We’ve taken one great food staple — the spud — from Central and South America and made it our own. And now we’re set to do likewise with the tortilla: an equity investment programme launches tonight to fund the very first real corn tortilla manufacturing plant in Europe.
Blanco Nino is the brainchild of restaurateur Philip Martin, owner of Dublin-based Little Ass burrito bar. He aims to capitalise on huge European demand for authentic Mexican cuisine, with enormous interest already expressed by major players in the Irish and British food service industry.
Martin has established links with farmers in Dublin and Wexford that will eventually see more than 600 acres dedicated to growing and supplying Blanco Nino with high-quality non-GMO corn maize and the Fingal Enterprise Board-backed production facility will create up to 30 jobs.
Introduced in 2010 by the Mexican embassy to the concept of nixamalisation — an ancient traditional method of processing corn for cooking tortillas that dramatically improves taste and nutritional values — Martin travelled extensively for research.
“I saw the very industrial side of the process in California,” says Martin, “and the more traditional, humble process that has been taking place in Mexico for thousands of years — it is about striking a balance between the two, pharmaceutical plant hygiene to meet Irish food standards while using traditional processes to arrive at the finished tortilla.
“Regular corn is protected by a hull or ‘pericarp’, so it passes right through the system, yielding little or no nutritional benefit but the process of nixtamalisation removes the hull, balances the nutritional content and makes it fully digestible,” explains Martin.
“Basically, you boil it in a burnt limestone solution for two hours, leave it to soak for eight or 10 hours. We then grind it with old volcanic stone grinders and turn it into a type of paste to shape and bake. It also makes the cornmeal much more pliable and elastic giving it a great texture. There is no comparison and we are already into double digit figures with enquiries from food service companies in Ireland and Britain.,” he added.
To fund the purchase of specific equipment from the US, Martin is launching an equity crowd-funding campaign, allowing investors to take a stake in the company.
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