Kinsale Gourmet reaps a secret kick from seaweed
AS A young child, Cork man Owen O'Brien listened to his father and grandfather recount tales of how Carrageen Moss was gathered from the shore.
The moss, which is a type of seaweed, was often eaten as a dessert or used as a cold remedy in O'Brien's family. "My father and grandfather grew up alongside the sea in Kerry and they would have eaten seaweed as part of their diet," says O'Brien.
"In recent years, people forgot about seaweed – it skipped a generation. Seaweed, however, is full of antioxidants, and has more nutrients than any land vegetable."
O'Brien's belief in the nutritional value of seaweed inspired him to set up a company which sells frozen meals using sea vegetables such as the red Dilisk seaweed.
Some of the dishes sold by Kinsale Gourmet include seafood lasagne, seafood cannelloni and seafood pie. These meals are sold in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Supervalu and Eurospar.
"We're also exporting to Britain and Northern Ireland and are in discussions with a big supplier and distributor in France," says O'Brien.
Although his company, Kinsale Gourmet, has only been making meals since August 2012, O'Brien says his business is already producing between 5,000 and 10,000 meals a week.
"We can't produce the food fast enough," he says.
"People are more health-conscious now. Five years ago, if you mentioned seafood lasagne, people would have thought you were talking about the moon."