Meet our food champions...

Colin Jephson

I really believe in the value of what we do and love seeing that this is now so valued by others. I’ve enjoyed seeing the realisation happen that our food is as good as anywhere. It's heartening to be part of it all, to have a special little place in all of this.

Colin Jephson

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Colin Jephson

Portrait of Colin JephsonNurturing small producers, building the local food landscape | Waterford

The Jephsons were championing small food producers “before it was fashionable”. Their family owned Ardkeen Quality Food Store on the edge of Waterford. They are very much rooted in the community and stocks products from about 180 Irish producers, the majority of whom they buy from direct.

The store was opened in 1967 by Colin’s parents and began life as a petrol station and small grocery store, but over time they saw that local food was something of value and a niche they could specialise in. In the past they had to search for suppliers, but around the year 2000, a tipping point was reached where producers started to come to them. Colin, who is now Managing Director of the store, “kind of always worked there. Everyone had their jobs after school”.

Colin sees their job as not just providing shelf-space for food producers but to nurture them and to help tell their story. He believes Ardkeen plays its part in Ireland’s food experience by encouraging and helping small producers to get going and grow, and “form part of the food landscape, offer visitor experiences, crop up on restaurant menus”. But the store, with its huge array of quality Irish produce, is in itself a visitor experience.

Ardkeen are on the cusp of launching their latest project, an extensive online store. This will bring small-scale Irish producers – selling their produce and telling their stories – to a wider audience. Colin would also like to develop a map of food based tourism experiences within an hour of Waterford to further showcase their local producers.