Peter turns a passion for cooking into a food venture
Retirement in 2017 gave Peter Galbraith more time to devote to his love of cooking and food preparation.
And it’s a passion he has recently developed into a small artisan business in Belfast offering novel flavours which are attracting the attention of delis and other specialist food stores across Northern Ireland.
Peter is now our latest kitchen table entrepreneur, an integral part of the impressive revolution in artisan food and drink that’s been a developing feature here for almost decade and one being fired by the growth in specialist food stores such as Indie Fude in Belfast and Comber as well as the interest now being shown in such enterprises by larger retailers led by Northern Ireland’s Henderson’s Food operation and most recently German discounters Lidl and Aldi.
Another factor in the exceptional growth in artisan food and drink is the spread of outdoor markets encouraged by the rebirth of the iconic St George’s in Belfast in 1997 with a bewildering variety of local and ethnic cuisines and products.
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A long-time resident of Ballyhackamore in east Belfast, the affable former civil servant has recently launched a six-strong range of chutneys, relishes and jams in deliciously different flavours such as blood orange and chilli; pineapple and onion; and lime and sweet pepper chilli under the distinctive Brackfield 29 branding. The condiments are gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.
“Working with food is something I’ve always enjoyed,” Peter says. “I love cooking for family and friends to enjoy. I guess cooking and food preparation were also very therapeutic after often challenging and stressful times at work over more than 30 years. I’ve carried my passion for different flavours and tastes from my cooking at home into the products now appearing under my Brackfield 29 Quality Artisan Condiments, the stylish branding I wanted. The pandemic, of course, has afforded more opportunities to develop my cooking and food at home.”
He chose the unusual branding because it’s the name and number of the family home he shares with wife Wendy and daughters Alix and Hollie, both now at university in Britain.
Ballyhackamore is also developing into another of the city’s hubs for great food and drink. “There’s been a tremendous change here in food from around the world particularly over the past five to 10 years,” he continues. “We’ve now some superb restaurants with a tremendous variety of original and freshly prepared food. In addition to Marks and Spencer Food, the area has first class butchers and greengrocer with selections of artisan products.
“There’s also a small deli at the popular Cyprus Avenue restaurant on the corner of the Upper Newtownards and North roads that’s well stocked with foods from local artisans. There’s now virtually something for everyone in food in ‘the Hack’…and more in the pipeline, It’s really been transformed into a very vibrant food community.”
Living in such a dynamic food village has inspired and encouraged Peter in the creation of his novel selection of tasty condiments “with a bit of a kick”.
He began turning the original food ideas into commercial products during the first lockdown. “It was something to focus on when virtually everything else was shut,” he explains. “I started experimenting and developing initial flavour profiles and sampling them among family and friends in what was quite a learning curve. While I’d always made condiments at home for meals and for gifts over the years, considering possible commercial production was something quite different. I had very little knowledge about running a small food business. I knew I had a great deal to learn…and still have.”
Feedback on the initial chutneys, jams and relishes was “positive and immensely encouraging”. The next stage was to carry out some first-hand market research to see and assess products already on the shelves. This important exercise helped him to pinpoint a gap in the market for different flavour and unusual flavour combinations. He also spoke to deli owners and some other traders to enable him to plot a course ahead for his fledgling business.
“Everyone I spoke to was extremely helpful about the products and the overall business,” he continues. “I found that there’s a tremendous camaraderie within the artisan food community. The comments backed up my own belief that quality and taste are the keys to success in such a fast moving marketplace,” he says.
He decided to push ahead with the enterprise based on this commitment to quality and outstandingly different taste and original flavours. “Another key focus for my small business is sourcing local ingredients for freshness and, of course, traceability. The challenge now is to grow sales” he adds
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