Couple makes leap from high finance to healthy ice cream
A husband and wife team have switched from high finance in Manhattan to making healthy ice cream in Co Wicklow.
Rachel and Brian Nolan's company Nobo launched its 'Frozen Goodness' dairy-free and gluten-free ice cream two years ago and now supply to 150 stores nationwide, including Supervalu, with plans to launch internationally.
Avocado, coconut milk and honey are the key ingredients in their ice cream, with flavours such as chocolate and toasted almonds.
Their fresh lemon ice cream even won a coveted three gold stars at the Great Taste Awards and was named one of the top 50 foods in Britain and Ireland out of 10,000 entries - an accolade which helped the company get its produce onto foreign supermarket shelves in Britain and the United Arab Emirates from early next year.
Brian (33) and 30-year-old Rachel had been working in finance and marketing in New York but wanted to indulge their real passion for food and nutrition.
They moved to Italy to work in a restaurant for five months, but decided that making their own healthy products at home in Ireland was their real dream.
The couple's success with Nobo has been helped by taking part in the Food Works programme. Run by Bord Bia, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland, the scheme matches wannabe food entrepreneurs with food industry experts who help them scale up a good idea for the global food market.
Rachel said a key challenge for their ice cream was finding a recipe that could make the huge leap from farmers' markets to supermarket shelves.
As they pride their products on being free of stabilisers and other additives - which often contain gluten - the difficulty was finding a recipe that would retain its texture and taste. Avocado proved the surprise winner.
Under Food Works they were appointed a mentor in Chamco Group founder Brendan Chambers, whose years of experience in food manufacturing helped them find the consistent recipes you need for big sales.
"It's very difficult to move from making something at home to the bigger scale you need in the food industry. If we hadn't done Food Works, we might have spent years at a low level without ever making that breakthrough," said Rachel.
Food Works is now looking for more budding food entrepreneurs with a clever idea who want to take part in the 2015 programme, which involves months of workshops, mentoring and investor introductions.
The latest programme was launched at the new Wicklow Wolf Brewery in Bray yesterday. Brewery founder Quincey Fennelly said Foodworks had also helped his company scale up to commercial beer production.