Food Entrepreneurs: Cooking Like a Start-Up

Ross Golden-Bannon, Jonas Singer, Colum O’Sullivan and David FlynnJonas Singer, Co-founder of Union Kitchen in Washington, D.C., provided an informative insight into collaboration in the start-up food sector during a panel discussion at the Embassy on February 4th. Ross Golden-Bannon, Restaurant Critic with the Sunday Business Post chaired the discussion which included Colum O’Sullivan, Co-Founder, Cully & Sully and Stephen Flynn, Co-Founder, The Happy Pear.

Jonas Singer is the co-founder of Union Kitchen, a food incubator in Washington, D.C. that helps small food businesses grow, sustain, and succeed. Jonas was born in the Washington, D.C. area, achieved a Bachelor’s Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master’s Degree from the Johns Hopkins University in Government and Public Policy. After working in sports and in non-profits for 8 years, Jonas and Cullen Gilchrist launched the Blind Dog Cafe in 2012. In trying to expand the cafe, the duo was confronted with the challenges in growing a successful small business. Out of this challenge grew the opportunity to launch Union Kitchen. Union Kitchen provides food businesses with access to a full-fledged commercial kitchen while also providing much needed technical assistance, ranging from consultation on pricing and packaging to assistance with social marketing to – most importantly – helping businesses get their product to market. Union Kitchen aims to build the community we want to live in, helping business and culture thrive.

Colum O’Sullivan, co-founder of Cully & Sully with Cullen Allen, set up the now famous quality ready-made meal range in 2005. The initial soup offering set a new benchmark in pre-prepared retail food and the range soon grew to include pies and stews. In 2012 the New York based organic food company Hain Celestial acquired Cully & Sully for some €10 million. The foodie founders remain at the helm of their company as it expands into Belgium and the UK with further plans of expansion into the US.

Identical twins David and Stephen Flynn set up the Happy Pear in Greystones, Co Wicklow in 2004. The natural food market and café has always been a step ahead of the curve when it came to food knowledge – the Happy Pear is as keen to sell the health benefits of good food along with the food itself. They expanded their bricks and mortar store to include an online offering which included their popular Happy Heart on-line course. The course helps people reduce their cholesterol and teaches them to integrate a healthy diet into everyday life.

Ross Golden-Bannon has been the Restaurant Critic at The Sunday Business Post since 2001. He was the editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine from May 2008 to July 2013. He is co-founder of The Guerrilla Gourmet Club, with Robert Lee Mulcahy which was established to link artisan producers with anchor brands, to help amplify their voice. Ross is also editor of ‘FEAST a dinner journal’ with Donal Skehan and the author of the ebook ‘How to Write About Food’. He was elected to membership of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild in 2006.