Alice McIlhagger was always destined for a career as a foodie — with a grandfather who was responsible for introducing yoghurt to Northern Ireland and came up with the recipe for Ambrosia Creamed Rice.
Alice started selling at school and church craft fairs, selling jam and home-made bread and meringues. She started with strawberry jam because she lives next to a strawberry farm and she made damson jam and chutney using produce from her own garden. It’s not a particularly big garden, but it’s full of fruit and vegetables, including damsons, apples, pears and plums.
Meanwhile, Alice also forages for damsons and blackberries in the wild hedgerows near Lough Neagh.
Alice has won three Great Taste Awards for her dessert sauces — sea-salted caramel, melted chocolate sauce and coffee caramel sauce. Her raspberry and plum jam was also a finalist in the Irish Food Awards in 2016.
Even other artisan producers recognise the quality — the sea-salted caramel sauce is used to flavour artisan ice creams made by Draynes Farm in Lisburn and Glastry Farm in Kircubbin.
Made in small batches in Autumn, using home-grown raspberries and Victoria Plums. This jam is a delicious blend of dark pink raspberry and the fleshier plums, perfect with breakfast toast or as a filling for a Victoria Sponge for an afternoon tea.
Alice's own recipe Sea Salted Caramel Sauce was a great favourite with family, friends and craft fair customers so she decided to enter it into the Great Taste Awards 2015 and was delighted to receive a Gold Star Award in July 2015. This sauce later won Gold in the Irish Food Awards 2017, proving that this is a sauce worth tasting as it's now officially Irelands very best dessert sauce!