For over fifteen years Gerald Kelleher (or GIK to his friends) from Olives West Cork has been a stalwart of the markets of West Cork to a point where he and his team currently attend eight markets a week all over the area. Olives West Cork serve a range of artisan products, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh pastes and an array of Mediterranean fare to loyal customers who return week after week.
“The markets provide such a unique buzz and are a great leveller; you never know who you’re going to meet or strike up a great conversation with,” says Gerald. “I feel very privileged on so many levels to have my business in West Cork. The people that surround me never fail to inspire me, be it my fantastic group that work with me, the wonderful chefs, the customers, the producers and those involved in the promotion and distribution of good food all over West Cork. There are so many layers to the story of food in West Cork”.
Recent developments, particularly the challenges of the COVID-19 lock-down, have put the idea of local food producers and retailers sharply into focus. “Apart from the obvious health issues and the seriousness of the pandemic, it really broke a lot of traders hearts when the markets were suddenly closed last March. As food retailers it left a lot of excellent local producers unable to sell their wonderful, fresh products to the general public. Thankfully, initiatives such as Neighbourfood (an online, prepaid collection service for local producers) and the continued support of local supermarkets and food retail outlets we survived”.
Gerald believes it is the generations of food producers gone by, and those who have supported them, who have contributed to the growth and recognition of good food in the area, particularly the local market scene. It has created a unique environment for future generations to come through with ideas in food. “I have great respect for those that have come before me and the current generation coming through. As a community we’re all in this together and I believe the foundations in West Cork are strong and are firmly set for years to come.”