Sunday World exclusive - Roisin Hogan interview

EntertainmentBy Kevin Palmer
Roisin Hogan talks to the Sunday World
Roisin Hogan talks to the Sunday World

Walking away from a lucrative career as a Dublin accountant to chase a dream of becoming a culinary pioneer was a gamble Roisin Hogan believed she had to take – and now she is on her way to turning her fantasy into reality.

As Roisin lit up our TV screens as the shining star of the UK version of The Apprentice last year, many suspected she was on course to follow in the footsteps of the show’s previous Irish winner Dr Leah Totton by claiming the £250,000 top prize up for grabs.

In the end, Hogan’s bid to bring low carbohydrate noodles to the mass market was not considered to be the tastiest business option for millionaire businessman and Apprentice decision maker Lord Alan Sugar to pursue and she was given her marching orders in the final week of the show.

The dismantling of Roisin’s business plan could have encouraged her to return to the anonymity of her successful accountancy career, yet as this resolute young woman showed enough business acumen in his appearances on The Apprentice to confirm she has what it takes to succeed in any given task.

With her bruised ego swiftly healed, Hogan returned home to set about proving Sugar wrong and making a success of her Nudels by Roisin low-fat convenience food dishes (below), which are set to be launched in Ireland later this year.

After securing a partnership deal with Nature’s Best that will be vital to distribution of the product and with her range of noodles are currently in the final stages of testing before their release, this is a business ready to take off and Roisin happy to use her new-found fame to be the face of the project.

“I did a lot of soul searching before I went onto The Apprentice and I decided that while I might regret doing it, I’d regret not doing it even more,” Roisin tells us, in an exclusive Sunday World interview.

“My husband wasn’t sure about the idea at first, but we sat down and crunched the numbers to see if we could make it work and in the end, he said he would support me and we should give it a shot.

“It was a big risk to take because I am the original nerdy accountant and I was doing really well at Ernst & Young, so there was no reason for me to leave. It was a safe career path in a really lucrative and secure job, but I wanted something else.

“I gave up smoking for New Year 2013 and my worry was that I was going to put on weight. So I looked around to see what was available in the low calorie convenience food market and realised that there was not a satisfactory selection of meals available.

“Working 14-hour days as an accountant, I found myself eating the bad stuff in my lunch hour or when I was heading home late at night, so I did some research and found this really low carbohydrate noodle that is made of vegetable fibre.

“From there, we have developed a range of products that are really tasty and fill you up, but they are super low calorie and ultra low-carb. All meals contain less than 200 calories and have an ultra low carbohydrate content. So it’s all the indulgence of a take away meal without the guilt. It’s really simple and I’m convinced it can be successful.”

With an appearance on The Late, Late Show confirming a rise to prominence that has taken Roisin by surprise, she admits the idea of being a celebrity is not what she had in mind when she signed up to star on The Apprentice.

“I was a little naive about what I was entering into with The Apprentice,” she added. “It was a fantastic experience in so many ways, but I was not a social media type at all and suddenly it has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

“From being totally anonymous one week to having people asking to take selfies with your in the street and getting a loads of followers on Twitter, it is quite a change. You just have to take it in your stride and thankfully, people have been very nice to me so far.

“I’ve been asked me to do bikini photo-shoots and a few more strange things, but that’s not the reason I did this because my idea was always based around a plan that if I appeared on The Apprentice, I could get my product out there one way or the other.

“There have been some great things coming out of this and a few people have said to me that I did a good job representing Irish businesswomen. It was never my intention to fulfil that role, but I’d feel very proud if people feel I was a good example for women in this country.

“It’s not easy to launch a product like this on your own, but I’m passionate about Nudels by Roisin and firmly believe we have something that can be successful, even if Lord Sugar and his people on The Apprentice did not agree with me. My aim is to try and prove this can work and I’m loving the challenge.

“The Apprentice has given me the platform to do interviews about my product, to go on the Late, Late Show and to appear in the Sunday World, so it was certainly well worth it. I’ve just got to enjoy the ride and see where it takes me.”

While many of us may have been tempted to start a second career, only a few would be brave enough to go for it and yet you get the impression that this is one girl who is destined to be successful in anything she does.