Be inspired...

Food story inspiration

Food story inspiration

You have the story and the images now how do you use it to its full potential for your business? We’ve gathered together some great examples of businesses using stories – from Ireland and further afield. Take a look and be inspired...

  • 1. Show some passion >>

  • Two friends baking, an Irish cheeseboard, and a waitress

    It’s great to hear the passion people have for what they do and for the place they operate in. It helps people planning a trip to feel a connection with you. Do use real names and photos if you can – and, where possible, feature others on the team as well as “the boss”.

    We love the story Síle Gorman tells about how love – for the Irish language, and for husband Vincent – brought her to the very edge of the Dingle Peninsula. There are other stories on this website too – about history, language and tradition – all written in an easy-to-read style, using a personal tone

  • 2. Be yourself >>

  • A couple enjoying coffee in Temple Bar, a full Irish breakfast and Kevin Dundon, Irish chef, holding a fish

    Use a natural tone of voice and simple language. Try to write the way that you speak. Steer clear of flowery language or marketing-speak – a simple honest tale, spoken from the heart, means so much more.

    Simon and Kate Kennedy of Killary Fjord Shellfish tell a simple yet effective story. In just over 100 words, we learn about their love of the place they do business, the quality of the product, and a little bit of ‘backstory’ to give it colour.

    In Wales, this couple tell a story in simple everyday language that involves a saucepan left to bubble away on an ancient Aga. It’s telling how a few deceptively simple words can conjure up so much.

    “Seventeen years ago, we had a go at making our own sea salt by leaving a saucepan of Anglesey seawater to bubble away on the ancient Aga in our family kitchen. As the salt crystals started to form, we knew we’d struck culinary gold and Halen Môn was born. Sometimes, things just start like that.”

  • 3. Paint a picture >>

  • Girl at a food stall, a seafood platter and friends chatting over food

    Don’t overcomplicate things or try to cram too much in. Take a single idea and give it ‘air’ to breathe. Sometimes the simplest of tales are the most powerful.

    You can paint a picture in very few words indeed. Enjoying fish & chips at Quinlan’s in Tralee one autumn night, we spotted a blackboard on the wall. Quite simply, it lists what’s on the menu that day and then says “fresh from our own boats to you – from tide to table”. A reassuring and memorable 11-word story about the quality and the freshness of the catch. 

    We’re hearing lots about the new Nordic cuisine these days – but what about Danish hot dog stands?  This narrative about “a truly Danish sight” is light and amusing, and it paints an instant picture of the vendor on the move, holding up the traffic

    And how about this – painting a picture in our mind’s eye of the water buffalo at Napton in England. It’s a lovely touch to mention that they are “a well-known sight to boaters on the Oxford Canal” – bringing leisure and farming together in an idyllic pastoral scene with a difference.

  • 4. Find your point of difference >>

  • Man eating fish and chips. front of the Candy Lab, Dublin, and customers in Clement and Pekoe

    To be memorable, your story needs to be as different as possible – if it’s surprising, then so much the better. But avoid tall tales – they could backfire or be lost in translation.

    This story of a 17th century drovers’ inn in Argyll conjures up a striking image of cattle swimming at low tide from the Isle of Jura (this was the farmers’ first stop on the mainland, after the swim).

    Did you know that the first marshmallows were made for the Pharoahs, and that there’s a condition called Althaiophobia, which is the fear of marshmallows? Neither did we, but the founder of Cloud Nine Marshmallows drew us in with her warm and chatty style and her true stories

  • 5. Flaunt your heritage >>

  • Traditional musicians, tray of fresh cockles, friends eating.

    If you’ve got a business with heritage, then make sure you tell the story to your customers. There’s something very compelling about an enterprise that’s been in the family for generations, or a location with an interesting backstory, or a tradition that’s been passed down.  

    Esther Barron of Barron’s Bakery tells a strong story in this short video from Take Ours Back to Yours – the local food retailer. She talks about how the business was started by her grandfather in the late nineteenth century – and how today “we still use the same Scotch brick ovens to bake our crusty bread … these amazing ovens give our bread the unique taste, flavour and crust” – showing how you can use a long pedigree to promote a strong message about the quality of your offer.

    Here’s the story of five generations of Fultons, tapping, processing and selling Maple Syrup in Ontario. How it grew – in 160 years – from a small personal-production sugar ‘camp’ to a “four-season international destination”. “Every member of the family loves the farm, the people we host from all over the world, and more importantly, the art involved in making maple syrup … We invite you, your family, and friends to share in our family treasure.” 

    Not a long-standing family business, but a building with a fascinating past: the “farm yard hotel” Babylonstoren in South Africa has a rich history and the website uses a timeline to tell the story of the Cape Dutch farm, dating back to 1690, and the garden “inspired by the famous 17th and 18th century Company Gardens at the Cape, as well as the mythical gardens of Babylon”.

    Traditions don’t have to be centuries old or particularly grand. We loved the story we heard about Teddy’s – the Dún Laoghaire institution. If the weather’s fine, walk the length of the pier to kick the stone at the end – then reward yourself with the world’s best soft ice-cream from Teddy’s “Holy Hatch” on the seafront: a seaside ritual that goes back generations. Simple pleasures!

  • 6. Use a sense of place >>

  • Friends eating, a fresh veg shop, a group enjoying a picnic.

    Giving your business a sense of place – whether that’s Ireland, your region, your county, city, town, village, bay or hillside – is a must when you’re in food tourism. People take trips to find someplace different from home – and you need to give them a sense of what’s special about your location, how that impacts on the product or service you offer, and the difference that makes to visitors.

    Have a look at Diarmuid Kelly being interviewed about Galway Bay Oyster Festival, on Fáilte Ireland’s online Foodie TV channel. Diarmuid tells his Oyster story with a natural, low-key warmth – in little more than 60 seconds, he talks of the prehistory & history of the oyster, how it used to be “the poor man’s dish”, the way to eat oysters “it can take you half an hour to eat half a dozen oysters … to really appreciate them”. And he gives it a sense of place, talking about why Galway Bay Oysters have a distinctive flavour – mentioning the limestone in the Burren, sandstone of Connemarra, the fields of Athenrae, and the clean waters of the Atlantic.

    We really like this little story about the place that this Scottish company grows its salmon – so remote, so romantic, you can almost taste the freshness... And it’s in a section of their website called “Where the Wind Blows”, which is rather poetic in itself.  

    As a teenager, Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith from County Clare used to work for her neighbour helping to make St Tola organic goats cheese. Then in the late 90s the neighbours retired, and she moved their herd up to her family farm. Today Siobhán is a Supreme Champion cheesemaker – and passionate about the artisan cheese movement in Ireland.  And why is her cheese so outstanding? On her website she explains that her goats are reared on 65 acres of unspoiled pasturelands – “considered some of the finest and purest farmland of its type in Europe”. In summer they “graze on herb-rich pastures … feeding on buttercups, meadow sweet and wild garlic”. Words to make your taste-buds tingle!  

  • 7. Get inspired >>

  • Staff at the Fumbally Cafe, friends eating in Temple Bar, a girl eating at the Temple Bar food market.

    It’s worth spending a bit of time looking at examples of storytelling at its best. Here are some inspiring places to start.

    “City girl” Margaret O’Farrell writes a delightful international-award-winning blog from Old Farm in Tipperary. It’s written in a warm and personal style – just like she’s talking to you – and has lots of beautiful photographs, taken by the author herself.

    You know what they say about radio: the best pictures are in your head. So take a listen to some podcasts for some of the best storytelling around. Try this one about Cork’s English Market – capturing this atmospheric place brilliantly using words and sounds.

    “Small Green Fields” is a wonderful short film – telling the story of Irish cuisine: “ancient, simple and profound”. American food writer, Imen McDonnell, travels across the green hills and hedgerows of Ireland to interview a handful of representatives from Ireland's remarkable artisanal food and farming community, who talk passionately about what makes their food special and different.