Passion for plant-based foods turned into thriving business

 

Hannah Mellsop, of Real Rad Food
Hannah Mellsop, of Real Rad Food

Raw baking enthusiast Hannah Mellsop, of Real Rad Food, is excited about sharing her knowledge when she visits Dunedin next month. She tells Rebecca Fox about her food journey.

Hannah Mellsop found her passion for plant-based foods at university and has never looked back.

Back then she was a geography student creating healthy sweet treats at the cafe she worked at and at home.

Posting pictures on Instagram of her creations, Mellsop began to get a following.

She followed lots of conversations on social media about healthy eating and began to see the benefits of eating that way herself.

''I like the way it made me feel. My mental clarity is better.''

She loved discovering simple, easy to make food, especially sweet treats.

''I feel in love with raw baking.''

When she finished her degree, Mellsop made the big decision to turn her love into a business.

''I was 21. I went into it totally blind - I had no idea what I was up to. I learned as I went and reached out to family, who were accountants.''

The name for her business - Real Rad Food - came from her quest to make real whole and healthy food, while ''rad'' was a catchy word she was using at the time.

She developed a process where she soaked cashews, blended them with coconut cream and flavourings and rolled them into balls or created a slice then froze the products.

Mellsop created nine standard flavours along with limited-edition flavours based on nostalgia - usually healthier alternatives to childhood favourites.

Favourite flavours are Black Forest, Salted Caramel Snickers and Cookie Dough.

 

The idea was to sell the balls and slices direct to restaurants and cafes and door-to-door to individuals through a website.

''I found a commercial kitchen and got started. I learnt a lot. It's definitely been a hard and fast learning curve. I've been failing and learning quickly.''

The popularity of plant-based food and raw food has resulted in the business growing 200% in the past year.

''They're expensive products to make but as we've grown we've been able to buy in bulk so there has been savings there - we're ordering everything in 20kg bags now. It was hard to begin with when we were going to Binn Inn to get our cashews.''

So much growth meant the business was struggling to keep up with demand.

''We're constantly sold out.''

On the positive side it means Mellsop is finally able to move the business into its own space.

''It'll give us the opportunity to grow further.''

While it means Mellsop, who has a team of three, spends more time on administration these days, product development is still her baby so she gets back into the kitchen to play around with flavours.

Once they have settled in to the new premises in Papamoa, she will look at exploring different products they could make.

She has chosen to make only two products to date as they are popular and it allows her to be more efficient.

The business has attracted a loyal clientele, at least 40 clients having followed her work for the past five years.

Mellsop is coming to Dunedin for the Home and Living Show to give a raw cake demonstrations.

She plans to share how creating healthy sweets need not be intimidating.

''They can be easy and quick. As they're frozen they last a long time which, given the ingredients are a bit pricey, is a good thing.''

To see 

The Home and Living Show is a partnership between Dunedin Venues and the Otago Daily Times.

Dates are:
November 2:   9.30am-5pm
November 3:  9.30am-4pm 

 

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