Last but certainly not least, here comes Ricardo Rodrigues-Farinha, to give us his views and opinions on the world of butchery for National Butchers' Week. Providing the backbone of the team, Ricardo is usually the first one into the shop, to start setting everything up for the day. Coming from South Africa, he obviously knows a thing or two about cooking meat, especially in the great outdoors. And with the gift of the gab, our customers often walk out with more than they intended after meeting him. In his own words - 'If you are going to have a braai, what's the point of throwing just a few sausages a grill?'
It's a good point.
OK, so when did you start in butchery and how?
I was working for Food Lovers Market, a franchise store in South Africa, about seven years ago now. As the manager of retail readiness and ongoing quality of seven departments, the one department I had no knowledge about was the meat department. I slowly started getting my self-involved in the meat side in 2012. I started helping them whenever I could, getting to know the products and gaining more knowledge about meat. When I started working for Ginger Pig butchers in 2015, I began my internship and started to build knife skills and learn about butchery in depth. I then flapped my wings and moved on to Turner and George Butchery in July 2017.
Who taught you how to butcher? Or tell us about your mentor?
I have had more than a dozen butchers teaching me different skills, but if there is one person who stands out the most its Turner & George's very own John Darling-Nash. He is exceptional at what he does, and a great mentor. Everything he cuts is to precision and measured with the sharpest eye.
What do you enjoy most about butchery?
I love that I can create something with my hands and help customers enjoy the cut of meat I have made them.
Have you seen many changes in the industry along way?
Independent family butchery’s is something you don’t see any more. Generally, in a family business, you will find the kids grow up and study engineering or become doctors, and there is no one to carry on the family trade of Butchery. It’s a hard, hands on job, and not just for anyone. People are turning away from supermarkets and poor-quality meat. They have however turned to local butchers like Turner & George. This has helped to create a growth of new butchers in London.
Why should people visit their butcher?
Because your local butcher is more than just a meat cutter. Every day I'm helping customers not only to choose the right cut of good quality mean for them, but to also help give them some extra tips on how to cook it. If you're following a recipe and confused about the kind of cut to use – your butcher will know. If you are looking for good quality meat that is free range well cared for - butchers can help.
What is your favourite meat/cut/joint?
I want to show off for a dinner party, what’s a quick and easy way to do it?
I would always ask – ‘How much do you love your guests?’ Because it comes down to the amount of money you want to spend. I would recommend a different variety of steaks like bavette, onglet, rib-eye, sirloin, rump and have it carved up for your guest to try the different steaks and flavour they could never have imagined.
Do you have any secrets of the trade to share?
I would say, get to know the breeds. With every meat comes a different texture and flavour. When I tell our customers about the breeds we have in for the week, it’s not uncommon to see them very confused and worried about trying something new.
Where is the best place to eat meat in London/UK?
I am biased, as I love cooking. So, I would say if you can get a great cut of meat, do it yourself for half the price of what a restaurant would sell it to you for. It's in your kitchen that the joy and love for food should start.
What do you see for the future of butchery?
If we stick to the basics – get the meat straight from the small independent farmer, with complete transparency of the farms - I think people will follow. And there will be a bright and bigger future for butchery in the UK.
How does butchery in the UK differ from abroad?
Every country has a different quality of life and culture. You will find that cuts are called different names and will be cut differently, to relate to the food culture of that country. When I just arrived in the UK in 2014, I was asked by a customer if the chicken I was selling her a happy chicken. I was completely confused, coming from a country in South Africa where there is no mention of such a thing. I think the UK’s standards are an example that the rest of the world can learn from.
Are you fan of offal?
I’m afraid I’m not; some people might find it a delicacy and healthy too but the closest I will come to offal is a steak and kidney pie!
What is the secret of a good sausage/burger?
I have found that a lot of chefs and cooks always try and make things complicated. Take a burger for example. It’s 30% cap 30% chuck, 10% brisket, 5% fat! This. That! You don’t need all that. You just need aged chuck! OK, you can add a bit of bone marrow to enhance the flavour, and just mincing it once or twice will give you the texture you need. Keep it simple in other words.
What is your favourite cut of steak and why?
It would have to be the rump! Why? Well, rump is a slow selling cut and it’s hung for a bit longer – it’s packed with flavour and the texture “if cooked med/Rare” it’s out of this world.
Should butchers be tipped for their services if they go the extra mile?
No, it’s all part of the service we provide. Because we love our jobs and we're passionate about it.
Is it better to work from whole carcass, if so, why?
Yes, you get to age the whole body and that is how you develop some wonderful flavour. Plus, it will contain less moisture. AND you also get more traceability of where the animal is from and you get to cut the meat in any way you would like. Butchers should be focusing more on big carcasses and less boxed meat.
Is there anyone on the scene who is leading the way with innovation?
Turner and George of course! I believe our values play a big role in who we are as a butchery. Cutting the animal from nose to tail and focusing on independent farmers, that pave the way to some great animals they produce. I always say to people, if you don’t believe me come and see what we all about.
In three words, sum up what it means to be a butcher?
Absolute meat lover!