‘When life gives you lemons... make curd!’
In business little over a year, Ballinagh’s Vanilla Bean Patisserie has won a lucrative contract to supply three of its products to Aldi’s 145 stores nationwide.
Chef Kristijan Kodric found himself at a standstill during the first lockdown, until Andrea Corrigan from the Cavan Enterprise Office contacted him about the 'Grow with Aldi' programme.
Delighted with the opportunity, Kristijan applied with his home-made, award-winning curds, which come in lemon, lime and passionfruit flavours.
“Covid came, I started panicking and I wasn’t sleeping,” Kristijan recalled the struggles of single-handedly starting his own business during the pandemic.
“Then I said okay, when life gives you lemons... make curd!”
Kristijan had made over 10,000 pots of curd in his Ballinagh kitchen within the last 10 days, when speaking to the Celt on Wednesday last.
The curds passed the Aldi taste test with beautiful rich yellow colours and a delicious creamy texture.
“They loved them!” Kristijan declared.
“All of them [taste testers] wanted to take whatever was left in the jars home.”
Not only have the curds got a huge thumbs up from the Aldi team, they will also be stocked in SuperValu in May 2022.
Award winning American actor, Tom Arnold, is a fan and the curds are being used as a core ingredient in chef Shane Smith’s desserts.
It is no wonder since Kristijan has been making curds for more than 15 years and has been perfecting his top-secret recipe.
“The ratios of ingredients are a little different to what you would expect in a normal curd recipe,” was all Kristijan could reveal to the Celt, adding that he preferred a “creamier” curd.
With an ambient shelf life of 10-14 months, the deal was sealed with Aldi. Kristijan was one of 57 suppliers involved in the programme, and the only supplier from County Cavan of which he is enormously proud.
“In every [social media] post I use the #GrowwithAldi but I also use the #CreatedinCavan.”
Hailing from Croatia, the chef has had a whirlwind career to date. He previously served as President of the Croatian Pastry Association, was an International World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS) judge, the youngest executive pastry chef for the Westin Hotels in the world at 24 years and has a book published in his native country.
His Irish journey began when the Slieve Russell Hotel scouted him as head pastry chef, he has also served as executive pastry chef in Tankardstown House Slane and Castle Leslie Estate.
“It has been an interesting journey,” said Kristijan who started trading within his own business with one product last Easter.
He now provides a food service to a customer base of over 3,000, including many high-profile hotels such as The K Club, Castle Leslie and The Hotel Kilmore, with over 200 products on the market.
The entrepreneur said that he is not going to stop there with plans to go global in the future but says “the core business will always be in County Cavan".
Kristijan knew he has wanted to become a chef since kindergarten and is incredibly happy with how things are working out.
“I’m a pastry chef by trade, by love, by heart, by everything I’m a pastry chef,” he said.
People can follow the Vanilla Bean Patisserie on Facebook and Instagram to be in with the chance of winning vouchers to spend in Aldi's stores.
Produce can be ordered through the website, which can be accessed at: https://www.vanillabean.ie/
The curds will be marketed as a 'Specialbuy' event in Aldi stores for two weeks. The offer commences tomorrow (Sunday), June 6.