“The most important question at dinner was always, “what’s for pudding?”,” says Rory Flaherty, when quizzed on the inspiration behind the name of his family business; set up by himself and his mother, Catriona, in 2014.
Catriona’s mother, Molly O’Dea, hailed from Belfast, and in the O’Dea household dessert was always known as pudding. When Catriona and Rory spotted a gap in the market, for a ready to serve, warm, traditional dessert pudding, the perpetual question came to mind straight away – and so, was born.
Many of us who dared to ask the question as kids would have been met with the retort “finish your vegetables first”, or if we were lucky a packet of biscuits, but at the Flaherty household old family recipes were often relied on to whip an array of old-fashioned sponge puddings.
Today, the very same recipes are relied upon at the What’s for Pudding? bakery in County Meath to create their three signature, and now award-winning, dessert puddings; comforting Sticky Toffee Pudding, rich Chocolate Pudding and a zingy Lemon and Blueberry Pudding.
Each pudding comes ready to heat, and is topped with a luscious layer of sauce that melts when heated, creating a pudding that is magically and moreishly molten. Best of all, the ingredients list reads like a stock list of your own larder; no unpronounceable additives here.
What’s for Pudding? also produce a range of homemade dessert sauces sold in jars, in Chocolate, Toffee and Rum Butterscotch flavours, the latter is a favourite of Rorys, who says it is perfect “to pour on fruit salad, meringue, ice cream, toast, porridge, or just dip a spoon in, you name it.”
“All our products are handmade just like we make for family and friends. We use the exact same ingredients, traditional method and attention to detail so our customers get the real authentic taste and texture of a handmade pudding which they regularly comment on. No two puddings look quite the same, but they all taste the very same, delicious,” explains Rory – very tempting to try to pass one of their handmade desserts off as your own creation then.
“Just like any handmade product the production numbers are limited, so you know when you buy a pudding, you are getting the very best from a limited number,” he adds. While each pudding is made with love, fear not you can still get your hands on them in all Supervalu’s in County Meath, Nolans in Clontarf, Mortons in Ranelagh, Nolans Butchers in Kildare, Castlebar’s Rua Deli, and Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford.
The temptation to pick up one of the puds is all more intense now that What’s for Pudding? are also exclusively producing an All Butter Sticky Toffee Pudding for Dunnes Stores’ Simply Better range; a partnership that has become a match made in dessert heaven.
Their puddings had already won gold stars at the Great Taste Awards, the world’s most coveted blind-tasted food awards, but together with Simply Better they reached the highest level of acclaim possible; achieving 3 gold stars, making the Top 50 Foods 2016 list from a selection of 10,000 product entries, and ultimately earning the Golden Fork for the best food or drink product in Ireland, at the grand finale this September.
Commenting on the superb execution of the show stopping dessert, the judges, from The Guild of Fine Food, admired the texture and flavour of the dates, and described the classic pudding as “unctuous and moreish, squidgy and moist”; noting that it was only a “dollop of cream or custard away from a heavenly experience.”
A partner in their success, Simply Better Brand Manager, Diarmuid Murphy, says he first met with Rory and Catriona at Sheridan’s Food fair in 2014 and “loved the quality of their own products and the passion they had for making really good puddings and sauces,” and was instantly keen to bring What’s for Pudding? into the Simply Better family of Irish artisan producers.
Catriona worked with Product Development Manager, Susan O’Shaughnessy, to “tweak the recipe and add a secret twist that makes it such a truly delicious and unique dessert,” Diarmuid explains. Along with a top-secret recipe, Diarmuid says “it’s their passion and love for what they do and the care that goes into making each and every pudding that makes it stand out from the rest.” “They use really good quality ingredients and treat production just as you would at home, making every batch by hand with care and attention to detail.”
Taking home the take home the Golden Fork for Ireland was not only a “very proud moment for the Simply Better team,” but Diarmuid reveals it has also increased sales of the pudding ten-fold, with customers coming into stores nationwide specifically in search of the prize pudding. Together with Diarmuid and Catriona, he looks forward to developing additional Simply Better puddings and dessert sauces.
Likewise, Rory has nothing but praise for their partners in success: “We have a great relationship and mutual understanding with the Dunnes Stores team, in that they understand and appreciate what it takes to produce great food and the work involved.” “It has given us further confidence in our own products and affirmed our commitment to quality. The large number of shops and geographical spread has given us the opportunity to make our award-winning dessert pudding available to everyone in Ireland.”
A building surveyor by profession, Rory says he still is not quite sure exactly how he finds himself holding the title of pudding king of the Royal County. “It all just happened very quickly and, like my mother, I saw a great opportunity. Our family are all interested in good food and its source, and coming from a farming, country background it was a natural fit.”
Just like how food is at the heart of the Flaherty family, the family is at the core of the business. While Rory and Catriona are at the helm, father Brian helps at events, and looks after the accounts and general management. And, although not officially a Flaherty just yet, Brian’s fiancée, Amy, helps at food show events and runs the local deliveries.
Even on the other side of the world, in Sydney, Rory’s brother too has found himself wrapped up in the food industry with his own food business Two Good, which makes and sells celebrity chef designed lunches and for every lunch sold, one is donated to Domestic Violence Shelters around Australia.
The product may be traditional, but Rory says they are always innovating. “We have a new pudding in the pipeline which we hope to have out before Christmas and have other products that will follow next year, all going to plan. We are currently finalising changes to our brand and packaging to truly reflect the quality of the product and hope to have this ready in time for Christmas.”
The possible answers to the question “what’s for pudding?” have never looked so delicious.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.Erica Bracken Erica Bracken