Great Northern Larder is the brainchild of Laura McMenamy and Ruairi Browne. By now you know our business is all about fresh local Irish ingredients, gently cooked into beautiful sauces. But who are we?
Laura is a pharmacist with some sort of fancy qualifications from Queen’s University in Belfast. She also has some less fancy but probably more interesting qualifications in nutrition and healthy eating. Pharmacists have always thought themselves as food producers, and rightly so as Coke, Pepsi, Birds Custard, and baking powder were all invented in the dispensary. Even some famous sauces came about from chemists tinkering with spices – Lea and Perrins were both pharmacists for example. Laura is an avid and very talented baker. She is also a very experienced retailer. That combination of talents along with her scientific education make her not just a “foodie” but a person who is very qualified to create great food products.
Ruairi has a long career behind him as a software developer. Software developers drink a lot of Coke, Pepsi, and Lucozade and Ruairi loves Worcester Sauce, so he feels perfectly entitled to jump on this bandwagon. Ruairi is also writing this and finds it peculiar to talk about himself in the third person singular, so I’ll stop now. I have a genuinely love for flavours. I am one of those odd people who doesn’t think everything tastes like chicken. I am also one of those people who doesn’t say “it’s missing something”, but instead says “7 grams of nutmeg would round out that sauce and cut through the sharpness of the cider vinegar”. I’m not always right, but I am always genuinely passionate about flavour.
Both Laura and Ruairi have completed food hygiene courses as required by the HSE (Irish Health Service Executive) and we use HACCP practices and full traceability procedures across all aspects of the business. All our sauces are prepared by us, by hand, in a fully HSE approved commercial kitchen.
Everyone loves a good story and the one question we get asked a lot in Great Northern Larder is “what’s your story?”. We think that most of the stories that you read on company websites are entirely made up. Now we’re not adverse to writing a bit of fiction so...
Let me tell you about great-great-uncle Alphonsus Browne who wagered his toupee against the recipe for an amazing tamarind and plum sauce he first tasted in a back-street market in Bombay in 1878. The vendor of that sauce was one Mr Rajesh. The game was Blackjack. The first card was drawn and both men had a ten. Mr Rajesh drew down a King of Clubs, leaving him just one short of Blackjack. Uncle Alphonsus was dealt the Queen of Hearts, his lucky card. Mr Rajesh then pulled a deuce. It was a bust. He threw the recipe at uncle and shouted the immortal words “This is no longer Rajesh’s Sauce, but Browne’s Sauce”. And so, a legend was born.
Laura says that a good story should have at least a pinch of truth. She doesn’t even believe that I have a great-great uncle Alphonsus. Laura does genuinely have good food heritage in her family. Her granddad and grandma had a vegetable stall in the famous St. George's Market in Belfast in the 1950’s. They also owned a green-grocers in the city. We even have a photo to prove that much.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any pictorial evidence of their world famous home-made tomato ketchup, the recipe for which has been passed down through generations of Laura’s family and which we can now share with your family through Great Northern Larder. That’s because we made that last bit up as well. They probably didn’t even sell tomatoes – apparently, tomatoes were a bit “posh” in post war Belfast.
But what if Laura and I are the story? What if Great Northern Larder is just about what we say it is about: beautiful local ingredients that we treat with respect and care so that they become great sauces and preserves? What if you should stop buying stories and start buying great food? Try it!