We caught up with the lovely Finn Ni Fhaolain, Author of cookbook ‘Finn’s World’, Blogger at https://www.saltwaterstories.me/ and soon to be – Owner of Donegal’s first fully Gluten Free Bakery ‘Milish’ in the surfing mecca of Bundoran, South Donegal.
Why did you decide to open your own bakery?
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease a few years ago and wrote my gluten free cookbook ‘Finn’s World’ where my desire to open my own bakery first came about. I also noticed while travelling around countries like Portugal and France the variety and quality of gluten free baked goods compared to Ireland. A lot of gluten free products on the shelves in our supermarkets are pre packaged and have a massive amount of sugar and unnecessary additives in them. I want to demonstrate through ‘Milish’ that gluten free products do not have to be this way. You also can’t beat the texture of freshly baked bread or the aroma of scones fresh out of the oven.
What have been the challenges to getting open for business?
I’ve been in business without a premises for a few years so for me the biggest hurdle is just getting the location fitted out and open. I’m very lucky that Bundoran has a great community of tradesmen, so I’m confident the place is going to look fab when we open. I was originally concerned about taking on my first staff but am delighted with the team that ‘Milish’ will be starting with.
You’ve been busy working on recipes and planning the interiors. What can people expect from the moment they walk into Milish?
I’ve been so inspired by the classic bakeries and patisseries in France and the beachy cafes of Byron Bay in Australia. I also wanted to show that sustainable can be beautiful so customers can expect a pared back but cosy space with lots of reclaimed wood, local art and photography. I love pastels so there will be a lot of warm creams and greys with a pop of teal here and there as well as shelves of cookbooks everywhere!
Have any businesses in Ireland inspired your vision for Milish?
My god, so many! The Happy Pear in Greystones and the Fumbally in Dublin. I think both places showcase beautiful natural food. I love the interiors of ‘Shells Cafe’ in Sligo and ‘Sweet Beat Cafe’ are doing amazing plant based food. Carolanne Rushe of ‘Sweet Beat Cafe’ has a huge focus on sustainable business practices which we will also be focusing on.
Tell us about your food and beverage offering!
Breakfast – Creamy Porridge (gluten free & vegan varieties). Chia puddings with fresh fruit/ homemade probiotic coconut yogurt & gluten free granola.
Small treats – biscotti, madeleines, macaroons, maple pecan protein cookies and oat cookies.
Bigger treats – Chocolate fudge cake, lime & poppy seed and apple pies, as well as various signature cakes from ‘Finn’s World’ – coconut banana cake (gf/df) and raspberry & almond upside down cake – and weekly specialty cakes.
Savoury – for those looking for a quick snack or a light lunch we will have a changing menu of savoury items. My stepdad is from Brazil and I’m really excited to share some of his family recipes for cheesy breads and dumplings!
We will also be providing wholesale bread and cakes to other businesses.
Are you using any Donegal producers on your menu?
We will be using Patton Eggs – local and free range, and Camp View Farm (Ballyshannon) will be supplying us with some of our vegetables and milk. We are keen to hear from more Donegal producers especially those that provide their products in non-plastic packaging.
What do you think is missing from the Donegal café scene?
I think there is an amazing food culture in Donegal. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the produce up here. What we hope to add and that we feel has been missing; is that slightly healthier, more sustainable option, where you’re still treating yourself but what you’re consuming is good for you and good for the planet too!
Describe Milish in three words.
Playful. Delicious. Unique.