“Determination, tenacity and rolling up your sleeves are the keys to making your dream a success. Learning everything there is to know about the industry and being flexible enough to diversify your brand is essential.”
From humble beginnings in 2006 in Dun Laoghaire, Gourmet Food Parlour has seen tremendous growth over the past 11 years. The opening of new restaurants in Swords, Dun Laoghaire and Santry in the past 2 years, as well as significant investment in catering and events, has seen the business grow from strength to strength.
With such success over the past few years, I couldn’t help but wonder if Lorraine Heskin, one of Gourmet Food Parlour’s two founders, had ever imagined this level of success:
“We could never have dreamed of the success of our ‘little idea for a quirky style cafe’ growing to where it is today. We really wanted to create a new style of dining in Dublin with a strong emphasis on relaxed, funky surroundings and really tasty food. Starting with just 12 employees in Dun Laoghaire in 2006 to over 200 employees today is one of our proudest achievements.”
Speaking about her latest venture in Santry, which opened in May 2017, Lorraine said: “We were looking at this site for many months before the opportunity arose and we knew the location would be a great fit for our brand.”
Compared to the first Gourmet Food Parlour opening, where “we had to rely on the help of our family and friends”, Lorraine could utilise all of her business and building contacts, as well as the experience gained over the past 11 years.
As we kick off a new year, there are always goals we set for ourselves and Lorraine is no different, saying: “I never rest on my laurels and I am always looking at new opportunities for the business.”
For 2018, Lorraine has no plans to slow down and hopes to open a “new state of the art catering and events kitchen”, seek new locations for expansion in Dublin’s City Centre in the near future, further develop the GFP food offering, grow the business by 200% and more.
Covering all your dining needs from breakfast to dinner and everything in between, Gourmet Food Parlour mixes the quirky with the traditional for a complete dining experience in a cosy atmosphere: “We aim to combine passion for warm hospitality with delicious wholesome food and we offer a good choice of menus for our customers. Our main menu options include breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, and there is plenty to choose from on our menus.”
With a varied menu, it can be difficult to single out those special dishes on the menu. But Lorraine does have a few favourites: “I have a lot of favourites that we have kept on the menus for the past 11 years. Our roast chicken sandwich was the first sandwich to be served in GFP and to this day is our most popular. I also love our chicken quesadillas served with sweet potato fries and homemade dips, which I reserve for a treat on Fridays!”
“My go-to breakfast option would be the Protein Start as I am a firm believer in protein for a boost in the mornings, so the baked ham and feta cheese combo gives me all I need to start the day.”
With many people trying to focus on leading healthier lives, especially in January as we try to cope with those pesky resolutions, Lorraine and GFP ensure they cater to this demand:
“We are delighted to partner with Food Flicker, which are a company dedicated to providing tasty and nutritious recipes combined with the latest nutrition and performance science. Every month we introduce a new menu option from our Food Flicker ambassadors, which always proves so popular with our customers.”
We have also highlighted some dishes on current menus that have been approved by Food Flicker nutritionists to give you plenty of healthy options.
So if you want to have a healthy meal out, there are wonderful options for those looking to pack essential nutrients into their meal:
“Our superfood salad is one of the healthiest options on our menu. With the combination of roast chicken, quinoa, beetroot and butternut squash, it provides all your essential nutrients in one dish. Our burger in a bowl and vegan wraps are also excellent options for a healthy lunch.”
As we get started with 2018, Lorraine says the key to healthier living is to have a balanced approach to work and play and admits to a bit of indulgence at the weekend: “My own philosophy is always to have a balanced approach to life with plenty of time for work and play.
“We need to be able to put 100% into our working day, but also have the opportunity to spend quality time with our family, with some me-time added into the mix (though this can be hard to achieve with three kids under seven!). I always eat very well during the week and drink over 2 litres of water every day. I’m more relaxed about my eating habits at the weekend and I always like a nice robust red wine to relax with on a Saturday night!”
On the topic of healthy eating, Gourmet Food Parlour’s catering business attracts many high-profile customers and is the official partner of Dublin GAA County Board, something Lorraine is very proud of: “We are very proud partners of the Dublin GAA County Board and have worked with them for over 5 years now.
We provide all of the refuel requirements for all teams, from development squads right up to the senior football and hurling teams. We are delighted with the success of the Dublin Senior Team over the past three years and it has been our pleasure to play a small part in their training regime.
Also working with the Dublin Ladies GAA, Gymnastics Irelad, Swim Ireland and more, Gourmet Food Parlour adopts a hands on approach to their catering sector and are proud to be “the leading sports caterers in Ireland”:
“We work very closely with the team’s nutritionists to ensure they’re getting the optimum refuel for their performances and we also cater for the individual training needs and refuel requirements of team members. We love working on new ideas and offering new options to the teams to see their reactions and feedback.”
Looking to the future and Lorraine already has some ideas in store for the next few years: “I love what I do so staying motivated and inspired comes naturally to me! I’m always looking at new and exciting opportunities to grow the business and I’m not afraid of hard work.”
My passion and enthusiasm that I had over 11 years ago is still as strong as ever and I look forward to the coming years with gusto!
She added: “We have lots of plans to grow the business and take on new projects along the way, which I hope will only add to the success of our Gourmet Food Parlour story.”
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.