Could you tell us a bit about the history of Hot Chip Dublin?
While living and travelling abroad I discovered really amazing giant cookies that had a crisp exterior, a gooey, molten centre and delicious chunks of luxurious Belgian Chocolate scattered throughout. This style of cookie was really popular in New York, Sydney, London and Toronto and I became a big fan of them myself and looked forward to treating myself to a delicious chocolate chip cookie after a busy working week.
When I came home to Dublin I was inspired to launch a similar style of cookie in Ireland and I began experimenting with different recipes in my kitchen. After taste testing many batches on family and friends and gathering feedback I was finally happy with the taste, texture and look of the cookies and Hot Chip Dublin was born in September 2020.
The first flavour we launched was our signature Mixed Chocolate Chip which is a mix of dark and milk Belgian chocolate and this remains our bestseller. Since then we have expanded our flavours to include Belgian White Chocolate Chip, Smores, Nutty Chocolate, Caramel chip and we rotate in specials from time to time too. We also launched a premium cookie dough product in the same flavours as our cookies which gives Hot Chip Dublin customers the opportunity to make their own freshly baked cookies at home without the hassle of buying ingredients or cleaning up after baking.
With so many people at home more over the last year, the cookie dough has been flying off the shelves but equally, people enjoy going to their neighbourhood café or local grocery store for a freshly baked Hot Chip Dublin cookie and a coffee. We are now selling our cookies and cookie dough in many stores and cafes across Dublin and we are expanding into new counties across Ireland. We are proud to have created a quality Irish food product that consumers enjoy and that puts a smile on people’s faces.
Why is using Irish ingredients important to your company?
Hot Chip Dublin is very proud to be an Irish company with all our food products handmade in Dublin. We really believe in supporting other Irish businesses and try to use Irish ingredients as much as possible. When I was experimenting with different recipes for our cookies, I noticed that the taste and texture of the cookies was far superior when I used Irish butter and Irish flour.
Hence, we continue to use the finest quality Irish butter and flour in all our products. These fantastic Irish ingredients contribute to giving our cookies that crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside consistency and a much richer colour and flavour.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
The last year has been extremely challenging for all food producers in Ireland who have had to adapt to survive in the midst of Covid-19 restrictions. As Hot Chip Dublin was launched in the middle of a lockdown we could not connect with potential customers in the usual way by doing in-store tastings etc. so we had to rely on other ways to get the word out about our cookies and cookie dough.
We were extremely fortunate that we got amazing support from local, independent cafes and food stores who gave us a chance after sampling our newly created products. We have also experienced amazing goodwill from customers during Covid-19 who have really made a huge effort to buy local and support small businesses selling high quality Irish products. Word of mouth and engagement with customers on social media platforms, such as Instagram, also really helped us to gain momentum and establish our brand during the challenging lockdowns.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
Vegan food products have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years and this trend looks set to continue as more consumers adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Food producers are innovating to meet this strong consumer demand for plant-based products.
We are hoping to bring the Hot Chip Dublin experience to a wider audience with the launch of our delicious Vegan cookie dough and cookies in the coming weeks. This will give Hot Chip Dublin customers a plant-based alternative that doesn’t compromise on taste, texture or quality.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
A significant barrier to entry for Irish food start-ups is the lack of affordable food production space that small businesses need in order to move from their home kitchen to producing on a commercial scale. We would like to see the development of a lot more food incubation hubs and fully equipped shared kitchens which would enable food entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses without incurring prohibitive costs.
What has running your own business taught you?
Entrepreneurship comes with a host of challenges and is a massive lifestyle change. It requires a lot of hard work, long hours, resilience, determination and learning from mistakes. The buck always stops with you so there is a huge amount of responsibility and pressure. Having said that, it is extremely rewarding when you see your brand on the shelf, when you receive great feedback from your partner retailers and cafes, when you see customers enjoying the product immensely and when your team is happy and motivated. That makes it all worthwhile.
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
Ireland has a wealth of exceptional food producers so it’s hard to narrow it down but a few standout homegrown foodie brands that have been a big inspiration to Hot Chip Dublin include, Strong Roots, Gra Chocolates, Golden Bake, Sisu, Cali Cali, Couverture Desserts and The Juice Boxx.
What’s next for the company?
We would like to grow our Hot Chip Dublin team and partner with more retailers and cafes to bring Hot Chip Dublin cookies and cookie dough to new markets throughout Ireland and beyond. We would also like to expand our dough-livery service to new areas. We have just launched our Hot Chip Dublin Merch (high-quality hoodies and beanies to start with!) and premium gift bags on our website www.hotchipdublin.com and we would hope to expand our range of branded products. In the near future, we will be launching our gorgeous gift boxes containing 6 of our signature, freshly baked cookies which are the perfect gift for a friend or to order for yourself and share with guests.
We want to keep innovating, coming up with new flavours and product ideas and finding fun ways to connect with our customers through social media promotions, competitions and in-store tastings when Covid-19 restrictions permit. We have some exciting partnerships with other foodie brands in the pipeline and we can’t wait to reveal those. There are lots of exciting things going on at Hot Chip Dublin HQ and we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our brand.
Find out more about Hot Chip Dublin on their website here: hotchipdublin.com