Archive for August, 2006
Following on from my interview with Julian from Bubble Brothers, I decided to move from drink to food. Kieran Murphy from Murphy’s Ice Cream was kind enough to do an email interview for this blog. Thanks Kieran. Next I’ll try and get a chocolatier and a cigar emporium owner. Please do not read this interview on an empty stomach as you’ll be dying for ice cream by the end.
So why the ice cream business? Is this some kind of childhood dream come true?
I have always liked sweet things, and when I moved to Ireland, I missed good ice cream. At the time there was very little in terms of gourmet ice cream. It also is a happy business â€“ no one NEEDs an ice cream. Itâ€™s a treat. People come in because they are happy or because they want to be cheered up. Either way, there are many more smiles than most other businesses. In a way it is a dream come true â€“ after working in the corporate world, itâ€™s a joy to be out of it, living in a beautiful place, and spending days doing work thatâ€™s much more meaningful.
You have two shops and a trade business, which is the main area of business, do you forsee a much greater expansion into supplying restaurants and shops? Will you move into other areas of taste bud temptation since you’ve posted some great recipes for hot chocolate?
The retail and trade business is a balance, and the Killarney and Dingle shops are supporting the wholesale at the moment. The split is about 80% retail and 20% wholesale. The biggest challenge for the latter is distribution. Ireland has a small population spread across a big area, and there are few distributors that cater to ice cream, which has to be colder than normal refrigeration.
As for new products â€“ weâ€™d like to go into ice cream cakes, filled ice cream chocolate truffles and possibly the sauces. We will work on those this autumn and winter.
What sets your ice cream apart from the rest?
We use almost entirely fresh ingredients, which is a rarity when it comes to ice cream. In addition, our recipe is high fat and high over-run (a lot of air whipped in), which means that itâ€™s very creamy without being too heavy.
I remember watching a documentary before where some ice cream taster had a spoon made of gold. What’s the taste test for Murphy’s? Is it a taste test or is there some science involved too?
We donâ€™t have a gold spoon, but taste is the most important test. We taste every single batch that comes out of the machine. Although we do regular scientific testing for food safety, there is no scientific test for good taste!
You mention you have 16 flavours in the shops. How many flavours do you regularly have though? Are there special ice creams for events like Valentine’s, Patrick’s Day and Christmas? Have you ever had requests to make odd flavoured ice cream? Such as? Any of them that you’ve considered producing?
We have literally made hundreds of flavours over the years. Out of the sixteen flavours, four change regularly. We donâ€™t tend to do too much for special days since we think every day is special. We get suggestions of flavours regularly and we often make them. Some of the odder flavours:
1. Carrot, orange, and celery.
2. Mango chilli pepper
3. Goats cheese and caramalised fig
4. Bloody Mary sorbet
What about the non-sweet tooth or the diabetic, anything they can have besides a coffee?
Someone without a sweet-tooth would be a little lost in our shops! But you canâ€™t be everything to everybodyâ€¦ A long time ago, we decided we would never sell anything savoury.
Weâ€™ve struggled to find a natural option for diabetics. We will not use chemical sweeteners. We have talked to the diabetic association and doctors, and the current thinking is against foods labelled â€œdiabetic.â€? The feedback we get from the health professionals is that diabetics should monitor their sugar intake â€“ they can eat a normal ice cream but will have to compensate for itâ€¦
I’ve seen it around the web a few times that you have the most expensive ice cream, can you explain? You even have a quote on your site about it.
We are expensive. Itâ€™s a fact of life for a small artesian producer that you will have to charge more, and we do. Our market is people who appreciate quality.
How does a company that makes something like ice cream or other foods get someone to distribute your goods? Is it a hard sell even when your products are fantastic? Is the market very competitive? How important are trade shows?
I talked about distribution above, and itâ€™s very difficult. The multiples are difficult to get into and hard to work with. For us, the retail business gives us a base that makes us less dependent on that side of things. We will just let our distribution grow organically. As for trade shows, we havenâ€™t ever done one. They are very expensive, and weâ€™re not sure itâ€™s worth the money. Weâ€™d rather find out smaller independent shops and work with them.
Why did you decide to blog? Have there been benefits so far with this? Any plans to further expand? Videos on YouTube etc?
I decided to blog because I thought it would be interesting to create a more interactive forum for customers as well as satisfy the huge amount of requests we get for recipes and tips of various sorts. A website is much more static. I like the fluidity of a blog and following where it takes youâ€¦ It would be interesting to try podcasts or YouTube, but perhaps thatâ€™s a project for the winter.
As for benefits, itâ€™s gotten us some press and customer contact. Iâ€™m not sure if the benefits balance the time required to blog, but itâ€™s still early days, and I enjoy it!
What’s the best ice cream you’ve had, apart from your own? Ice cream excluded, the best desert you’ve had? Are you a big foodie in general?
Berthillon in Paris is probably my favourite, especially for fruit flavours. I also love the tartufo at Tre Scalini in Rome. The best dessert I ever had was a pumpkin crÃ¨me brulee in Boston at a restaurant called Salamander. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s still there. Usually I would go for the chocolate option, but this was divine. And yes, I would consider myself a foodie. Food was a great invention!
Lastly, pimp your goods. List some of the best things on your menu and give us some prices.
Some most popular things on our menu are:
1 scoop of Murphys Ice Cream: €2.90
Titanic Banana Split: €7.50
Chocolate Sundae: €7.00
Caramel Sundae: €7.00
Murphys Milk Shake: €6.00
Selection of Murphys Ice Cream: €7.00
Wiebkeâ€™s Cakes: €5.00
Bernie seems to have spotted that I use my delicious space to store links for many of my upcoming blog posts or for the column I do for ENN. So yeah, if you want to know what I will next blog about before I do, have a gander over there. It’s a time machine! I think I’ll leave them public still. Also apologies to Simon for not spotting the links he sent to me on the service. I didn’t know this could be done and I only just spotted them now, 3 months later.
Bernie was kind enough to blog on my behalf about the fact that the Irish Tourist Board are paying for American Tourists to come to Ireland and podcast their experiences. It’s a pity the Tourist Board haven’t considered using the great podcasters we already have around these parts. Still, why not see can we meet these Americans and make them feel as welcome as possible while also giving some podcasting advice if they want some. Maybe the recent Podteched Scobles can give some advice too?
That’s the second cheeky thing Bernie has done this week, I can’t disclose the first one, but it had me laughing away.
You may have noticed that my blogging was light the past week and a bit and the reason was that I was studying for exams. Exams are all over with now. Please don’t ask how I got on. Anyways, I’m sure I’ll be back to more regular mischief making very soon.
With Leaving Cert results about to happen I have a feeling we won’t see you lads for a while. So best of luck! Best of luck to everyone else in the blog world who are also waiting on their Leaving Cert results.
ComReg have another release about LLU here. We had a draft press release ready to go to counter the expected spin from them which probably would have said how great they are with the LLU talks. But alas ComReg don’t seem to want to press release this news. It’s great that they’ve finally highlighted how hard it is to move to LLU though. Still, why bin good content. Here’s the release:
IrelandOffline welcome any and all actions by ComReg to repair many of the serious problems with local loop unbundling in Ireland. However important issues like high wholesale costs, seamless movement from one service to another and the lack of automated ordering systems means consumers will still not be able to avail of the benefits of LLU. Benefits include cheaper prices and innovative packages such as TV, movies on demand, higher speed broadband and phone all over one line.
IrelandOffline chairman Damien Mulley commented: “The ComReg announcement today is much like a plumber on the Titanic telling the Captain he’s fixed a leaking pipe. Meanwhile the ship is going down. This new system will certainly make it more convenient for businesses and consumers to move to phone and broadband providers while keeping their number, something possible in other countries for most of this decade. However, a huge amount more needs to be done before consumers can really benefit.”
What today’s announcement means:
The current issue that ComReg have improved on means that consumers and businesses can now order broadband from a provider and keep their number without major disruption and downtime as had been occurring previously if they wanted to keep their number.
Even with the new system in place, in order to move to an LLU product (such as Smart’s or Magnet’s), you have to first cancel your broadband service with eircom and then your new provider has to request LLU from eircom. If your phone and broadband service is not with eircom it is worse again. You have to cancel all services, move back to eircom and only then can an order by your new provider be placed. Adding outages, billing issues and potential downtime to ordering broadband.
The new system that ComReg created for Ireland is a manual system meaning at most a few hundred orders can be processed per week. In the UK with an automated system 30,000 LLU customers a week are being moved over to free broadband providers like Carphone Warehouse and Sky. Industry in Ireland have been requesting an automated ordering system for years but to no avail.
Ireland currently is placed 14th in the EU15 for broadband penetration, a partial reflection on the lack of a working LLU system.
Great satire and great special fx means it’s heard to tell the spoof from the real thing. This is Time Trumpet from the BBC. It’s a great watch.
Here’s the preview clip:
Stephen Lavelle is into mobile terrorism. Or wants to revive Trigger Happy TV.
(Oh and just in case it is interpreted otherwise, Mr. L’s blog isn’t shit.)
If The Office (US Version) were like Battlestar Galactica.