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Blanco Niño - We interview the Irish Tortilla champion!

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by Startacus Admin

Philip Martin was born and raised on an organic farm in north Dublin. In 2012 he opened the award winning restaurant Little Ass Burrito Bar on Dawson Street.

Philip wanted to sell Tacos but felt the quality available in Ireland wasn’t that good – so he decided he would Philip Martin Blanco Ninomake them himself.

He travelled to Mexico to visit farms, mills, and tortilla factories – there he learned about tortillas from the field to the plate.

Philip now wants to build Europe’s first corn tortilla factory. He has spent the last two years researching tortillas and the history of corn as a Mexican food culture.

The Best Taco competition in Dublin was blown away by Blanco Niño, Philip’s company. Blanco Nino also featured in the Taste of Mexico Festival where the top two places were won by 777 and Little Ass - both using Blanco Niño tortillas.

So...hungry to find out more, we caught up with the Blanco Nino folk to find out more about this exciting and tasty sounding Irish/Mexican venture…

We all love nachos and tortillas of course, but Irish nachos? We're intrigued! So, tell us a little about the background of the company? Where did the idea come from and what made you want to do this specifically?

It’s quite simple really. When our founder Philip Martin, was setting up his Mexican restaurant (Little Ass Burrito Bar) in Dublin he founded himself puzzled and frustrated with not being able source great real corn tortillas, which can be found on every street corner in Mexico. For this reason to this date he still hasn’t added tacos to his menu, believing it would be blasphemy of some kind to do so without the real deal. So Philip decided to make his own, and set out on what is now known as the tortilla revolution.

Tell us all about Nixtamalization? What is it and what are its benefits?

Nixtamalization is an ancient cooking method developed by the lovely people of Mesoamerica over 3000 years ago. It’s essentially the cooking of maize in a limestone (the stuff that comes out of the ground) solution which transforms maize from being a relatively indigestible nutrient trapped plant into an incredibly flavoursome, nutritious and easily digestible food.

www.blanco-nino.comWill the brand be exported as Irish or Mexican? Or a Tex-Mex of both?

You could say the Blanco Niño brand draws inspiration from both Ireland and Mexican, but not entirely one or the other. We very much celebrate the deep food cultural and history of Mexico, while also embracing the sustainability focused and story telling nature of our Irishness.

Where are you at as a business at the moment?

Right now we’re currently seeking investors via the crowd equity investment platform CrowdCube. Basically anyone that invests today can expect a potential ROI multiple of 10. Meaning if you invest £1 today it is projected to have a valuation of £11 in year 5. Which we think is a pretty incredible return. But don’t take our word for it, our full finance forecasts and business plan are available to the general public via http://www.crowdcube.com/investment/blanco-nino-14836 if you’re interested.

What has been your biggest challenge to date in getting the project to where it is now?blanco nino

The biggest challenge to date with the project has been the maintaining of forward momentum. As with any project of this scale it can become a bit of monster. But the simple daily approach of breaking larger tasks into smaller more daily achievable to-dos has meant there’s a regular sense of achievement and progress.

What is your vision for the future? What is next for the business?

Next we need to get the investment and money in the bank. Unfortunately without funds nothing happens. In the longer term, my vision for the business is for it to become the world’s number one quality corn tortilla, tortilla chip and masa harina producer. Not biggest but the best.
And with that we had to ‘wrap’ up the interview. We'd like to thank the good folk at Blanco Niño and wish them all the best for the future and with the taste of Mexico now in Ireland, ‘we will be putting in our order’...

...Penned by Dermot McBride

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Published on: 16th March 2014

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