Meet the Producers
For our next ‘Meet the Producers’ feature, we’ve headed to Southern Ireland. More specifically, Clonakilty in West Cork, to meet The Clonakilty Food Company to find out why Clonakilty Blackpudding is regarded as “Ireland’s Favourite”.
The Clonakilty Food Company
The Clonakilty Food Company is owned and managed by Colette Twomey. The family business started back in the mid 70’s with the acquisition of a Butcher’s shop on Pearse Street in Clonakilty and has since grown into an International Company, with products sold through the UK, Mainland Europe, U.A.E. and Australia. The company are of course known, first and foremost, for their black pudding, a recipe they inherited through the butcher shop that dates back to the 1880’s. There is a full history of the company on their website, but we wanted to ask Colette some more specific questions, starting with one about possibly the best kept secret in Ireland!
We understand that only YOU know the recipe to the spice mix used in your Black Pudding. Why did you originally take the decision to keep it such a secret [and are you really the only one who knows]?
Yes, it’s true, I am the only one that knows the secret spice mix. The recipe dates back to the 1880’s and was closely guarded down through the generations in order to protect the very unique blend of spices that gives our pudding its distinctive flavour. We believe it’s that distinctive flavour that sets us apart from other puddings, so naturally, we want to keep it a secret.
So, it will remain your secret for the foreseeable future with the recipe handed on when the time is right!?
Of course, when the time is right, but for now it sticks with me!
Do you still take responsibility for preparing batches of the spice mix in readiness for production and how often are you required to do this?
I sure do. I usually mix it on a weekly basis. I tuck myself away in the spice room which is in a quiet area of our facility away from the day to day buzz. I can also prepare ahead for a few weeks and store in sealed containers if I need to.
Clonakilty Blackpudding is made using beef product rather than pork. Is your main reason for using beef to be true to the original recipe and traditions or is it because you believe it produces a better quality Black Pudding?
The majority of Irish black pudding is actually made from pork, but because our recipe originated in the butcher shop the availability of beef and beef blood at the time was more plentiful. We continue to keep true to that original recipe – tradition is what we are about.
In the modern commercial environment, dried [reconstituted] blood is often used to produce black pudding. What is used in the production of Clonakilty Blackpudding and why is this your choice?
Currently we use dehydrated blood, not by choice but because of strict food production regulations. Our wish would be that we return to using fresh beef blood in the near future.
Are all your ingredients sourced locally and is that an important factor in making your products the best they can be?
Yes, they are and it’s extremely important to us. Buying Irish is a central part of our business values.
What other business principles or values do you attribute to the success of Clonakilty Food Company?
Quality, Irishness, Passion and Family, as simple as that.
So, is there any more you could tell us about what differentiates Clonakilty Blackpudding from your competitors black pudding, i.e. Why are you ‘Ireland’s Favourite’?
Where to start?! Our taste is so distinctive thanks to our quality and natural ingredients, and our texture unique too thanks to our Irish pinhead oats. Just ask any of our customers, they’ll tell you why.
You also sell a very popular white pudding. For those less familiar with the product, could you tell us a little more about it, and perhaps, why it is such a good substitute product for those not so keen on black pudding?
Our white pudding is made with pork which is a key difference and also does not contain blood. If you’ve not tried it you should, it’s a fantastic complement to our black pudding, bacon and sausages on a breakfast plate.
What are the other products in the current product range?
Also in the Clonakilty range are our very popular breakfast sausages and a variety of bacon products.
If people want to try some Clonakilty Blackpudding (or Whitepudding), what is the easiest way to buy some?
The best way for people to find out where to buy our products is to visit our website.
Who do you supply your products to? And do you have any ‘famous’ clients, especially chefs?
We supply to retailers, local butcher shops, and food services. We are lucky to be on menus of restaurants up and down the country and to be independently championed by some of Ireland’s top chefs, including Neven Maguire and Rachel Allen.
You are shortly moving to a purpose built factory complex complete with a Visitor Centre sharing the history of Clonakilty Blackpudding. What is the latest news on the development and what can visitors expect to see?
We are and we’re so excited. All is going to plan and we should be opening by next Summer. The visitors centre will give our visitors a chance to see our black pudding being made first hand and immerse themselves in the history of our brand.
Update Oct17: The new factory complex officially opened in early October 2017… “It’s great to be home!”
Finally, do you have a tip or favourite recipe / meal for preparing or cooking your Black (or White) Pudding?
There are so many great ways to eat it but you can’t beat a leisurely Saturday brunch with Clonakilty blackpudding, whitepudding, sausages and bacon and a nice cup of tea.
Thank you to Colette!
Updated Oct17: The prize draw accompanying this article was won by James with runners-up prizes to Jackie and Linda.