Henderson Wholesale has purchased kitchen facilities and created 14 new jobs, including SPAR NI’s first in-house Head Chef, in a £500,000 investment.

Chef Carl Johannesson, who has over 20 years’ experience including Executive Chef at the James Street South Group, leads the team of cooks who have designed and developed a new range of products that completely redefine the current retail offering of homemade meals.

The restaurant quality products under new own brand ‘The Chef’, are handmade in small batches using quality ingredients, and are the first to come out of the new kitchen in Randalstown.

The range is a collaboration between Henderson’s Wholesale and Foodservice operations, using local suppliers K&G McAtamney, Bradmount Foods, Elmore Fish Ltd., Big Pot Co. and Daily Bake.

Neal Kelly, Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Group, which owns the SPAR, EUROSPAR and VIVO brands in Northern Ireland says the products are enhancing their tonight’s tea offering and the Group’s Famous for Fresh strategy; “For over 120 years we have been supplying food to the convenience sector, sourcing as much as we can locally. We have continued to invest significantly in ranges which bring out the best local food producers Northern Ireland has to offer.

“The Chef is a range which is pushing new boundaries for us; producing chef-standard meals of our own using top quality ingredients, available to pick up in store.”

The Chef consists of 35 mains and sides which includes family favourites such as beef Bolognese, fish pie and lasagne alongside world flavours such as risotto and stroganoff, curries and chowders, with added professional finesse.

Sides include cauliflower cheese, roast butternut squash with feta and honey, and garlic mushrooms.

Mr Kelly continued; “Combining both our consumer and market knowledge, we have developed products with Chef Carl which can be bought when there is a need for a home cooked meal without the time it takes to cook from scratch, or even a midweek treat.

“Some of the products are those which shoppers may not expect to find in our stores but which we know will be incredibly popular.”

Head Chef Carl Johannesson added; “It is an exciting time to bring my 20 years of restaurant cooking experience to SPAR NI’s kitchen and to create both global and local dishes using local ingredients, on a retail scale.

“My team and I will be cooking wholesome food for hundreds of shoppers to enjoy every day without compromising on quality and flavour, that I would happily serve in a restaurant. We’re confident to be bringing this level of quality food to the shelves of local stores and can’t wait for local shoppers to enjoy it.”

The Chef range is available now at selected EUROSPAR Community Supermarkets across Northern Ireland with a view for further roll out in the coming months.

For more information and all participating stores, visit eurosparni.co.uk/thechef.