Entrepreneur Peter McCloskey talks to us about Collar of Gold, an innovative Irish oil finding favour in the kitchens of some of Dublin’s best-known restaurants.
Peter, tell us about the origins of Collar of Gold.
I’ve spent all my working life in food manufacturing, branding and distribution as part of my family’s business the Boyne Valley Group. For a number of years now I have been trying to develop a new Irish food product that would offer a substantial benefit by way of both provenance and performance attributes using a manufacturing method that was entirely natural, playing to the provenance and purity of Ireland’s food products. Following a significant amount of research and investment we’ve developed Collar of Gold, a naturally pure rapeseed oil that doesn’t add any smell, taste or colour to your food or the environment that you’re cooking in.
That sounds unique. What kinds of challenges were involved in developing the product?
We developed a special manufacturing method that uses only water vapour to remove the naturally occurring smell, taste and colour from Irish rapeseed oil. We had to license a laboratory to make the product for trial marketing purposes, and that was very complicated both in terms of protecting IP, as well as not fully knowing what we were going to get in the first few trial production runs. There were huge challenges and costs involved in executing the technology we devised, but we’re delighted with the results. Collar of Gold’s absolute purity means it has extraordinary thermal stability, so it doesn’t break down under heat like other oils. Its lightness and thinness of consistency means you use far less of it in a pan or any form of cooking and because it doesn’t contain any undesirable elements or solvent residues from the processing side it’s much healthier than the so-called “taste-less” oils out there.
Collar of Gold has been quickly adopted in the kitchens of some of Dublin’s most respected restaurants. Why do you think that is?
We’re getting really good feedback and some of the chefs using it have said they’ve never come across anything like it. One guy told me; “I knew it was really good, but I didn’t realize just how good it was until I ran out of it.” We don’t use any intensive heat processes and we don’t use chemical processes and as a consequence the fatty acid chains in Collar of Gold are unbroken and the naturally occurring lecithins are retained. This means it has terrific emulsifying properties, which holds for a much longer time, making it perfect for creating things like mayonnaise and all forms of baked cake batter. The eating quality is far more succulent and you can very clearly taste the caramelizing of the starches that have been used. It’s really only then that it becomes apparent just how much other cheaper oils contribute to an ill or not desired taste.
We’re very proud to have Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and Chapter One Restaurant, King Sitric in Howth, the Red Bank in Skerries, Eastern Seaboard in Drogheda and Air B&B food service as high profile customers. We also have four of London’s leading restaurants as weekly users including Five Fields Restaurant in Chelsea, Lorne restaurant in Victoria and the Dysart in Petersham in Surrey.
What inspired the name?
Ireland has the most extraordinary collection of prehistoric gold, most noteworthy of which are the gold collars. We believe that they were very important symbols of purity and royalty amongst people living in Ireland 4,000 years ago and that seemed a very fitting device and name to use for our range of high quality Irish food products.
We’ve used the Gleninsheen Gorget, which was found in the 1830s by two children when their small dog chased a rabbit down a hole. They ran after the dog and ended up in an underground compartment of some kind where they discovered the item, which is now part of the national prehistoric collection in the National Museum.
We got fantastic support from Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and the local Louth Enterprise Office, Bord Bia’s Brandworks programme opened up a panorama of support including access to some very sophisticated tools that wouldn’t typically be available to small Irish producers otherwise.
That also opened doors to a choice of a number of Ireland’s leading design and branding houses and we worked with Mesh Design in Donnybrook to come up with something that was visually different and able to communicate the visual shelf proposition of the product.
What else do you have planned for the year ahead?
We have a range of spreads, mayonnaises, sauces and ready to use vinagerette dressings on the way as well as some nice lithograph printed tins that we’re familiar seeing expensive olive oils in. They’ll be available in gift size versions, so watch out for those. We’re also making good headway in food service and manufacturing in Ireland and in the United Kingdom. SuperValu have put us into a large number of stores and Dunnes Stores just came on board last week so we’re really delighted at this very important support from Irish retailers.
Collar of Gold is available through Supervalu, Dunnes Stores, Musgraves, VWG, La Rousse foods and many independent food service suppliers.
Words: Martina Murray