Oonagh Simms’ love affair with marshmallows began in Paris – and now she’s taking her almost-too-good-to-be-true delicious delights from her Yorkshire kitchen to conquer the world!
Hello Yorkshire Pudders! We’re starting 2015 as we mean to go on… with fantastic content, bags of energy and loads of interesting food and drink stuff. Yes, we’re a bit slow off the mark, but we’re off nevertheless.
Let me introduce you to our first blog post of the year, and it’s all about something rather scrummy – posh marshmallows!
This concept is taking the sweet tooth world by storm, and here in Yorkshire we have our very own marshmallow dynamo, who hasn’t looked back after entering the land of luscious treats.
In our exclusive Q&A, we catch up with Oonagh Simms, gourmet marshmallow pioneer and founder of The Marshmallowist, who has taken her creations from her Rawdon kitchen table to the likes of Harvey Nichols and countless delis across the UK.
Congrats lass! Now let’s find out more:
YP: How did you get into marshmallows, of all things?!
OS: After finishing school I moved to Paris to train as a chocolatière and pâtissière. In the Parisian food markets and sweet shops, the marshmallows would be sold in long strips or ropes in beautiful flavours – not just the typical pink and white coloured puffs that we had in England. You could even have small pieces of mallow cut from the long strip using special icing sugar-dipped scissors to take home in a stripy paper bag. Yum!
YP: What gave you the idea?
OS: The French would buy marshmallows flavoured with fresh fruit as gifts or as a special treat. I also used them a lot in my recipes in France, for example the famous ‘Gateux Royale’. After seeing how the French celebrated the marshmallow, I decided I wanted to give the sweet a unique London edge and create my own range of gourmet marshmallows, incorporating fresh fruits and a grown-up twist with alcohol.
YP: How did the business begin to develop and grow?
OS: The business started as a home kitchen set-up, then I secured a dedicated market stall on Portobello Road. Word of mouth spread and social media took off, with notable shout-outs from fellow foodies and chefs including Gizzi Erskine and Donal Skehan. Then came the press features, including Stylist, Vogue, Metro and TV appearances on The One Show, The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Paul Hollywood’s Pies & Puds. Through this, the marshmallows gained exposure through stockists including Harvey Nichols and independent delis.
YP: Tell us about the business now.
OS: The focus for the year ahead is to continue doing what I’m doing and continue to be regarded as the best in the business for marshmallows. Every time someone compliments the product or even the branding it makes all the hard work so worth it.
YP: What do you love about it?
OS: I love going on flavour adventures – thinking of my favourite tastes and creating new combinations of flavours that are slightly unusual. I also love watching people trying the marshmallows for the first time and being surprised at how different they are to what they were expecting
YP: Gourmet marshmallows sound delicious! Tell us about them and how they’re made.
OS: People often stand a little agog at the flavours in the range and the fact that they’re gluten, dairy, egg white AND fat-free, with this notion that they’re too good to be true. The range offers a selection of grown-up flavours, with a French soufflé-like texture and a signature London edge. They are made using only the finest of whole fruit purées and essential oils, and contain no additives or preservatives. Flavours include: Raspberry & Champagne, Blueberry & Gin, Mango & Passion Fruit, Passion Fruit & Ginger, Strawberry & Basil and Coconut. The craft behind mallow-making means each batch takes over three days to perfect: they are whipped, hand cut, left to set at the perfect temperature and then individually turned to ensure perfection. My favourite flavour is Passion Fruit & Ginger – the fiery ginger is a nice surprise at the end of the zesty passion fruit.
YP: What’s in store for the future?
OS: I’m writing a book at the moment, which is due to be published very soon, and looking forward to getting stuck into lots of projects and collaborations.
Thank you for this fascinating insight Oonagh. We’re ordering right now!