Once I had escaped the hustle and bustle of York and ventured out onto the open roads to Helmsley, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am to live in such a breathtakingly beautiful county. The quaint town of Hemsley is nestled on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and is home to Amanda and Allan Goodwill’s butchery business, The Fabulous Meat and Fish Company. The little red shop frontage with Boot the welly dog sat outside epitomises the tradition and community of rural Yorkshire living, and Amanda and Allan glow with pride as they welcome me into their shop and their way of life. As I am treated to an array of mouth-watering dried meats and hear the story of the Fab Meat and Fish Company, I begin to truly understand their passion for quality and their love for the local community that lies at the heart of their business.
Where did it all begin for the Fab Meat and Fish Company?
It was entirely by accident! Amanda and I have been life-long foodies and one day we decided to buy half a pig off a local farmer, we made some bacon and sausage which I then sold to some people that I worked with, and it just grew from there. The more we made, the more we sold. We pushed ourselves into creating charcuterie and setting up the smokehouse, and then last year we were approached and asked if we wanted a butcher’s shop, and here we are!
How did you learn how to butcher animals and create your own charcuterie?
Unfortunately, nobody will teach you. There are some good books about, but at the end of the day, all of your lessons are filed in a bin, and it’s an expensive learning curve! You’ve got to be passionate enough to take a pop at it. The truism of life is that if you do nothing, nothing will happen. You have a go, learn your lessons and move on, and never be afraid to pinch an idea off someone else!
What inspired you start smoking your own meat and fish?
It’s all part of the same deal really. We started making products with the original methods that go back centuries, so there is nothing clever about it. What we do is not old fashioned, it’s the way it’s been done for hundreds of years. It is a matter of buying the best meat you can get and treating it with care and patience.
Can you tell me about some of your charcuterie products?
Charcuterie refers to any preserved item but tends to refer to preserved meats. Here we are salting and drying meats by different methods. We create a range of different charcuterie products such as bresaola, speck, duck, Italian loin, pancetta, guanciale and the York hams. We do more than a dozen now and we are one of the only butchers in the country that creates duck prosciutto.
And how long does it take to dry out and preserve a charcuterie product?
Every item is different. It depends on the fat content, type of meat, the humidity and so on. The duck can take 3-4 weeks as its slim and fatty, whereas some of the pork products can take up to a year.
Do you supply local restaurants as well as selling through the shop?
We work with a few places such as The Star chain for Andrew Pern, The Pheasant at Harome, the Hovingham Inn and The Kings Head at Kirby Moorside. We get about a little bit, but we are still growing and would like to get out products out and about a lot more.
What is your favourite thing about Yorkshire?
For me, it is the understated passion for producing the best farm products in the country, if not the world. All of the farmers that supply us love what they do, their food miles are kept to an absolute minimum and the animal welfare is second to none. Some of the best lamb, beef, pork, venison and game is right here on our doorstep. How could we not love Yorkshire and what we do.
I think that there is a cultural, natural and ancient patience about rural Yorkshire life which lends itself to rearing animals of this quality. The natural patience that is built into Yorkshire people who work across such varied landscapes creates a quality that cannot be created anywhere else.
Are all of your products exclusively sourced within North Yorkshire?
For the butcher’s shop, I buy whenever I can directly from local farmers and because of that, we get the best meat in North Yorkshire. Our average food miles are between 15-20 miles and we try and buy everything as close to Helmsley as we can.
And how do you make sure that the meat that you buy is high quality?
Quality is king here and we don’t accept seconds, and because of this, our customer base is growing. We visit all of the animals and farms that we buy from and we pay a good price for our products and look after our farmers. It helps the small businesses along and this keeps the money circulating in the local economy, so we get out exactly what we put in; locally sourced, quality products created in sustainable environments by independent businesses.
When people buy from us, they support everyone from the abattoirs, to the farmers who look after and farm the countryside. We’ve won awards for the quality of the products that we create here, and all of our products are gluten-free and packaged wherever we can with environmentally friendly products such as wool-cool which keeps products cool and is a fully compostable product.
What did you do before starting up The Fab Meat and Fish Company?
Allan: I was an Engineer for fighter jets in the RAF before teaching flight control systems to British Aerospace personelle. My last job before setting up the business was working with a team who were designing the robotics for deep sea exploration.
Wow that’s incredible! Talk about one extreme to another!
Absolutely! It might explain what I love the smoker so much! We started doing this because we loved doing it, and that comes through in everything we do. If a product isn’t one hundred per cent right, there is only one place it goes… the bin.
Where do you see yourself this time next year?
We will still be here and doing this. We’ve had the Butcher’s shop for one year now and we do what we do because we love it, and because of that, we will just keep doing it until we don’t!
Allan and Amanda, 6.9.19.
I would like to thank Amanda and Allan for taking the time to share their food story and wish them the best of luck for the future!
If you would like to find out more about the Fabulous Meat and Fish Company, head over to their website: https://www.thefabulousmeatandfishcompany.com