I had the good fortune to stock The Great Northern Larder products in a pop up I did in Dundalk in 2018 and then met the dynamic duo (Ruairi and Laura) behind this amazing operation....talk about power couple....there's nothing these guys can't or don't do and they always do it well. They're also my kinda people as they love food AND they're just really freakin nice ! That's why I chose to partner with them to get Unglu-d sauces and seasonings made and excited to say with restrictions being lifted in the coming weeks, production can start so watch this space YAY !
I see these guys quite a bit and we chat about all sorts but they've been super duper busy so was delighted they had the time to share a bit more about GNL and what they're up to...….
How did Great Northern Larder get started and why?
My partner Laura and I were discussing the impact Myrtle and Darina Allen had on making the food of Cork famous. We both think that the food of the Boyne Valley, North Leinster, and Ulster has as much to offer, but we felt there was nobody championing it at the time. Great Northern Larder was intended to be like the Ballymaloe of the Boyne Valley. We wanted to promote local food, run events, and create eating experiences. We took a lot of advice and we were put off the idea initially. So instead we decided to develop a food brand that made a product. We did that, and now 3 years into the journey and for a variety of reasons we suddenly find ourselves returning full circle to the idea of being a more widely focussed food brand. However, we now realise that there are great brand ambassadors for the region working hard, and in the 3 years we have been up and running the region has seen a lot of exposure. We now feel the time is right for us to use the experience we have gained in GNL to immerse ourselves in the local food scene and refocus the business on not just products, but experiences and services.
How long have you been operating?
Since 2016, but we didn’t really launch a product until late 2017.
Where are you guys located?
Dundalk, the heart of the M1 corridor and the gateway between Dublin and the North.
What kind of products do you sell and what’s your best seller?
We sell condiments that we make ourselves such as chilli sauce, brown sauce, bbq sauce, and lots of spice rubs and seasonings. We use local produce and ingredients such as Dan Kelly’s apple cider vinegar from Drogheda, and Oriel Sea Salt. We also sell over 200 local products from other artisan producers.
Where can people find your products?
We sell online at The Great Northern Larder
What do you think makes Great Northern Larder unique?
Our sole focus is producing and procuring great products. Our sole reason for existing is to get people to experience those products. We don’t operate to a budget, we don’t chase supermarket contracts, and we don’t compromise. We have never undertaken market research – if you don’t want good local food then move aside and let the next person through. If the market is not big enough then we will either grow it or we will do something else.
You are doing a lot of work with and on behalf of Boyne Valley Flavours, can you tell us more about that and what the offering is?
Boyne Valley Flavours is a producer group that aims to promote local products and producers and venues where people can eat. We are currently working closely with BVF to bring local produce direct to the doors of consumers via online ordering. At the time of writing the Covid-19 pandemic is in full force and we are all in lockdown. This service is a lifeline to producers and consumers.
You set up the Cattleboat Festival in Dundalk, what is that all about and do you anticipate having one again in the future?
Yes, the Cattleboat is our flagship “mini food festival” in Dundalk. It is a place for local producers and local consumers to come together and experience the best the area has to offer in terms of food and drink. There is no doubt it will sail again.
What changes have you had to make if any due to the Covid-19 restrictions?
We are not travelling as much, and we are relying on couriers and Zoom meetings. Our retail sales are down sharply, but our online sales channel is remarkably busy.
What are your plans?
We have big ideas for the company. Soon we are launching a BBQ range that will include rubs, spices, salt blends, wood chips for smoking, and BBQ accessories. That will involve the launch of a new stout-based BBQ sauce which is getting great feedback from our taste testers. We also have hugely ambitious plans for an extremely exciting new food venue in Dundalk. We are in the early stages of planning, but we hope to launch a 19 hour a day, 7 day a week venue for eating, drinking, food shopping, and entertaining. Like the rest of our business it will be driven not by price, or the market, or by Covid-19, but by an absolute uncompromising passion for quality Irish food. It will be the best place in Ireland to taste the island. We were nervous about setting this up when we started planning it in late 2019, but now that the world has changed, recession is inevitable, and restaurants are in dire straits, we feel like there has never been a better time for doing something entirely bonkers.
From your posts and events, you seem to be deeply passionate about food and cooking. Lots of us are cooking from home now, any top tips you are willing to share?
Yes, use lots of butter.
WOW....I'm very excited about the food venue in Dundalk and look forward to working more with GNL over the coming months. You guys should know Ruairi is responsible for re building the Unglu-d website....like I said they're ain't much these guys can't do :). Be sure to head over to The Great Northern Larder to pick up some of their sauces and check out the amazing selection of Boyne Valley Grocery Boxes on offer.