Could you tell us a bit about the history of Ger’s Hot Honey?
Ger's Hot Honey was a passion project that came to life during the last lockdown as a result boredom paired with curiosity. I first had a taste of hot honey in Roberta's, New York and it blew the socks off me and I felt that the people of Ireland deserved to have their socks blown off too. I hadn't put too much thought into the project setting out - I put a logo together, got the website up and running, filled a few jars intended for friends and family and things thankfully snowballed. Since then its been somewhat of a whirlwind romance, numerous late nights, plenty of little wins, a few curveballs but a serious buzz (sorry) overall.
As far as the product goes it’s simple, pure and natural. 2 ingredients - honey, infused for 24 hours, with birds eye chillies. To anyone who hasn't tried it the flavour is one that's quite difficult to explain. You get the rich, sweetness and texture of the honey combined with a delayed kick of fiery heat. It goes famously well on pizza and cheeses but it's also the business drizzled on toast, lashed in a stir-fry, glazed on roasted veg and great for adding some sweet heat to a margarita or hot whiskey.
Do you use Irish ingredients?
When I set out I had every intention of using Irish ingredients wherever possible. However after many a phone call with Irish beekeepers the reality of using Irish honey became less and less realistic. Due to the continuously deteriorating strength of bees the honey production in Ireland was at its lowest in years. Not only was 2020 a bit of a write off for us but it was a particularly bad year for the bees. So regrettably I wasn't able to get my hands on enough Irish honey for the project to be feasible.
I have however worked with a few local beekeepers to infuse small batches of their own honey for them which has been quite a fun and rewarding project.
What is the biggest challenge that you face as a food producer in Ireland?
Well everything I’m doing is fundamentally new to me so that in itself has been a challenge. As I look to grow and expand the challenges become greater at every step but I think that's just part and parcel of setting up and scaling your own business. I’m constantly trying to streamline my processes across the board from stock control to production to deliveries etc. I’m definitely making progress but mostly winging it and learning on the go. Baby steps.
What new trends do you see that are emerging in your industry?
To be honest I’m not sure if I’m the best person to ask, being so new to the game.
But there are a few things I’ve picked up on. One being that consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of what they’re buying and where it’s coming from. I’m not sure if this trend is coming from people being more tuned into their bodies as a result of the pandemic or if I'm just making it up but people seem to place more importance in enjoying quality food made with good quality ingredients.
Additionally I feel the Irish people, especially given the peculiarity of the past year, have been particularly keen to support their own. Whether its new restaurants, food trucks, cafes or products the Irish are becoming much better at supporting local - something you love to see, there’s something really wholesome in that.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your industry?
None that I have come across yet but again, I’m only getting going.
What has running your own business taught you?
That mums double as great PAs.
Who are some other Irish foodie brands you draw inspiration from?
As far as condiments go I have mad respect for Harry’s Nut Butter. We became obsessed with the stuff in our house a few months back and then Harry released the new range with the extra spicy and the coco it secured itself as an absolute staple in our press. The likes of Harry’s Nut Butter, White Mausu and Chan Chan are paving the way for little buzzers like me to follow suit and without that inspiration I honestly don’t think I would have given this venture a whirl.
Outside of the world of sauces it's been encouraging seeing independent food joints popping up and continuing to set the bar high. Ones that come to mind are Paddy’s Pizza Pies in North Dublin and Archies Pizza on the Southside. I may be somewhat biased but I happen to know that Hot Honey pairs particularly well on both.
What’s next for the company?
Just keep buzzing away - I think I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the potential the honey has and it’s still early doors. I’m working on extending my wholesale portfolio within the Irish market so if any cafe or shop owners are reading this ping me an email and we can have a chat. I’m also determined to strive for sustainability in all aspects from production, to packaging, to waste management.
Other than that who knows? Did someone say merch?
To shop & learn more about Ger's Hot Honey visit www.gershothoney.ie