At Lishman’s we firmly believe that we reap what we sow. If we expect engaged butchers, charcutiers and apprentices through our door when we’re recruiting, it’s absolutely essential that we devote time to ensuring that the next generation have been inspired at an early age by enthusiastic teachers and passionate role models.
Butchery (much like farming) is very much a vocation: you either want it, or you don’t. Just like farming, there’s no half measures in butchery. There may be shortcuts and ways of fast-tracking your career these days, but in both fields – no pun intended! – it requires hard, honest graft and a single-minded determination to embrace the craft.
With this in mind, we decided to go back to basics and hook up with a few local secondary schools to run a workshop to share our love of butchery with those most likely to influence and inspire the next generation of butchers and charcutiers: the Food Tech teachers. This had been prompted by a conversation with one of our regular customers, Sue, who teaches at Harrogate Grammar. She’d been in to pick up a few bits, and we’d ended up chatting about life, careers, recruitment, the future of butchery… one thing led to another and between us we came up with the idea of running a workshop for specialist Food Technology teachers in her network.
Students who take Food Technology at GCSE are taught a wealth of practical and academic components to ensure that when they have completed the course they have a solid understanding of food science. Many will go on to a career in food, but only a minute proportion of those will currently embark on a career in butchery. One element of the Food Tech GCSE course is learning how to joint a chicken, which is arguably a lost art for many.
You don’t have to pursue a career in a kitchen to find the ability to joint a chicken an invaluable technique; it’s a key skill for any home cook wanting to keep an eye on the household budget as well as food waste. Our Food Tech teachers will have demonstrated this skill hundreds of times throughout their careers, but in the spirit of teaching a certain grandparent to suck eggs, we launched into our very own ‘butchers demo’ of how we joint a chicken. This gave our visiting teachers the opportunity to hone their knife skills, as well as collaborate on techniques to make the process easier.
We also shared with them our Fanny Craddock/ Jack Monroe approach to getting the most from a bird. We talked serious home economics and produced the following from a single chicken;
- – Chicken Cushion
- – Boned out the first chicken leg; this was then stuffed with a heavily spiced sausage and wrapped in bacon/ air dried ham
- – Boned out the second chicken leg; which we then bashed into a Chicken Schnitzel, crumbed and prepared for a Chicken Katsu
- – Carcass used for bone broth/ stock
- – Spatchcock: we also ran through spatchcocking – always a favourite during BBQ season.
Since our refurb earlier this Spring, we have placed an emphasis on empowering our customers and their families so that they understand exactly where their meat comes from, as well as how welfare, heritage and husbandry have an enormous impact on the eating quality. The phrase ‘from field to fork’ is commonplace and can be used rather glibly, but inspiring the next generation to understand this journey is critical to the future of farming and butchery.
Our Teachers’ Workshop comprised staff from various schools in the area including Ilkley Grammar, Bradford Grammar, Harrogate Grammar, and Rossett School, Harrogate. We are incredibly proud to share the story of our meat; and we genuinely love educating, collaborating and learning. Next time you’re in the shop, ask us about the meat you’re interested in: it makes our day.
We’re immensely keen to help the next generation understand that real butchery is very much a craft, and a career to aspire to. Talk to us about the food you love when you’re in the shop, and let’s keep on inspiring the next generation of butchers, charcutiers, chefs and more…