Women Of The Irish Food Industry – Aoife Ryan

Women Of The Irish Food Industry – Aoife Ryan

You may not have have heard of Aoife Ryan, but if you have been eating on planes or trains, it is likely that you have tasted her work. 

Aoife Ryan, also known as Babaduck, has a job that I find most enviable. She essentially travels a lot to eat food so that others can eat better while travelling. To me, this is the ideal job. Up and down to the continent eating rings around myself? Sign me up! 

I know Aoife Ryan through food blogging and I am fierce fond of her. I don’t agree with her take on the women of the food industry and their visibility but I’ve been known to steal ham from her plate so we’re even. 

I’m talking to women in the food industry, what brought you into this category and what do you do?

I actually started writing about food in 2009 as Babaduck and over the years built up a reputation as being knowledgeable about food & drink. A happy accident led me to Retail inMotion which was an airline startup when I joined in 2012. I’m now Products Manager, sourcing and developing fabulous food & beverage products for airline and rail passengers all over the world.

How does your career fulfill you?

I love nothing more than seeing our menus on a flight or train journey. A huge amount of teamwork goes into creating a client range, from the first contact with a supplier to showing a customer why the products are amazing to being on set at a range photoshoot. It’s a long, sometimes stressful process, but I love finding the next big thing in food.

What are your ambitions for the next 2 years?

Our client base is changing – we have a huge amount of customers in Europe but now I’m working on a project in the Middle East and there’s more opportunities in Asia and the US in the pipeline. I need to move out of my comfort zone and understand more about what people want to eat on a global scale.

What do you think can be done to help raise the profile and visibility of women in the food industry in Ireland.

I actually think that Ireland’s food industry is run by women. Look at most of the brands on shelves and you’ll know a woman there, from Ballymaloe Relish to Dr Coy’s. Panels at industry events are becoming far more equal (I’ll be on one next month!)

Tell us of one woman in the Irish food industry who consistently inspires you and why.

So many inspiring women to choose from… my choice is Maureen Gahan in Bord Bia. She is a true champion of Irish food companies and does outstanding work in connecting suppliers with buyers

Have you had any challenges in your career that a man in the same position would not have had to face?

None whatsoever. Having an Irish name makes me memorable at trade shows and I love chatting to people about products because I’m a natural consumer and love food.

Have you had a wow moment to date in your career? If so which one was it and why?

I think it was when my mum was on a flight and told cabin crew that her daughter created the cake she was about to buy. It’s still listed and utterly delicious!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be fearless. You’re far more capable than you give yourself credit for.

In your opinion, what’s the most underrated spice.

I adore smoked paprika – it’s great as a base note in nearly all spice rubs and marinades

What is your go to recipe when you need comfort?

I make a great cottage pie and there’s nothing nicer than a bowl of it on a miserable day (like today!). Apple crumble is the perfect dessert too.

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