As part of National Butchers' Week, we decided that you should get to know some of the T&G team. The people who work hard behind the counter and down in the chillers, to deliver our aged steaks, our quality joints and a level of service that we believe, is unparalleled. You only have to wander in to see this in action and the proof of the steak and kidney pudding, often means having to wait. Especially on Saturdays! Yep, without our beloved butchers, there would be no Turner & George.
First up is John Darling-Nash, who manages our shop in EC1 and keeps everything running shipshape and watertight. A strong advocate of whole carcass butchery, John has been working hard to source and introduce breeds that are otherwise unavailable elsewhere. He also has a fine beard and looks rather fetching in a T&G leather apron.
OK, so when did you start in butchery and how?
As a Saturday boy at the age of 14. It was the butchers my old man went into every Saturday when I was growing up.
Who taught you how to butcher? Or tell us about your mentor?
David Mortimer, a 60-year-old butcher who, like me, had started at the age of 14.
What do you enjoy most about butchery?
Rolling beef. It's very therapeutic, what with the whole string tying that it involves. And I like to think that I have got my technique down to a fine art. Making sure that everything is uniform and lines up. Some of the others in the shop would say that this is down to my OCD though!
Have you seen many changes in the industry along way?
Lots of the old popular cuts seem to have disappeared from sight. People just aren't interested in them anymore. Cuts such as pork leg and lamb scrag end have more or less disappeared from shopping lists. Which is a shame because they are great cuts.
Why should people visit their butcher?
The provenance and getting to know someone who will remember you. I am quite proud of developing a close relationship with some of our customers. For some reason, in the shop, I can always recall names and what people like. Outside the shop is a different matter though!
What is your favourite meat/cut/joint?
Rump steak and rare.
I want to show off for a dinner party, what’s a quick and easy way to do it?
Slow cooked brisket…which OK, is not quick! But once you get all the prep out of the way. Browning off both the meat and vegetables, adding a good stock. some herbs and spices - just leave it in the oven to do the work. Easy!
Do you have any secrets of the trade to share?
Secrets are meant to be kept.
Where is the best place to eat meat in London/UK?
It’s a tough call but based on recent experiences it has to be a toss-up between Smokestak and Nuala.
How does butchery in the UK differ from abroad?
Cutting techniques are different but many of the principle joints remain the same.
Are you fan of offal?
I love lamb’s liver. Pan fried with some onions, pancetta, garlic and thyme. Brilliant stuff.
What is the secret of a good sausage/burger?
The meat used is very important. Sadly, both sausages and burgers are associated with cheap trim, or 'the scraps off the floor'. Which is definitely not be the case. Not with our burgers and sausages. Just use some good quality shoulder or chuck and the rest will do itself.
What is your favourite cut of steak and why?
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Rump, it has all the best flavour
Should butchers be tipped for their services if they go the extra mile!?!
No, we shouldn't as it is all part of the service. We do like free drinks though. Pint of Guinness please.
Is it better to work from whole carcass, if so, why?
It always is in my opinion. You get so much more in the way of interesting cuts and plus, none of the animal goes to waste.
In one three words, sum up what it means to be a butcher.
Slicing and dicing! (I should get that tattooed…somewhere)