This year Focus Friday is teaming up with the SuperValu Food Academy to bring you the best new Irish food producers, and tell you all about their products. Today, we chat to Brian and Annmarie from the Tipperary Kitchen Artisan bakery, all about their award winning chocolate biscuit cake and marvellous meringues. In collaboration with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise offices, SuperValu have created the Food Academy Programme, where we work with and nurture over 200 businesses from start up to getting their product on our shelves
Tell us all about your gorgeous product!
Our Holycross Chocolate Biscuit Cake & Marvellous Meringues are iconic, traditional Irish treats with our own modern twist. They’re a nod to more nostalgic times but could never be mistaken as “simple”. We use fresh, local ingredients and high-end Belgian chocolate in our products, giving them an element of luxury and indulgence while our chefs prepare them with the utmost care; by hand and in small batches.
What inspired you to create the Tipperary Kitchen Artisan Bakery?
Chocolate biscuit cake has always been an accessible treat, but its quality has never been a sure thing. We wanted to bring a consistently decadent, creamy chocolate biscuit cake to Ireland and become a trusted brand in doing so. Our meringues were a lot simpler to develop – they’re one of Ann Marie’s favourite confections and something she brought home to Tipperary from her time working at Ballymaloe. Our twist on the meringue has been to make them stylish and fun, inventing new flavours while using local, gently pasteurized egg whites. Over time we’ve come to see our products as a customer’s best friend – always showing up at the right time and in the right outfit!
How has your product evolved since it has launched?
Since 2010 our products have evolved in so many ways. Our meringues began as our original flavour and were sold in a four-pack. Now, in addition to our Beautifully Original meringues, we also make Truly Strawberry and Zingy Lemon. We are currently developing new, exciting flavours to add to the roster, so keep an eye out for them this Spring! With our biscuit cake, our changes have been all about packaging, visibility and design. We all know and love the traditional loaf-pan slice of biscuit cake. We had to find a way to portion and package ours that was both eye-catching and relatively easy to produce. We found the right balance and worked with a great local printer to design our iconic sleeve cases. The rest is history!
Who is your customer?
Our customers vary from the college student who keeps a log of biscuit cake in the fridge for his tea, the busy mom who likes to make her children chocolate biscuit birthday cakes, the savvy hostess (or host) who keeps a pack of meringues in the cupboard in case a surprise guest arrives at the door (voila! Five minute pavlova!), and meringue aficionados in general. Most of all, our customer base is comprised of discerning foodies who like to know where their ingredients come from and how their treats are made. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to such a wide variety of people and are very happy to continue to do so!
What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
Have a clear vision. Be passionate about your product. Don’t settle for less than perfection and, at all times, maintain your vision and your product’s integrity. Going the cheap or easy route can be tempting, but it will only harm your brand in the long run.
What’s next for you?
Through SuperValu’s Food Academy initiative we’re getting tremendous support and, as a result, a lot of business. We’re so excited for the next 12-18 months as this year will be absolutely huge for us. We love working with the SuperValu team as well as Bord Bia and our Local Enterprise Office – these days there are so many tools available to small businesses for funding, updating skills and professional growth through these establishments. We couldn’t recommend them more highly and hope to see more small, local business on the upward swing this year along with ourselves.