Kayla’s Kitchen super boost in surprise surge

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A BALLYCULLEN business that delivers nutritious and flavour-some frozen meals all over the country saw their customer-base quadruple during the lockdown – as demand for ready-made and healthy food at home soared.

Kayla’s Kitchen was set up by Emmett Harten and Paula Hughes in 2017, after spending several years carefully crafting tasty food that was high in nutrients for their young daughter, Kayla, who has a rare neurological condition called Rett Syndrome which can limit her ability to absorb nutrients.

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Emmett Harten with Paula Hughes and their daughters Kayla and Jamie

The idea for the business developed after Emmett began batch cooking food for Kayla, ensuring the food didn’t contain the most common allergens, but didn’t compromise on taste.

He saw there was demand from friends and family who enjoyed the meals, and realised there was scope for it to grow.

When the lockdown began in mid-March, Kayla’s Kitchen saw a surge in orders, including from people who lived abroad and wanted to send at-home meals to relatives in Ireland who were at-risk, cocooning, or who had newborn babies.

“It picked up a week after the lockdown was announced,” Emmett told The Echo.

“We expected there to be an uplift, because I’d been reading about how food delivery businesses in Wuhan had quadrupled their turnover during their lockdown.

“It was obvious and clear that there would be more demand for ready-meals and food being delivered, but we weren’t prepared for what happened – it was like a tsunami, sales quad-rupled.”

The meals developed by Kayla’s Kitchen cater to all manner of people, including meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, those who have specific dietary needs, and people who just enjoy flavour-filled, nutritious meals, and Emmett believes this may have been a key aspect of the increase in orders.

“People were looking for food that was nourishing,” he explained, “rather than a nutrition-less stopgap.

“They know that when they order from Kayla’s Kitchen they can trust the provenance of the ingredients we use, and that it’s all about good flavour.

“People were really pleased and satisfied that they were getting good food. It’s food you can trust, and food you can live on.”

Following on from their boost during the lockdown, Kayla’s Kitchen looks set to go from strength to strength, as they recently received funding approval from Enterprise Ireland, which will allow them to hire two full-time employees and to continue to grow the business.

Further information on Kayla’s Kitchen is available on their website, www.kaylaskitchen.ie.

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