Shera McAloran and Andrea Bohar gained major awards at the recent Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards (NIFDA) in Belfast.
Shera runs Karri Kitchen Asian food manufacturer in Portadown, while Andrea owns Green Fingers Family in Larne.
Karri Kitchen gained the Healthier Product Innovation Award and was Highly Commended in the Small Company Award for Shera’s mango chicken curry. Andrea won the Environmental Sustainability Award.
Both are part of a new generation of artisan enterprises led by women now making things happen in our single most important manufacturing industry.
There are other women entrepreneurs steadily shaping the industry. Entrepreneurs to watch:
Shera McAloran, Karri Kitchen, Portadown:
Shera, who owns Karri Kitchen with husband Chris, specialises in Asian fusion meals based on her own experience growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and from working in hospitality in Sydney, Australia. Her uniquely flavoured meals have attracted business with local grocers and also from Aldi for more than 150 Irish supermarkets. She moved to Portadown following marriage to Chris, a local businessman.
Andrea Bohar, Green Fingers Family, Larne:
Originally from Hungary and a resident of County Antrim for 14 years, Andrea created a small food business, Green Fingers Family, in 2020 out of her decision to take charge of her own health and wellbeing as also for her family. Andrea runs the healthy granola business with husband Zsolt, a caterer and also from Hungary. Andrea’s concern about sustainability and the environment led her to insist that all the packaging is fully compostable.
Catherine McKeever, Long Meadow Cider, Portadown:
Catherine runs multi-award winning Long Meadow Cider in Portadown with husband Pat and son Peter. The business is located on the family apple orchards and has developed a successful range of natural ciders, apple juices and apple cider vinegar. The business has developed popular visits and tasting opportunities and has supported Armagh food festivals by hosting sound and light shows and circus spectaculars. The ciders and juices are available throughout Ireland and are popular in Britain and Ireland.
Emily McCorkell, Lo and Slo Sauces in Derry:
Emily, originally from Philadelphia, specialises in American-style BBQ sauces and a range of other grilled foods. She’s among the most active and successful artisan producers in Derry and recently opened a catering outlet in Lisnagelvin. She has worked closely with the Foodovation at the North West Regional College on innovative foods.
Carolyn Stewart, Totally Hot Sauces, Holywood:
Top broadcaster Carolyn Stewart is successfully bringing the rich and distinctive flavours of her beloved Caribbean to Northern Ireland in the shape of spicy sauces and pickles, which have won UK Great Taste Awards, as well as jerk seasoning and the recently launched Jamaican patties. Her products are on sale in local delis. She started the business in 2016.
Geri Martin, Chocolate Manor, Castlerock:
Geri Martin is among our most innovative and creative chocolate makers. Geri developed her small business initially from creating bespoke chocolates for corporate bodies, including the Royal Household and public bodies. Initially based near Coleraine, Geri moved to Castlerock to open a unique chocolate factory and run chocolate making classes. She has a number of awards for the quality and outstanding taste of her chocolates.
Angela Patterson, Gold and Brown’s Luxury Brownies, Ballymena:
Angela gave up a career in retailing to pursue her dream of an artisan business specialising in gourmet brownies using luxury Belgian chocolate. Angela is assisted by husband Adrian, a graphic designer. They set up the small business this year to introduce luxury, home baked treats which are also available online in up-market gift boxes which are proving very popular with corporate bodies.
Dorothy Neary, Newry Nogs Chocolate Makers, Rostrevor:
Dorothy Neary, originally from Seattle, runs Neary Nogs, Northern Ireland’s only bean to bar, stoneground chocolate producers. The small company has won respect worldwide for its original chocolates from natural and locally sourced herbs and other ingredients. Neary Nogs has developed chocolates for prestigious retailers such as Fortnum and Mason in London. It launched Northern Ireland’s first online chocolate subscription service and enjoys healthy sales through its webshop.
Lynne Gardiner, Amazin’ Grazin’ Portstewart:
Chef Lynne has brought innovation to the traditional Irish wheaten loaf and won UK Great Taste for the originality and taste of its flavoured wheatens. Lynne has responded to market trends by creating sugar-free and gluten-free loaves. She is a popular figure at local food markets such as Coleraine and at the Inn’s in Belfast.
Wendy Dempster, LambVan, Ballymoney
An experienced food retail marketer, Wendy has created the unique LambVan mobile food-on-the-go eatery with husband Richard, a farmer rearing sheep and lambs on their Ballymoney farm. They have worked with CAFRE in Cookstown on recipes for lamb snacks such as sausage rolls which are gluten-free.
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