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Sean Hyde. Photo by: Irish Voice Newspaper

Ballymaloe Foods' Sean Hyde brings his family's culinary tradition to America

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Sean Hyde. Photo by: Irish Voice Newspaper

Hyde is the Cork-born, 24-year-old grandson of legendary Irish cook Myrtle Allen. The family business is part of the revolution in Irish foods at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork. His famous family includes his aunt Darina Allen and her daughter-in-law Rachel Allen.  Ballymaloe Foods is an Irish company that produce sauces and condiments for the retail and food service market. It is part of the larger Ballymaloe brand and Hyde is currently developing the company’s American business in New York.
 
When and why did you move to the U.S.?

“I had been over and back for more than two years.  After a great deal of work with the U.S. Embassy in Dublin I was approved for a visa to develop our business in America.  I have been here full time since September. I love it.  Our office and team are in Ireland so I also get to go back every now and then. My girlfriend is still in Ireland so it’s great to get home to see her.”  
 
What’s a typical day like for you?

“I usually roll over in my bed at 6 a.m. and answer any urgent emails on my phone.  I start the day early, end the day late and try and do as much as I can in between.

“I look after the entire U.S. market and all the aspects of the business so my days are very varied.  We import, warehouse and ship to distributors and stores. If a shipment is coming in there is paperwork and customs to deal with or when orders come in they need to be processed and shipped.  Constant stock review needs to be done to ensure we have enough product coming in from Ireland and that proper inventory rotation happens within the warehouse in New Jersey.  Orders then have to be invoiced or we won’t get paid.

“The hardest task of all starts when the products reach the store shelves, as there is little or no recognition of the Ballymaloe name in America so we have to slowly build that and hope that our sales eventually become stronger and consistent.  We are also working with a PR company up to St. Patrick’s Day to help get our name out there.  It is all the usual teething problems of a start-up.”                   
 
What would you say drives you?

“This current opportunity drives me, and the work that has gone on over the past 50 years, building Ballymaloe to what it is today that allows me to be here.  I remember my mother getting up at 5:30 a.m. and going to work to turn on the cookers. She would then come home and get us ready for school before returning to work in time to take off the first batch of cooker product. 

“That along with the work my grandmother Myrtle Allen and my Aunt Darina have done for Ballymaloe and the Irish food industry is ingrained in my mind.  If we can succeed here I hope to pave a way for more of Ireland’s vibrant and growing food companies to follow us to the U.S. market.”
 
What does your year ahead look like?

“It’s going to be busy and exciting.  We are making a big push towards St. Patrick’s Day to get our name out there.   The pressure is on for the rest of the year because if I don’t reach the targets set out every year for the next three years I will be going home. 

“As we are a small family company we will not be able to afford to keep me here if the market does not start returning at least some of the money that has been invested.  I am positive though. I have to be.”
 
How have you engaged with your new surroundings?

“I always try and engage and relate with people wherever I go.  I have lived in many different areas of New York and New Jersey because when I was coming over and back I would find a sublet on Craigslist for a week or two or longer. 

“I live in Harlem at the moment with a guy from home.  It would wear you down sometimes.  My car has gotten broken into a few times, but we have also made friends with many of the neighbors.”

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