arri Kitchen, the Armagh specialist in South-East Asian meals, has signed an agreement that will see its products in the chillers of EUROSPAR and SPAR convenience stores across the country.
The latest distribution deal for Karri Kitchen is with the Henderson Group in Newtownabbey, one of Ireland’s biggest food wholesalers.
A Food NI member, Karri Kitchen, which is owned and run by husband and wife team Chris, an experienced businessman, and Shera McAloran, a talented chef, and based in Portadown, is now Ireland’s fastest growing provider of a delicious range of healthy ready-meals with rich South-East Asian flavours.
EUROSPAR and SPAR shoppers are now able to enjoy eight ready-meals that have been crafted by Shera, who created the recipes from her own upbringing in Indonesia, and her team at Carn Industrial Estate, one of Northern Ireland’s leading food processing hubs.
The restaurant quality dishes include the multi-award winning mango chicken curry, spicy coconut chicken curry, black pepper beef and Mongolian beef noodles. They are being launched in the vast network on a two for the price £9 offer.
Formed in 2019, Karri Kitchen is a remarkable success story of enterprise and innovation in food development and production. It now includes many of the leading retailers here and in the Republic of Ireland among its customers.
“We are thrilled to have been listed by the Henderson Group for such a range of our convenience meals. It’s a major endorsement that will offer access to many thousands of shoppers across Northern Ireland,” says Shara, who has vast experience of South East Asian cuisine from food preparation at home near Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. Her dishes are high-protein and low calorie. They have also won UK Great Taste and Blas na hEireann Irish National Food awards.
The small company achieved gold in the ready meals category in the highly influential Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards this year, an event watched closely by top grocery retailers.
“We decided to approach Henderson’s when we heard that there was an opportunity for the healthy and nutritious ready meals that we have been creating and processing here in Portadown. They subsequently placed a contract after sampling and enjoying our dishes. It’s a very exciting development for us,” she adds.
The company has been awarded Best Poultry Ready Meal in Ireland for its mango chicken curry and a Healthy Product Innovation Award at the Irish Food Awards. The tasty and nutritious meals were also a hit at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards, winning the Healthier Product Innovation Award and Highly Commended in the Small Company Award.
Karri Kitchen – Karri is the Indonesian for curry – has supplied ALDI, the German supermarket chain in the Republic. Other major customers include LIDL, SuperValu, Mace NI, Centra, NISA Northern Ireland and Morrison’s in Britain.
Shera moved to Sydney in Australia from her home in Indonesia for her education and earned a degree in business management and marketing at the respected Australian Pacific College (APC).
She worked in hospitality during her time at APC. “I had always been interested in running my own small business and had no hesitation about a career in hospitality on graduation. Hospitality and clean, healthy eating have always been part of my life. It’s how I’ve been raised, my work experience, and our lifestyle,” she says. Overall, Shera lived and worked in Sydney for 12 years.
She met husband Chris, who has a successful garage in Portadown, during his visit to Australia and they subsequently married. The couple, who now have a young son choose to set up home in his home town and soon started a small food business there.
Shera pursued her career in management but was then encouraged to think seriously about food preparation by family and friends who loved the distinctive Indonesian and other Asian themes and flavours of her meals.
She brought to the start-up experience and authentic recipes gained cooking alongside her mother in the kitchen at home on traditional dishes that are rich in flavours, colourful and depend on fresh vegetables, meats, rice and a variety of fruits. Shera’s passion for good food is firmly rooted in those days.
“I’ve carried this focus on fresh and local ingredients into the dishes within the Karri Kitchen portfolio,” she continues. “We endeavour to us as many ingredients from local suppliers as practicable,” she adds. Local suppliers include Lynas Foods in Coleraine; M&W Meats; and Gilfresh, both Portadown.
“All of our food is healthy and perfect for those who want to eat a balanced, healthy and nutritious diet,” Shera adds