In the hot seat

Susie Hamilton Stubber, owner ,Burren Balsamics

Susie Hamilton Stubber, owner, Burren Balsamics

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I have an extremely diverse background. I was brought up in Fermanagh, taught to cook by my mother and, while working as an admin assistant in London, I used to cook at parties and lunches. After marrying, we came home to Northern Ireland, where I have been involved with the Pony Club, Riding for the Disabled and then worked in the local vets. I took the plunge and formed Burren Balsamics in 2013.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE

My morning starts with walking my dogs which gives me time to think about the day ahead. I try and hit the paperwork for an hour or so before going out to help with the production – infusing and straining the fruit, tasting, bottling and labelling. I always cook something fresh in the evening and we sit down together.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

I have had a wonderful year, receiving five stars for products in the Great Taste awards, and then winning gold at the Blas na hÉireann awards, along with the Best in Armagh, the Shane McArdle Award for the Best in Ulster, and finally the Best Artisan Product.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

This has to be customer satisfaction. To see the unexpected pleasure in customers’ faces when they try our products. The excitement of creating new flavours and the experimentation and development of recipes to pair with them.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK?

Time management. There are never enough hours in the day.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

A great friend says to me every so often: ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal. Make the best of every day’.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE

Paying a lot of money for mediocre food. Ingredients are exceptionally good now so I think that there is no excuse.

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?

I would love to be a better gardener. I think I am probably a bit of a disappointment to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are both fantastic gardeners.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/AMBITIONS?

To build our market and export our products beyond the UK and Ireland. The company has come so far in the last few years, but we must continue to look ahead.

WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

I truly admire all those who have succeeded through adversity – those who battle their demons to achieve their dreams.

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?

Having just come back from a lovely holiday with exceptional friends in South Africa, it has to be towards the top of the list. I am a home bird really and Fermanagh would be at the very top.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?

I just love our own Armagh Bramley apple, and the Blackberry and Thyme balsamic. They are so incredibly versatile. The new whites are exceptional products, and we are really looking forward to developing them to their full potential.

HOW DO YOU RELAX?

I love to walk my dogs, or go for a good hack on my lovely horse. A good night in a lovely restaurant with great friends.

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