THE WOMAN behind a unique seafood company is enjoying the sweet taste of success after three of her products won awards at the world’s largest blind-tasted food awards.
The owner of Silver Darlings - a Hospital-based seafood company specialising in Nordic style pickling and marinating of Irish herring, is celebrating after landing top honours at the UK Fine Food Guilds Great Taste Awards.
Three of their products are now able to proudly carry the little gold and black Great Taste logo. Silver Darlings received two gold stars for their beetroot and horseradish herring and one gold star each for their King Matjes Herring and Star of the Sea herring.
“It’s fantastic,” commented Kirsti O’Kelly the company’s founder. “Altogether I have seven products. The beetroot and horseradish herring is completely my own invention - there is nothing from the internet. I completely made it up.”
Silver Darlings began trading in Limerick’s Milk Market in May 2014 and since then has gone from strength to strength. It is unprecedented that such a new company would have three products awarded gold stars at the UK Fine Food Guilds Great Taste Awards.
Kirsti lives in Limerick with her husband Eoin from Ennis Road and their two daughters. She pickles her fish in Hospital ably assisted by local man Kevin Dollery.
“I was looking for a unit and they were quite expensive in the Limerick city area so I went outside the city,” she said of why Hospital was chosen.
A native of Finland, Kirsti is in Ireland since 1999. She first lived in Dublin, then Ennis and then Bunratty before settling in Limerick in 2002.
“I got closer and closer to Limerick,” she smiled
After 10 years managing Milano restaurant on Howley’s Quay in Limerick she decided to follow her calling and bring her pickling skills to Irish herring. All the herring used are caught in Irish waters landed at Killybegs Donegal. Kirsti is Ireland’s only herring pickler.
“I always knew how to pickle fish - it is nothing to do with my official training or anything like that. It is just something that my family and a lot of families in Finland would know. My grandmother would have done it always - it is done in your house regularly.”
Silver Darlings products are now available from numerous high-end retailers such as Avoca, Fallon & Byrne and Lilliput Stores. They are also available from Hederman’s fish stall Cork’s English Market.
Limerick shoppers can sample the full range of Silver Darlings products at their own market stall every Saturday in the Milk Market.
They are on the menu at numerous restaurants including Limerick’s Strand Hotel.
From September, Silver Darlings herring will be available in seven Limerick SuperValu stores including Grove Island, Corbally, Castleconnell and Newcastle West.
Judged by over 400 of the most demanding palates belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, members of the Women’s Institute, farmers and a host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers.
Hundreds of judges have worked hard to discover the very best through hours and hours of blind-tasting a total of 10,000 different foods and drink.