Last year we were so excited to return to in person events and of course the highlight of the awards is always the announcement of Supreme Champion. In 2022 this honour went to Arán Bakery in Kilkenny, it is always exciting to make that announcement but for those present in Dingle on the day we got to see the announcement made twice! Once by Artie as part of the ceremony and a second time as the winner Bart rang his wife live on stage and told her the news!
Nicole and Bart’s bakery story started on honeymoon in Ireland as they looked for somewhere to start their business and now run the bakery & café in the heart of Kilkenny with a team of people passionate about food whose previous lives include skydive instructor, welder, sound engineer, DJ, law and politics, designer and interior designer! That is a team that we want to know more about behind the scenes.
At Blas the awards are based on blind tasting, our judges review solely on the food they are tasting, they don’t know who has made it or where it is coming from. This blind element is a key part of our judging to allow a level playing field for all. However, once the judging is done we love nothing more than learning all about the producers and we will be sharing this in our Meet the Maker Series, starting with our 2022 Supreme Champion Arán Bakery
When & why did you start your business?
Nicole and I started Arán in 2019. We always wanted to open our own restaurant or a cafe. After living in Denmark for 6 years, we decided that it was time. So on our honeymoon, we visited Ireland. We drove all around Dublin and Kilkenny. Nicole liked it and because I was raised here we decided to open a cafe with a small bakery in Kilkenny.
Who is your food inspiration?
Bart: I was raised over here so its Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Anthony Bourdain, even Jamie Oliver. When I was growing up, I learned how to cook from TV. And of course, mom is a huge food inspiration. Mom is very important.
What do you love about your job?
What’s not to love, you know. We love our job because we have the drive and passion for it… the smell of the fresh bread in the morning…. Working with local food suppliers and being in a position to support that community.
What is your typical day?
Checking where am I needed most determines what my day looks like.
We have 4 different types of day….
I can be in the Bakery
I can be in the Restaurant
I can be doing Brunch
I can be in the Office.
Depending on the type of day I have, if it’s the bakery I wake up very early or work late at night or even work through the whole night. If it’s an office and delivery day then I drive around, pay bills and take care of administration. If it’s a restaurant day, then we prep for the restaurant and evening service.
Some days maybe I am a plumber! Yesterday my dad and I were fixing everything.
What was your best day since you started your business?
Definitely winning Blas na hÉireann Supreme Champion. That was definitely one of the best days ever, in my life, not just in business. It was massive.
Where do your ingredients come from?
We source locally as much as we can. They come from all over Ireland. We try to be as responsible as we can be while running a business and all that that entails, and also aiming to have as many local suppliers as we can.
Tell us about the people you work with?
The people we work with are great! They are taken from every aspect of life. We work with Sharon who used to be a skydive instructor. We work with Matty-now he’s a baker who use to be a welder. Andy, a baker now, who used to be a sound engineer. Callum has a law and politics degree from Australia. We had Chloe, who used to be a designer. Miheal is a DJ and makes music. We have many people on our team who are with us for their passion for food – Dauma, Micheal, me, Nicole. Although I used to be an interior designer. Tracey has been in food since forever. Sigita and Natalia have always been in the restaurant business. Sarah is a business student. So it’s a fun bunch of people to work with. It really is.
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself/your business?
It’s not 3 words, but – ‘One team, one dream.’
What do you think is the key to success?
I don’t think we are successful yet. I think we are going to be successful. We are popular, we are on the right track, but I believe success takes time. The fact that we won the Supreme Champion of the Blas na hÉireann Awards is helping us to achieve that goal. Success in bread and the bakery is passion and hard work. It’s the drive, determination, hard work, persistence that are the key to success, and I think we are on the way to success.
Has there been one single moment which has changed how you look at your business?
Yes – the winning of Supreme Champion of the Blas na hÉireann Awards. It was amazing.