BY KATE RYAN
MasterChef presenter Nick Munier joined popular chefs The Happy Pear Brothers (David and Stephen Flynn) in Inchydoney last Thursday, as part of Local Enterprise Week.
The event – which was MC’d by RTE reporter Geraldine Harney – featured well known personalities David and Stephen Flynn of the Happy Pear and restaurateur Munier who addressed over 100 local producers and entrepreneurs.
The Happy Pear duo explained how they had set up their business in 2004 after purchasing a vegetable shop. They have now built their business to become one of the most recognisable and successful food brands in Ireland today.
The day-long event, entitled ‘Seasoned: Building a Successful Food Business’ brought together experience, expertise and networking for food entrepreneurs either fully fledged, just fledged or merely breaking out of their food start-up shell.
The event set the scene for an inspirational day of food stories.
Connecting with your message and embracing your food story was the overarching message to burgeoning food businesses.
To paraphrase Kenneth O’Connor of the Supervalu Food Academy: eggs are eggs, unless you’re Caroline Murphy of West Cork Eggs.
Her ‘food story’ is as much about her brand as the delicious, fresh tasting eggs from her farm in Rosscarbery.
The Happy Pear, who had left Wicklow at 3.30am to be in time for a dip in the ocean outside the venue, energised the room with their showmanship and 7-point plan for business success – engage with your community; be authentic; be motivated for a greater goal; follow your passion; create a great team; find your tribe and relish challenges.
They may seem an overnight success, but their business started with their Wicklow veg shop in 2003. It wasn’t until their cookbook was published in 2014 that they entered the popular consciousness.
A Vegetable Revolution it may have been, but it took 11 years, a veg shop, café, a health food range and a bestselling cookbook to get there. With a second book due out later this year, it looks like they have convinced us the Veg-Rev is here to stay.
Nick Munier recounted his journey from an 18-year-old commis chef for the Roux Brothers to front-of-house guru and now an experienced restaurateur with his latest venture, ‘Avenue’, leading the reinvigoration of Temple Bar in Dublin.
From the UK and of French descent, he said of arriving in Ireland “only when I came here did I have the belief to do something for myself”.
From his first venture ‘Pichet’ to ‘Avenue’, Nick’s focus is very much on the customer, their comfort and enjoyment being as important as the food. He emphasised the importance of staying connected with his customers, and said that repeat business at Avenue has made it feel more like a min-club than a restaurant. Not averse to taking risks (a 15-year lease on the Temple Bar premises is testament to that) his parting words of wisdom were: ‘Keep growing; take risks, regret nothing.’
Advice that is as relevant in life as it is in business. And all very inspirational.