14th August 2017
Founder: Marisol Giardina
What do you get when you cross Italian heritage, Venezuelan origins, and Northern Irish ingredients?
The answer is Madexquisite, Marisol Giardina’s artisan sauces and antipasti business, based just outside Belfast in Whiteabbey.
From Peperoni to Pesto Rosso, Marisol’s inspiration comes from her family heritage. Born in Venezuela, she grew up cooking in Italy with her grandmother; and Granny’s recipes still make up the base of the Madexquisite product line today, which reflects Marisol’s passion for wholesome local food, free from additives and preservatives.
Marisol only considered turning her passion into a business when she had lived for 15 years in Northern Ireland, where she moved with her husband and young son in 1999. While her produce is available at local fairs and farmers’ markets, it’s still a family affair: her son makes sure to tell customers that, although he may sometimes be the salesman, “the magic comes from my mum”.
Madexquisite’s magic recently caught the eye of Invest Northern Ireland, who awarded Marisol an Innovation Voucher worth £5000. She used the award to work with CAFRE (College of Agricultural Food and Rural Enterprise), creating labels with full nutritional information, and shifting her products’ shelf life from seven days to three months and refining the processes by which she sources her local ingredients.
This local element is crucial to Madexquisite’s next steps: selling to shops in wholesale quantities. So far, preparing for this has involved scaling up recipes and using natural sugar with the help of a mentor from Belfast Metropolitan College.
In Marisol’s words, “the biggest challenge about running the business has been getting into the food industry”. But despite all the hoops there are to jump through, local shops are very interested in the fact that Madexquisite can provide authentic Italian produce without the need to import.
It’s not only local shops that Marisol plans to help through her business: she is also keen to assist people in her community: “There are so many people unemployed who can make a contribution to society – and I can help them”. Although Madexquisite is small at the moment, Marisol plans to grow the business into a socially beneficial employer, in keeping with the values of family togetherness at its heart.