SNAPCHAT star James Kavanagh’s infectious enthusiasm goes into overdrive when he starts to talk about food.
He is obsessed with it, he says, drawing out the vowels to make the point.
He and partner William Murray, fellow food obsessive, have just launched a new food brand called Currabinny and they are, as they put it, “toe-dipping into the food market game” to gauge the response.
So far, it’s been positive and overwhelming, thanks in part to Kavanagh’s huge following on social media.
He has 15,000 followers on Snapchat (jameskava), 10,000 on Instagram and as many on Facebook.
“Food is just made for social media. It gives anyone the opportunity to do something and to bring it to a larger audience,” he tells Feelgood.
Social media has already helped launch a new generation of foodie stars — the multi-platform Donal Skehan, foodie celebs Rosanna Davison and Roz Purcell, and food writer and blogger Aoife McElwain who runs the wonderful forkful.tv with Mark Duggan.
“Food in Ireland is having a renaissance … and people are looking for recipes,” says the king of Snapchat.
And what better way to find a fast-track to an eager (and hungry) audience than on the photo messaging app that allows you to share photos and videos for 24 hours.
It’s the ideal platform, he says, because it’s raw and unedited: “It keeps us fresh and experimental.”
Currabinny itself is still in the experimental stage, but it has already caused something of a buzz.
Kavanagh and Murray were at the Teeling Spirit of Dublin food and craft fair at the end of last month and they will be popping up at more food markets, running supper clubs and vlogging over the coming months.
Eventually, they plan to open their own café.
Social media is helping them assess what people want — and then work out the best way of giving it to them.
And people, says Kavanagh, have reached saturation point on so-called ‘clean food’.
He says they are sick of the fruit-juice diets, the cleanses and the battle to make quinoa or tofu tasty.
Currabinny is unashamedly all about real butter, full-fat cream and salt.
“It’s unapologetically delicious. It’s about great food beautifully presented,” says Kavanagh, 26.
“We both come from homes where our grandparents put half a pound of butter on the mash and they were grand. We don’t shy away from carbs. We are into rich food. People are looking for alternatives,” he adds.
Though, he’s anything but flippant about health. Food should be fresh, local and of the highest quality, he says.
They are not into fast food, or poor-quality food and are not advocating anything that is unhealthy.
Both are regular runners and have a personal trainer and say anyone can add a little bit of what they fancy to their diet.
Currabinny, the brand, is named after Currabinny in Cork where Murray, 24, grew up.
William has always been interested in food.
As a child, he fished for fresh mackerel and went on to study at Ballymaloe Cookery School after completing a degree in art and design in Limerick.
His enthusiasm rubbed off on Kavanagh.
Ask him about it and Snapchatter — or should we say snack-chatter — is off again on a rapid-fire soliloquy on the virtues of Irish food, Currabinny’s microclimate, the tidal wave of strawberries he saw there one summer, the hunger for something new.
One of Currabinny’s signature dishes is a ruby chard and mushroom korma.
For the sweet-toothed, there’s vanilla shortbread, lemon and rosemary wholegrain biscuits, and white chocolate walnut and banana loaf.
Takeaways are all beautifully presented, wrapped in brown paper, gold twine from Industry and a fresh flower from the Garden in Powerscourt Centre, Dublin.
Kavanagh’s background in PR is evident and he raves about how digital brand agency www.goodasgold.ie succeeded in translating its concept (‘gastronomical botanical’) into something tangible.
And, for Currabinny, it’s all about being tangible.
They want to engage with people, hear what they think of their recipes and hone a brand that is built on obsession.
Did we mention that they were obsessed by food?
POT noodles have been given a make-over with the launch of a new vegetable-packed range at Marks & Spencer.
Each of the four new Asian-inspired products include a nest of noodles, vegetables and a paste blended from ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and tamarind.
The noodle pots (€2.59 each) were developed as a response to the growing snack market, which is up 12% on last year.
NEW food start-up Strong Roots has a great way with words — the Dublin-based company is, it says, “bringing frozen food back from the dead”.
Its new product, oven-baked sweet potatoes, has struck a chord with those of us who like the idea of having a healthy alternative but don’t have the patience to prepare it.
Strong Roots potato chips take 25 minutes in the oven. They are gluten-free, low in salt and saturated fat and high in vitamin A and C. They are available at SuperValu, Eurospar and independent retailers. A 500g bag costs €3.99. For more stockists, see www.strongroots.ie/
WHEN it comes to nutrition, teenagers are often the forgotten ones, says nutritional therapist and co-founder of Wild Nutrition Henrietta Norton.
“As children reach their teenage years, emphasis on nutrition can decline — just when awareness should be increased,” she says.
With that in mind, Norton has developed a new vitamin range to help teenagers with ingredients designed to support growth, hormone fluctuations, brain function and general development.
A 60-capsule supply of Teengirl and Teenboy, costs €32.
They are available online at www.wildnutrition.com
EVER wondered what it might be like to go vegan in a country that produces enough milk to feed more than 52 million people?
In the third episode of What Are You Eating? (Wednesday, 8.30pm on RTÉ1) Philip Boucher-Hayes examines the connection between dairy fats and heart disease.
He will also look at the differences between processed cheese and farmhouse cheese and asks a confirmed dairy lover to follow a vegan diet for a month.
The six-part series explores the radical change in eating that has taken place here in the last 50 years.
We’ve gone from a country that shopped locally to one where intensive farming and food technology has given us more choice and lower prices.
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