True characters: Colin Jephson, Fáilte Ireland food champion

Sat, Oct 6, 2012, 01:00

My business is . . .Ardkeen Quality Food Store, an independent food retailer in Waterford.

I’m also a food champion. . . apparently, having been nominated by Fáilte Ireland to travel with a group to Prince Edward County in Ontario to see how they have made food part of the attraction of the area.

Doing business in the food sector in Ireland is. . . good fun and rewarding when you get it right.

My customers are. . . wonderful – nearly all of them! – I’m certainly very grateful for them.

The hardest thing about running a food store is. . . delivering great customer service while controlling costs. At Ardkeen we achieve this only because our staff are willing to “go the extra mile” for customers when necessary. They are the real champions.

The next big thing in food retailing will be. . . food produced in our own communities. Like cheese and now beer, local craft makers are springing up to produce small quantities of high quality food such as breads, cakes, meats and preserves. More importantly, consumers are valuing what they are doing more than ever.

It gives me a buzz . . .when we bring a great new supplier to our customers. It is exciting to see new enterprises get a foothold in the market.

The best advice I’ve ever been given . . .you can’t fatten a pig on the day of the fair.

If I wasn’t doing this . . .I’d be growing grapes and olives in Tuscany (in my dreams!).

When I’m not working . . .I like to get on my bike and find a few miles of quiet road.

My dream dinner party guests would be . . .Graham Norton, Rachel Allen, former US senator George Mitchell, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Keith Wood, Lara Marlowe.

And I’d cook them . . .Comeragh mountain lamb with Green Saffron spices, and chocolate squiggy log.

Five things I always have in my larder are . . .Deise honey, Meridian peanut butter, High Bank Orchard apple syrup, decent chocolate (hidden), De Cecco pasta

My ideal day off is spent . . .with my family, somewhere sunny.

I’m passionate about . . . juicing. Whatever else I eat during the day, I always try to have a good fruit and vegetable smoothie. I often make my own, but having a Juice Master juice bar at work is really convenient.

I’m really good at . .. listening, or so I have been told.

I wish I was better at . . .getting myself organised.

I often imagine myself . . .walking on a warm, sandy beach, somewhere in the Caribbean probably.

Not many people know this about me, but . .. I coach the U15 rugby team at Waterpark RFC.

My guilty pleasure is . . .chocolate, of course.

In conversation with Marie-Claire Digby


Colin Jephson is director of Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford, ardkeen.com