By SAM BUTLER
Lo&Slo, the Derry-based producer of spicy artisan sauces, has won its first business with German discounter Lidl Ireland.
The small company is supplying Lidl with two unique products, a spicy BBQ sauce and its American-style vinegar mop sauce.
The sauces have been created by Emily McCorkell, who has a passion for healthy food, under her Lo&Slo brand. She is bringing the tastes of the US to food lovers in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Britain and further afield.
“Lidl is our biggest retail customer to date,” she says. “Lidl Ireland has included my two sauces under its Kickstarter scheme for smaller artisan businesses.
“It gives us an opportunity to reach a bigger retail marketplace beyond our existing network of customers in delis and farm shops around the North West,” she adds.
Emily’s love of grilled food in particular underpins the authentic sauces and rubs she has developed in Derry and is now actively marketing here. The American smoked BBQ sauces and dry rubs are ideal for enhancing meat flavours.
Born in Philadelphia, Emily graduated from the University of Missouri, worked in California and then volunteered to mentor teenagers in Derry on what she intended to be a short stint.
She arrived in the city in 2005 to work with the youngsters, subsequently met Norman, a local businessman, married and made the city her home.
Emily, now a mother of two young children, admits that starting up a business was “a big jump mentally”.
“While I’ve always been keen on healthy food in particular, setting up a small company was quite a departure from my background in charity work and youth mentoring,” she explains.
“I’d always loved cooking and entertaining though and was keen to explore the potential of a food processing enterprise, particularly when the children were settled at school in the city,” she continues.
“I am a creative person naturally, so thinking up flavours, meals, and ideas for two, three, or four years down the road is exhilarating for me.”
Her love of cooking and recipe creation, she adds, came from her parents in Pennsylvania.
Emily’s focus is on “an old fashioned way to cooking, simple, creative, nutrient-dense food” from ingredients carefully sourced from local farms and other suppliers in the region.
She has launched two sauces, Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Vinegar Mop under her eye-catching brand and is also developing four new products, creating new recipes, and making the sauces and rubs.
The sauces, both natural and vegan friendly, are based on premium ingredients and recipes she’s developed from her experience in the US and her conviction that grilled food is generally healthier.
Grilled meats tend to be healthier because fat is able to drip away, leaving less fat on the food itself. Her sauces also benefit from being cooked slowly.
The distinctive Lo&Slo branding reflects her commitment to the low temperature and slow cooking technique which ensures a healthier product with greater flavour.
Her interest in a food enterprise was also fuelled by the growth in festivals and food fairs such as the LegenDerry food event and the Walled City Market. She launched the new business at last year’s Slow Food Festival in Derry.