A gourmet food company jointly owned by a Clonmel woman won two coveted awards last month.
Tastefully Yours, which is based in Dunhill in Co. Waterford, received the Best in Ireland 2011 Award from the prestigious Bridgestone Guides and was also announced as the Megabytes 2010 Newcomer of the Year.
The company was formed just over a year ago by Audrea Hassett and Norbert Thul and they opened a store at the Dunhill Ecopark last May, as artisan producers of gourmet relishes, chutneys and pickles.
Audrea is daughter of Rose and Michael Ahearne, Sheehy Terrace, Clonmel. A past pupil of the Sisters of Charity School and Loreto Convent, she had always dreamed of being a chef and has been passionate about food since she can remember. But she married young and found herself at home, a busy wife and mother.
Audrea didn't give up on her dream and eventually decided to do something about it by enrolling on a Higher Certificate Programme in Culinary Arts at Waterford Institute of Technology two years ago, and graduated earlier this month.
When she met professional chef Norbert Thul, who is originally from Germany, and who shared the same enthusiasm for home-grown and natural ingredients, it was obvious this was the perfect match to create culinary delights.
These two very different people were united in their love of food – "I have had an hour-long telephone conversation with Norbert purely about mangoes. We share the same addiction – food, which I suppose gives our respective partners a break from having to hear about it all the time," she says.
They started with a very simple idea of Audrea's – cookie dough in a jar for busy mothers.They wanted to design good quality, delicious but different chutneys, relishes and pickles, which they create themselves in their kitchen at Dunhill. They care deeply about the provenance of the fruits and vegetables used when creating their products and source all the raw materials locally, when possible, using whatever is in season.
This creative duo have captured the taste buds of anyone who has tried their new and unusual products.
It was at the Tramore Farmers Market that they were "discovered" by Jackie O'Gorman of HMS Host – the largest catering company in the world. At the time they had no idea of who Jackie was or why she was asking them so many questions but it turned out she had been looking someone just like them for a long time. She was totally caught up by their enthusiasm and when she tasted their produce, she too was hooked. The outcome of this fruitful meeting is a completely new sandwich menu being written for catering outlets in Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, using Tastefully Yours produce.
In their plaudits for Tastefully Yours, the authors of the Bridgestone Guides, Sally and John McKenna had this to say: "We would walk a country mile for a great piccalilli, and the best piccalilli we have tasted in years is made by Norbert Thul and Audrea Hassett's company, Tastefully Yours. Everything they fashion is beautifully made, the flavours crisp, sharp and alive, and beautifully packaged. Norbert and Audrea are two people that helped to make 2010 a great year for Irish food".
Receiving such a powerful endorsement from this prominent Food Guide meant that Audrea has been invited as a guest speaker at a forthcoming AIB Business seminar.