Taste the Nation: The Cork woman who left the corporate life to follow her food dreams

Blackrock-born Aisling Murphy founded The Tiny Turnip
Taste the Nation: The Cork woman who left the corporate life to follow her food dreams

The Tiny Turnip’s owner is Cork-based Caterer, Aisling Murphy. Picture: Kirsty Lyons

Blackrock-born chef Aisling Murphy has wanted a career in food ever since she was a small child.

Her mother, Ann Murphy, was one of the first stallholders at Midleton Farmer’s Market, selling her homemade sauces and chutneys.

“I spent every Saturday down at the market working with my mum, so I grew up appreciating local food and the work that goes into producing the food that we eat.”

After completing a degree in commerce at University College Cork, and experimenting with a stint in an office, Aisling knew that the corporate life was not for her.

Having saved up, she decided to pursue her dreams of working with food and enrolled in the 12-week course at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The experience, she says, was life-changing.

“It’s definitely not a holiday. It’s hard work, and you take in a lot over those 12 weeks, but I would recommend it to anyone who has the passion and the drive.”

The learning curve

Armed with business knowledge and now a wealth of food know-how, she set about gaining work experience at Cork food businesses she admired. A stint at Roots Kitchen was followed by a period working at the Garden Café food truck at Ballymaloe, working with food that had been plucked straight from the farm. Seeing how important provenance was to both businesses stoked a fire that was already burning within the entrepreneur.

In the autumn of 2019, the student became the teacher when Darina Allen invited her to teach on the upcoming 12-week course.

That October, having given birth to her son Finn, she decided to take the plunge and set up her own catering company.

“I knew I wanted to start my own business, but then the pandemic hit, and I had a new baby, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.”

Inspiration hit in the middle of lockdown, and the seed for The Tiny Turnip was sown.

“Whenever I had friends or family around I always served them a grazing board of some local food. My future mother-in-law said to me one day ‘you know, you should sell these.’ I saw that people were getting sick of the same old takeaways and that this might be something different.”

Board appeal

Aisling's boxes are packed with local and homemade ingredients. Picture: Kirsty Lyons
Aisling's boxes are packed with local and homemade ingredients. Picture: Kirsty Lyons

She began selling grazing boxes to order, packed with local cheeses, cured meats, and homemade crackers, chutney, dips, and cucumber pickle. The pick-up was instant. “I found myself driving around Cork delivering these boxes to people like a madwoman. The best bit of all was that most of the boxes I was delivering were gifts and the people receiving them had no idea that I was the one who had made them. To see the glee on their faces was something else.”

The Christmas Grazing Gift box is available to order now. Picture Kirsty Lyons
The Christmas Grazing Gift box is available to order now. Picture Kirsty Lyons

This Christmas, Aisling is expanding nationwide with the launch of a limited number of specially curated Christmas Grazing Gift Boxes. They will feature her own homemade cranberry and pear chutney, cucumber and dill pickle, and feta and basil dip.

They will also be stuffed with Gubeen salami, oak-smoked organic Irish salmon from Shanagarry Smokehouse, Aisling’s personal selection of Irish farmhouse cheeses, honey from Gee’s Gourmet Preserves, and mulled wine mix from Baltimore’s Foxglove cocktails.

The boxes, which cost €60 each plus delivery, can be delivered all over the country and are a “real taste of Munster”, says Aisling.

“Every element that goes in those boxes has been carefully considered to make sure that they complement each other and we’ve also included recommendations based on our own favourite food pairings.”

Available to pre-order now, The Tiny Turnip has a limited amount of Christmas Grazing Boxes available to deliver over December which can be ordered on thetinyturnip.com.

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