I started Big Red Kitchen as a hobby in 2010, after attending a local craft fair and seeing some homemade jams for sale. This reminded me of my childhood visiting my cousins in Navan, collecting blackberries and helping my aunt to make jam. She told me how her grandmother used to make jam and enter her daughters in the local agricultural shows with their jams and brown bread, so the tradition of jam-making has been in our family for quite some time.
I began by attending a few local craft fairs and stocking my local café (Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Naul). My ethos was simple – to make really tasty preserves the old-fashioned way, using high quality ingredients. However, I also didn’t want to just do what everyone else was doing, so I experimented with recipes to mix some innovation with tradition, and the result – so far – is the product range I have today.
By the time I was made redundant from my day job in the summer of 2011 my hobby had built up to the point where I was attending markets and agricultural shows most weekends, and the popularity of my jams and chutneys was growing. I had even acquired a handful of local stockists. I decided to try and make a proper business out of it, and started making jam for a living. Once I was fulltime in the Big Red Kitchen (which is still my home kitchen today), I was able to really promote the business, increase production and get on the road; which led to the word spreading and many more stockists nationally.
Since that time some prestigious, high-quality, shops and cafés around the country have began stocking my range. The reception to the products and to the Big Red Kitchen story has been very positive and the support of the public has been phenomenal. I get to meet a lot of Irish people (and visitors to Ireland) at the Food Festivals, County Shows and local Craft Fairs, and nothing can beat the look on someone’s face when they try my best-selling Raspberry and Vanilla Jam. For me, it makes all of the hard work worthwhile.