I’m an accidental entrepreneur. If life is like a boat journey down a long winding river, sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it is rough; but the journey is exciting. Your reaction to the journey defines your life experience.Without realising it, my food journey started when I married a farmer. Abandoned (!) in the countryside miles from the local shop, you soon honed your baking skills. Throw in a dash of ill health ( children, not mine ..), and there developed the interest in the relationship of food versus health. Add a pinch of necessity ( declining farming incomes and tough conditions) to spark the interest in having an extra income . And finally a large spoonful of opportunity. ( I was asked to bake for a local restaurant) All combined to make a little bakery business. That was 1999. Fast forward to 2004 and the little business turned into a slightly bigger business. The Foods of Athenry was born. The cows were sold and the bakery moved into the now empty, but refurbished (!), milking parlour. The popularity of the products meant that the range grew quite quickly and we were soon available in 30 stores across Galway City and County. With farming in our past and food in our future, we worked hard on achieving the best, most delicious, original and additive free range. As we always had a ‘clean label’ philosophy based on the ethos that if we would not feed something to our own children, then we would not feed it to someone else’s – the transition into fully certified Gluten Free was a natural one. In 2010, the journey continued with the development of a new range and a new bakery on site. In June 2011, almost ready to launch our new gluten free range, the ‘boat’ capsized when the bakery burnt down. We lost everything, including all our recipes, packaging, stock and suppliers lists, every piece of equipment we owned. Paul and I just looked at the devastation and wondered how we could come back from this. Son Eoin said, “We did it once, we can do it again.” So, back in the boat and the journey continued. Friends and family leapt in to help with the clearing up initially and fast forward to June 2012 when a year after the fire, we were opening our new purpose built bakery still on the family farm containing two specific kitchens – one for our previous standard baking range and a special coeliac society approved kitchen for the new gluten free range, and launching this new Gluten Free bakery range into 300 Irish supermarkets. We are now available nationwide in all Ireland’s leading retailers as well as fine food stores and health shops and have major plans afoot for export. Customer reaction to the gluten free range has been fantastic. We now produce a range of Gluten Free Crackers, Breakfast Cereals, Cakes, Cookies, Flapjacks, Bars & Christmas baking. The high taste profile means that it appeals to both coeliacs who ‘must eat’ GF for health reasons – and also those who are ‘choosing to eat’ – because of the health benefits and because they taste so good. Winning 7 Great Taste Awards in 2012 added to our tally, making a grand total of 27 Taste Awards in the last 4 years. Winning the Good Food Ireland Producer of the Year in 2012 was the icing on the cake, post our disasterous 2011. So in 2013, the journey carries on and we have come through the last 2 years stronger, closer, resilient and more determined than ever. We look forward to what’s around the bend and we will embrace it, as we have always done. Our life in food continues.