Magaly and Nigel Murray, owners of Gran Grans Foods, met in Venice in 1995 and from there began a journey of culture and food spanning the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Peru and Galway! In our latest blog Magaly tells us how Gran Grans Foods came to be and how their culture has influenced their products.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
I was born in Peru, South America to a very entrepreneurial family. In 1995, I met Nigel in Venice, Italy. We travelled together throughout Europe and decided to get married in Peru, where we opened the first Irish Pub in Peru; Murphys, in 1997. We have been in business together since then. Nigel, a chef by trade oversees production and I look after admin and marketing. We opened different restaurants and pubs in our time in Peru along with having 3 children and after 10 years we decided to come to Ireland.
We founded Gran Grans in 2014 and after 6 years in business we have built a wide range of products of which we are very proud. These include preserves, marmalade, dressings, chutneys, exotic dips and cooking sauces. At the back of our home we have a polytunnel, herb garden and orchard where we grow our own herbs, fruit and veggies as much as possible but we also source ingredients from local growers. Our range is also gluten free. Nigel’s experience in different cuisines around the world has contributed to give a new breath to old favourites, flavours and at the same time he has created innovative recipes that reflects our culinary journey so far!
Where did the idea come from?
We owned a small deli counter in our town, Loughrea, where we used to make our own jams and marmalades. Nigel would make them every morning and I would hand write the labels. We got a great reaction among the locals and that gave us the push to get into the retail business. In 2014, we founded Gran Grans Foods. Gran Gran was the affectionate name Nigel used to call his grandmother. She was the person that inspired him the most to become a chef.
Did you train professionally, did it direct you into a particular area?
Nigel was born in Coventry to Irish parents. He studied to be a chef in Ireland and at a very young age travelled around the world working as a chef in very prestigious restaurants in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Italy. Back in Ireland he worked as executive chef in the Ardilaun Hotel and Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway. While having our own business in Ireland we noticed a gap in the market for Irish made condiments. Most of the products were of English provenance specially the ones used by vegetables shops and craft butchers. As a trained chef you have the knowledge and experience to come up with any recipe so we decided to concentrate on handcrafted quality Irish pantry products.
How is your work influenced by your surroundings?
When you are a food producer your inspiration comes mainly from your surroundings. Living in an area where you can get access to fresh produce is fundamental for the development of seasonal products. We grow most of our herbs and vegetables, that way we have a reliable source of freshness and quality.
During the lockdown we decided to go ahead with the rebranding of our labels. The main inspiration; Galway. We wanted to give our products that feeling of originality and vibrancy that Galway is known for. We decided to go for bold colours and illustrations of the fresh vegetables and fruits we use in the production of our products.
Has the current pandemic impacted your work and business?
COVID 19 has been a huge learning process for us. After many years owning different businesses we have learned that in order to survive we have to adapt and try to make the most of every situation.
Areas of our business that were hugely affected were markets and festivals. We take part in many festivals throughout the year which do not only represent cash flow revenue lost but also a marketing and PR tool that otherwise we couldn’t afford. To compensate this loss we joined numerous online market initiatives and relaunched our website so our customers can access our products easily.
What are you currently working on/plans for the future?
You can definitively say that Gran Grans Foods plans are divided in BC (Before Covid) and AC (After Covid). I suppose our immediate plan is to stay afloat and current until we know more of how the new normal is going to be. So far, we have learnt a great deal in Ecommerce, and we are exploring that market to its full potential. I think cooperation with other local producers and virtual markets are more important than ever. #Weareinthistogether is quite relevant for any business in the present economic climate. By gathering us together on the same platforms or through hampers or basket initiatives I believe we can offer attractive options to old customers and at the same time create awareness among new customers of local producers in their area.
We are finalising rebranding of our labels and we are hoping to launch them in the upcoming weeks, so watch this space for our exciting new look! Adding to that we are working on our Christmas range; packed with exciting flavours and beautiful gift sets!
Our future project: the building of a visitor centre where we can offer a shop with local artisan products, tour of our facilities and cooking demos. We are holding on to that dream, just doing it at a slow pace.
Gran Grans Foods’ mini jams are included in our Keep Galway Smiling gift-box, check out our range here https://boxofsmiles.ie/product/keep-galway-smiling/