Meet the makers: Delicious desserts made in Meath & Dublin

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What’s For Pudding run by Catriona Flaherty and her family in Co Meath and pastry chef Robert Bullock’s Le Patissier in Co Dublin, bring their quality treats to homes across Ireland as part of the Simply Better range in Dunnes Stores.

This article is brought to you by Dunnes Stores Simply Better and appears in the November 2019 issue of Irish Country Magazine.

Family ties

Located in the Boyne Valley at Kilmessan, Co Meath, What’s For Pudding is a family-run business making a collection of homemade-style desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding and decadent chocolate pudding. “We always celebrated as a family around the kitchen table,” says Catriona Flaherty, who founded the business in 2014. That love of cooking to celebrate motivated her to go into the food business and when she spotted a gap in the market for warm desserts, What’s For Pudding was born. The name is inspired by her mother Molly, who was from Belfast and always called dessert pudding.

The family ties run deep as working alongside her in the business is her husband Brian and son Rory. Not to mention the family members that get pulled in to help from time to time – including Catriona’s daughter and grandchildren who are more than happy to taste test new recipes.

Key ingredients

The secret to their great taste lies in sourcing the best quality ingredients, many of which are produced locally: “We get our eggs from O’Egg in Co Cavan, they supply us with Liquid Eggs which save so much time. Our butter is always Irish, and we use Irish cream. Our flour comes from Odlums in Portalington.” The other element that sets them apart, says Rory, is how they’re made.

“We’ve developed all our own recipes; everything is handmade which is really important. Because of that there’s a very notable taste and texture, they’re not highly processed and they’re made in small batches – you can really taste the difference.”

Catriona, Brian and Rory Flaherty of What’s For Pudding?
Simply Better

In 2014 What’s For Pudding won gold at Blas na hÉireann and were approached by the Simply Better team from Dunnes Stores to make desserts for their Simply Better collection.“The puddings are still being made the exact same way as when we first started out in small batches. We’ve always said we’re not prepared to compromise, if we can’t make it well we’re not interested in doing it at all,” says Catriona.

The Simply Better range of puddings comprises of All Butter Sticky Toffee, Triple Chocolate and Lemon Curd, and very soon they’re launching an apple pudding and two dessert sauces – toffee and chocolate. “The Simply Better Sticky Toffee Pudding won a Golden Fork in the Great Taste Awards in 2016, that’s a very big accolade,” Catriona explains.

“The Simply Better team have done so much for us since day one and it’s been a really enjoyable process. “We love that people all over the country can buy our sticky toffee pudding. The idea that someone is proud to put our product on their kitchen table for their family, we love it.”

New Beginnings

Pastry chef Robert Bullock worked in London restaurants before moving to the airline catering sector. For years he ran the catering division for Aer Lingus, but a few years ago he found himself at a crossroads. “I had no job but I had my craft,” Robert explains as he recalls a chance evening that prompted him to start his own business, Le Patissier.

Robert Bullock of Le Patissier

“My parents were over for the weekend and we went for dinner, and like all proud parents they told the chef at the time, Ger, ‘my son’s a chef, he could make you a dessert’. In fairness he said I could try, so the next day I took a few samples over and he liked them. The business was born from there.” Robert started to make pastries and desserts for a small number of restaurants and cafés from his home kitchen in Skerries, Co Dublin, and the business started to grow. Soon he was supplying hotels and bigger venues, so he moved into a shared kitchen unit in Dunboyne, Co Meath.

Superior taste

From the very start he says the key was using high quality ingredients:

“Everything is Irish and local. My cream, milk and butter are all Irish. My cream cheese comes from Tipperary, and my eggs are from Co Cavan. I always say, use off the land the best you can.”

Today Le Patissier has 15 staff, made up mostly of trained pastry chefs. The team supplies hotels, restaurants, cafés, corporate hospitality, and they’re also available nationwide through their award-winning collection with Simply Better. Like What’s For Pudding, Robert submitted some of his products, including his lemon meringue tart, into Blas na hÉireann in 2014 and he was thrilled to win silver and gold. Shortly after that, the Simply Better team from Dunnes Stores asked for a meeting and five years later his range has grown to include a number of decadent desserts, such as mousses and tarts.

One thing that certainly sets Le Patissier’s products apart, is how beautiful they are to the eye, as well as their great flavour. “The best desserts are always made in-house, and we try replicate that in volume,” Robert says. “What we have on our shelves is very similar to what you have on yours at home – butter, flour, sugar, eggs. “My team is so passionate, they have the know-how. Attention to detail, natural ingredients, and skill is what makes it special – it’s a common goal we all share.”

Room to grow

Since striking up a relationship with the Simply Better team, Le Patissier has moved to a bigger unit in Dublin. “We started with a small range and it was a game-changer.” In the coming weeks, new products will be popping up in stores, including a French apple tart and single origin Mexican chocolate tart with Irish Sea salt.

In the lead up to Christmas, more special products will drop, like the triple chocolate profiteroles. “We like to keep them really simple, they’re just sugar, egg yolk and then we fold in the cream and chocolate. Simply Better like things to be clean, the cleaner the better, so there’s no preservatives, no palm oils, it’s all very natural.”

This article is brought to you by Dunnes Stores and appears in the November 2019 issue of Irish Country Magazine.