Stephen and David Flynn opened The Happy Pear in Wicklow ten years ago and have been championing healthy eating ever since. They tell us about the inspiration and experience that has gone into their first cookbook The Happy Pear: Recipes and Stories from the First Ten Years.
What inspired you to open The Happy Pear?
We both studied business degrees and at the time our definition of success was being millionaires before we were 30. We always knew we want to do our own thing together but felt there had to be more to life than getting a ‘real’ job so like a lot of our generation we went off travelling in search of truth and meaning! We ended up, weirdly, both becoming veggie at the same time and spent a couple of years getting very into health and food.
We came back after a couple of years of our truth seeking adventures with a new definition of success, where we wanted to do something around health and community and fresh food. We were really clear that we wanted to make the world a happy healthier place, starting with Greystones where we grew up.
If you had to describe to someone what The Happy Pear is all about, what would you say?
Not to sound too grandiose but it’s all about making a happier, healthier world! At the moment it is a shop that specialises in organic fruit and veg, health foods, a wholefood café and restaurant. We have two farms; a wheatgrass and sprout one, and a partnership in cherry and plum farm. We are super into education and run health education courses. We have an online education course showing people how to lower their cholesterol and reverse heart disease by simply changing their diet (www.happyheartcourse.com). We also make our award winning pesto that we distribute nationwide. We also have an online shop and a second café. At the moment we employ about 60 great people.
Although our food and cookbook is all vegetarian, we are not about converting people to be vegetarians or vegans or anything like that. Our message is very simple: we want to encourage and inspire people to eat more veg! We are not doctors or scientists. We’re chefs and practitioners and we know enough about the theory but we’re all about the practical application of eating healthier and primarily eating more veg – and by veg we mean fruit, veg, wholefoods, cereals, beans, legumes). It’s a really simple message, the most basic of advice that our mothers and grannies have been telling us since we started eating!
What’s it like working with your twin brother? Apart from your brother Darragh who runs The Farm, are there any other family members involved in the business?
Being identical twins, we do have a special bond. Not to sound super cheesy but we were once one egg that split into two so there is a special sort of connection. It makes it very easy working together as we are nearly always on the same page when it comes to decision-making and we both want the same for the business. Unfortunately it means we both have the same skill set and the same strengths and weaknesses.
Our brother Darragh has the green fingers of the family and he runs the farms, all the distribution and production of our pestos and other bits. Our Mum, Ismay, is brill and loves to help with everything. She is powerful and is behind us all the way. Dad helps us with strategy and business bits, he’s real smart and wise and not impetuous like us. Our other brother Mark is the cool Flynn – he is a DJ and lives in Berlin. For the Body&Soul festival each year he runs our DJ stage, which is a great collaboration of electronic beats and healthy wholesome food!
Tell us about the process of creating your cookbook. What were the unexpected joys about writing the book? What were the unexpected challenges?
We have wanted to do a book for the last five years but it never happened. We have had customers ask us for recipes and to do a book for years and this was the real motivation to do the book. We have been in business for 10 years next month so we thought it was a great milestone to celebrate. Penguin came along late last year and it has turned out to be a fantastic partnership. We even had the same art director do the book that does all of Jamie Oliver’s books. And although the book is in our name, it’s the work of all the wonderful people and chefs that make up The Happy Pear. We have some amazing chefs contributing to the book; Dorene, Claire, Phil, Michelle and Jen. Dave pulled the whole thing together and he realised he loves to write.
What’s next for The Happy Pear?
Onwards and upwards! Education is a huge focus for us. Being chefs we’re very good at the application of leading science around healthy eating. One of our main skills is how to eat these healthy foods and make them taste great. Everyone wants to be happy and if you’re healthy it’s easier to be happy, look good and feel good. In schools, colleges & universities, businesses, whatever – we want to help you eat more veg and be healthier.
Find out more about The Happy Pear and order their cookbook at www.thehappypear.ie
The Happy Pear
Main Street, Greystones Co. Wicklow