In kitchens across Lisburn & Castlereagh there are talented makers and bakers inventing and experimenting. 

Leading up to the Balmoral show, we went to meet a few of them and find out what inspires them and drives them. 

First up was Rosie of Rosie McNeill Cakes. She's a regular face at local markets including the monthly Inns Cross Market in Newtownbreda and the seasonal Royal Hillsborough Markets. Her tables are always laden with immaculately decorated cupcakes. 

These are cupcakes with fun twists like chocolate mint aero, lemon meringue, cookie monster and even gin & tonic  

Watching Rosie get ready to decorate her cupcakes is a joy. She's perfected how to get the consistency of frosting just right for piping. (We may have taken notes). 

When we asked her how her cupcakes were so perfectly uniform, flat and moist looking she explained how it was not luck or a good oven, but a year of perfecting the right recipe. 

“My friend and I were initially baking cupcakes for a fundraiser, but we got such great feedback we decided to sell them to the public.  

Once we decided that though we felt we really had to get the recipe right. We’d had so many dry tasting cupcakes or cupcakes that didn't last more than a day. We wanted to create a moist cupcake that would also last a lot longer.” 

With sell out market days we definitely think Rosie has the right recipe.  

But what about the pressure of baking dozens and dozens of cupcakes for a market or for this year's Balmoral Show? 

“My husband laughs as I'm always so excited about a big baking day when I might have to make hundreds of cupcakes. I just love turning a bunch of ingredients into the final cupcakes. And then taking them for my customers to try. It just makes me so happy. 

Although I always seem to time holidays just before a big event and find I'm baking till midnight. I've done it again this year.  But it's always worth it when I see my customer’s faces.” 


Just around the corner from Rosie lives Gavin McShane from the Little Popcorn Corn Shop, where he makes homemade small batch kettle corn popcorn.  

His inspiration came from movie nights in lockdown when he began experimenting with making traditional kettle corn popcorn for his family and friends. 

“All lovers of popcorn, we had been talking about making our own. I decided to buy a small kettle to develop unique recipes from some basic research. The kids loved the flavours and began sharing them with their friends. We soon had many of their parents calling with us for packs.” 

One day he decided to take 100 bags down to a local market. He sold out! The next day he took 200 bags. He sold out again.  

He soon started making more, and eventually imported equipment from America to increase production in his converted garage in the garden.  

He developed flavours like Caramel Apple, Salted Caramel and Habanero Chilli made from a local Chilli producer, Blackfire Hot Sauces. 

While Gavin loves making his popcorn, he also has a full-time corporate job.  

“I always have a question in the back of my mind about do I want to do this all the time, as it's so different to my day job, but my colleagues are so supportive. I've also been able to do charity work and raise money for causes my company is invested in.” 

“I also love doing the markets and seeing people's reactions when they try my popcorn.” 


In another home kitchen in Lisburn is Ching Ye-Yuen of Eastern Bagel 

Originally from Hong Kong she missed the flavours of home. Especially the wide range of sweet, savoury and filled bagels.  

Flavours like Matcha and Adzuki bean are so popular in Asian countries and Ching decided to try making her own bagels for the local community. 

What was the reaction of your bagels at your first market? 

“I didn't think Northern Irish people would like them, but they tried them and loved them. Their first reaction was WOW, so different and colourful.” 

Although the most popular bagel is garlic, she's won people over with her Coconut & Coffee and Marble & Chocolate bagels.

She also makes Tuna, Sweet potato, Earl Grey Tea and Matcha (a bright green tea powder with a nutty flavour used to flavour sweet treats in Japan). 

Displayed on a tray for us, you can tell how proud she is of her first ever business and that she's excited for more people to try. 

All three makers will be showcasing their creations at the Lisburn & Castlereagh Stand 48, in the NI Food & Drink Pavilion at the Balmoral Show on 15th-18th May.