Founder and chef Rory McCarthy, is a 2nd generation chef and restauranteur and credits his family heritage with his keen sense of taste & flavour and his passion for high quality food and local produce in particular. Rory grew up immersed in the kitchen of his mother’s restaurant. She was passionate about providing quality food and service using only the highest quality produce to cook for her loyal customers. Rory has carried this ethos and entrepreneurial spirit into the running of the restaurant creating menu favourites beloved by local & tourist alike.
Rory is a huge supporter of his local community and prides himself on his family heritage. Rory’s grandfather earned the nickname ‘Camo’ due to his calm demeanour and both the name and the calm nature have passed on through the generations to Rory himself. The original ‘Camo’ can be seen looking mighty dapper in his suit & hat on the company logo and packaging of ‘Camo’s Artisan Products’, ensuring the ‘Camo’ legacy lives proudly on.
In this Q&A we learn about the origins of Rory McCarthy’s passion for food, increased demand for local produce, business challenges, and much more.
Can you tell us a bit about Camo’s Artisan Foods?
CAMO’s Artisan Foods is the brainchild of renowned chef Rory McCarthy, owner and proprietor of the popular Camo’s restaurant which is nestled in the town of Caherciveen, Co.Kerry, on Ireland’s beautiful ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. During his 20 year career and in particular over the last 10 years since he opened his restaurant , Rory has been taking note of the growth in the artisan food sector. Over the years he has attained a particular notoriety for the calibre of fresh produce and the in-house selection of dressings, chutneys, marinades and glazes that he uses in his dishes, with customers begging for him to share the family recipes. Sensing an opportunity and knowing better than to share the family secrets he set about creating a commercial premium product line in 2017 to cater for the growing consumer desire for products and brands that have real, authentic and honest origins. Camo’s artisan foods employs 3 people plus a production team based in Co. Laois.
What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them particularly in the current climate?
The main challenge right now is scaling the business to expand our reach outside of Munster. The distribution costs require us to fund large production to achieve economies of scale to ensure we can handle the distribution costs. Currently we are distributing ourselves throughout Kerry & Cork to approximately 25 stockist- Supervalu’s, Centra’s and private independent gourmet speciality stores.
Have you seen an increased demand for locally produced food due to the current Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes, we have always had a loyal following due to the growth in support for locally produced products over the past number of years, and because South Kerry has such an influx of Irish holiday makers during the summer months we have always had great demand for our products from holiday makers also. Due to Covid, this demand has increased tenfold with requests for online purchasing options and postage to all parts of Ireland and the EU as travel was curtailed. Through a mixture of our successful and consistent digital marketing & social media presence and the subsequent word of mouth from those requests there has been a definite increase in demand.
Where do you get inspiration for new food innovation/products?
Rory credits his family heritage with his keen sense of taste & flavour and his passion for high quality food and local produce in particular. His local environment and the feedback from his customers and his interest in travel and other cuisines has also been a great inspiration to the innovative in his recipes.
What made you become a member of Guaranteed Irish?
Camo’s Artisan Foods has grown from a small side business to one showing great potential, and it was important for us to become a GI member as we would love to expand to the export market in due course and we feel that the GI seal of approval is something that is vital to our success both at home and abroad as we prepare to scale our business.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Camo’s Artisan Foods over the next five years?
Over the next 5 years we have a phased approach plan to first expand through Munster, then the rest of Ireland, and eventually expanding to export our product internationally with a focus on Europe & The Middle East first.