At a dinner party in 2003, whilst savouring a glass of Irish whiskey with his host and friend, Tony Reid, Martin Hamilton had an idea. He dreamed of setting up a production facility on his farm to produce Champ, the traditional Ulster dish. After much discussion, determination and hard work, that dream became a reality. A small factory was built and Mash Direct was born.
Martin and his wife Tracy had been successfully growing and selling vegetables for over 25 years, Martin himself being a fifth generation son of the soil. They decided to return to the traditional tastes their mothers and grandmothers used to know, now almost lost. Using vegetable varieties grown for taste - not appearance - they developed a small plant on the farm to recreate a traditional cooking style. A number of pieces of equipment were specially built by Tony, including a unique masher and a steam cooker and Mash Direct was ready to begin. The only thing that was left were the potatoes. Martin and his two sons, Lance and Jack, went out to the fields and harvested the first Mash Direct crop.
Ten years later they have grown from our humble beginnings supplying Champ to local butchers and St. George’s Market in Belfast to now supplying over thirty different products across the UK and Ireland and as far as New York and Dubai. They now not only mash but dice, slice, chop, shred, steam and fry to make their multi-award winning range.
Where Would You Like to See Your Business in 5 Years Time?
Our markets in the UK and Ireland are growing from strength to strength and we believe that the vegetables that we have in this part of the world are amongst the best out there. We already export to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and New York and we believe that we will continue to grow strongly in the next five years both at home and abroad.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
We introduced our Vegetable Burgers during the celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary earlier this year and since then I have basically been living on them so it would be hard to look past the Vegetable Burgers.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier - a true champion of potatoes.
Written by Gerry Haughian