantage: this is an online resource center for small food businesses. It provides information for early stage food businesses including financial product development distributor and export information.
Bord-Bia's Brand Forum: Works with Irish food and drink companies to develop and grow their brands and their business. It provides its members with a range of branding tools that are consumer centric and commercially pragmatic. The Forum provides practical thought leadership and best practise in branding.
The Brand Forum hosts quarterly events, which present its members with an opportunity to step back from daily challenges to be inspired, informed and to connect with industry colleagues. The Brand Forum Events give the opportunity to participants to hear from expert brand speakers from food/beverage industries worldwide. They provide talks from expert grant speakers from the food industry as well as Q&A sessions.
The Kick start your own food business programme
This is a short two day programme that accommodates those with a food idea or those at the very early stages of starting a food business. This programme will provide participants with useful information for starting up a food business.
The covered topics include:
· The role of various agencies such as LEO and Bord-Bia.
· Food safety (HACCP, Nutritional content, labelling)
· The finances involved in setting up your own food business.
· Information of the Irish food sector
· Identification of the pit falls associated with starting your food business
· The role of packaging and branding
· Distribution options and direct selling.
The Food Academy Programme
The Food Academy programme’s aim is to provide small food businesses with a solid foundation to progress on to retail shelves. The ‘Food Academy’ programme promotes entrepreneurship and is designed for people looking to develop and grow their food/beverage business. It is a collaboration between SuperValu, Bord-Bia and The Local Enterprise Office. It is the next step after the ‘kick start your food business programme’ and is delivered through one-to-one mentoring and workshops. The programme involves four workshops where participants will cover six modules.
The modules include the following topics:
· Market Background
· Understanding Consumers
· Technical Issues
· Growing sales
The participants are given the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of SuperValu representatives and will then receive mentorship and expert advice from the panelists, allowing them make any necessary changes to ensure their success. Participants are given the opportunity to trial their product in their local stores over a 12 week period. This allows businesses get real, honest feed-back from consumers.
As we enter the month of May, the sun is starting to make an appearance, which means the Irish festival season is starting to warm up. Regardless of the weather, the season for food events and festivals is fast approaching and we cannot wait!
Food events are the perfect day out for everyone, they are a great way to discover Ireland, support local businesses and are a way to experience some of the best food Ireland has to offer.
Many have free entry and are accompanied with live music, children's activities and all round entertainment for you to really get in the Summer mood.
Here are a list and information on some of the best food events and festivals in Ireland this summer!
31st-4th of June: Bloom, Dublin.
31st- 4th of June: International Food Truck Festival, Limerick.
June 9th: Pizza and Prosecco Festival, Dublin.
June 14th-17th: The Eatyard Crisp Festival, Dublin.
June 15th-17th: Bia Lover Festival of Food, Galway.
June 15th-18th: Taste Dublin, Dublin.
June 17th: The Garden Festival, Limerick.
June 22nd-24th: Body and Soul, Westmeath.
June 25th-30th : Irish Gin and Tonic Festival.
June 29th-July 1st : Seafest, Galway.
July 5th-8th: Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival, Wexford.
July 8th-15th: Ballina Salmon Festival, Mayo.
July 14th-15th: Wing Food Fest, Bray, Wicklow.
July 21st-22nd : Valenica Island King Scallop Festival, Kerry.
August 4th-5th: Beat Yard 2018, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.
August 16th-19th: The Big Grill Festival, Dublin.
August 24th-26th: The Dalkey Lobster Festival, Dublin.
The time has come to meet another one of the great chefs here at Newmarket Kitchen.
Today's blog we get to know Rohan, one of the newest members here in our kitchen.
Rohan is the creator of Rohan's Sauces and with his years of experience and passion for food, we are excited to see what the future holds for Rohan.
When did you decide to become a chef?
I don’t think there was a single moment when I decided to become a chef, I always had a real love of food right from when I was a very young child. I would have cooked dinners at home from age 10, so the first part time job I got on weekends and summers during school, I went straight in to a kitchen and I never really looked back!
Did you have any former training?
I went to Cathal Brugha street and studied professional cookery full time, I qualified in 2001 finishing first in my year and won the JM perpetual trophy, which was pretty cool as it looked a bit like the Sam Maguire. After that, I went on to do an advanced course in ethnic cousin in Cathal Brugha street and a module in HACCP system design.
Where have you previously worked?
I can honestly say I have worked in all parts of the catering industry, I started off working in Avoca, went on to Work in Rolys Ballsbridge and then the Vico in Dalkey, I also worked abroad in France and Australia. When I returned home, I worked agency and a lot of industrial catering. I currently work for the Park Academy Creche group which is amazing, all the food is made from scratch and we don’t use any processed products in our meals. I work on designing the menus and recipes there and it is really rewarding to have a chance to be an influence on the next generation in eating a healthy, balanced diet and educating the palate on all kinds of foods.
What gave you the idea for Rohan’s Pasta Sauce?
While I was working in the Park Academy crèche, one of the big challenges was to get the children to eat all their vegetables. So I started hiding the vegetables in the sauces and making the veg content through the roof. I realised that the children were not the only ones that weren’t eating all the vegetables they should be, and with the recent highlighting of the high sugar, salt and oil content in mainstream sauces, I really felt I could bring a great healthy alternative to the market.
When did you set up your business?
I set up Rohan’s Sauces at the start of 2018, I was lucky enough to be part of the Supervalu Food Academy programme which was great at helping me get the business up and running.
What prompted you to start your food business?
I guess I always wanted to work for myself, I have had some business ideas through the years but never really developed any of them. When I developed Rohan’s Sauces, I really felt I had a great product that was such a simple way to help people eat healthily, that I just had to get it out there.
Is there a chef you admire most? Who and why?
I don’t watch any chefs on TV, I guess it feels like working when I am at home. The chefs that I admire are the ones that taught me what I know in college and in the workplace, there are far too many of them to mention, but I am very grateful to every one of them.
Have you any tips that you think would help someone starting off a food business?
The biggest tip I would give people is know what you’re getting in to, I have seen so many people through the years who thought getting into the food business would be a nice, almost romantic idea. But it is bloody hard work, when you have been on your feet for 17 hour days like I have in the past few weeks, it is anything but romantic. Don’t get me wrong, it is hugely rewarding, but be prepared for the hard work.
What has been your best experience since starting Rohan’s Pasta Sauce?
I think my first day in Killruddery Farmers Market was great, I had a tasting section set up and when a total stranger turns up to taste your creation it is daunting, thankfully almost everyone that tasted the sauces bought them which was amazing, as with a healthy sauce, you can’t recreate the hit you get from all the sugar and salt you would be used to in a pasta sauce, so I was so happy when people appreciated the much more natural flavours in Rohan’s Sauces.
Where can we find your products?
At the moment, I am selling them every Saturday at Killruddery Farmers Market. In May, they will be going into the Wicklow Supervalu stores in the Food Academy section. I will be working to get them into some of the smaller local shops and butchers over the next few weeks.
Do you have any new or exciting plans for Rohan’s Sauces?
Well in development we have Rohan’s Thai Curry Sauces and possibly a Mexican style sauce after that, but at the moment we have just started out so we concentrating on getting a really good quality and consistent product to market and getting the word out there that this is what everyone should be eating.
How have you found your experience at Newmarket Kitchen so far?
Newmarket has been great, the fact its open to me 24/7 is brilliant as I can work around a busy schedule. The equipment in there is fantastic, meaning I can make large batches at a one time and it saves a lot of time. Also Shane and all the staff have been so helpful in lots of ways, not just in the kitchen but in contacts for all sides of the business. It is also great to be in with other start-up businesses, already a few of us have started to help each other out and you can see how it’s such a great propagator for small businesses
Here at Newmarket kitchen we have so many amazing members bringing amazing products to the Irish Food market.
In our member’s spotlight we would like you to meet Zane from the health meal delivery service- Fit Meal!
As an experienced chef, personal trainer and Fitness competitor, Zane is aware of the diet struggles that are faced by clients preventing them from reaching their goals. Fit Meal was created to help people be healthier, happier and fitter and with the delivery service and custom made meals to suit each individual customer, Zane is bringing healthy meals to clients using quality Irish ingredients.
When and why did you decide to become a chef?
That would be really long story, ha-ha. But shortly said I wanted to make my grandparents proud of me and follow their steps. I’m sure they are happy watching me now.
Did you have any former training?
Yes indeed, 5 years of college as a chef followed by 15 years of pure cooking in different places from breakfast to fine dining style, completed Nutrition in advanced sports course, Personal training course, and over 8 years in fitness industry including bodybuilding competitions.
Where did you work as a chef before creating Fit Meal?
In Dublin at the Bewley’s Hotel, The Ballsbridge Hotel and O’Connell’s Donnybrook
What gave you get the idea for Fit Meal?
Helping people to get their fitness results while dieting or simply improving their wellbeing
When did you set up your business?
January 2017 I had my first client K.Harris
What prompted you to start your food-business?
My friends including K. Harris and my ex-Girlfriend who were great supporters in tough times
What are your top tips on staying healthy?
Everything in moderation
What has been your best experience since creating Fit Meal?
Hard to tell what the best experience is, so far I’d say that I’m thankful for all our supporters and clients that can see the value in what we do. That we do something that really works for them, in terms of lifestyle and health improvement.
How many areas does Fit Meal reach?
The South Side Dublin and Dublin City Centre
What is your favourite type of food to cook?
No preference. But I do like to produce Colourful, vibrant, crunchy, fresh and top quality products.
Do you cater for customers with special diet requirements? (Coeliac, vegan etc.?)
Indeed. That is our weapon. We know all of those allergies might be a pain in the neck so we can aim to create custom meals. Our menus are very healthy already as we avoid adding wheat and dairy etc.
Have you any tips that might help a person starting a food business?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Each time you learn something new which pushes you up.
Do you have any new or exciting future plans for Fit Meal?
Fit meal has huge potential in the future, we have our strategy plan which won’t be revealed at this stage.
How have you found your experience in Newmarket Kitchen?
Newmarket kitchen helped us to grow, learn, and speed up the whole process. Shane is always there to give a hand and willing to help. We are here like a big family, supporting each other in tough times and having a laugh when thing gets easier.
I’m definitely recommending NMK to anyone willing to start-up food business.