In Association with Porter Dodson
“There was a serious lack of quality butchers in the area. I felt that we could emulate what Bridport had done, but in our county town.” That vision would result in the launch of Poundbury’s Brace of Butchers in 2013. Here’s where it gets confusing, though. Those words were spoken by Tom Amery. As in Tom Amery of watercress fame, a double Dorset food pioneer with fingers in both the salad and meat camps.
“We wanted to push the boundaries of what a butcher’s shop had been for the last 15 to 20 years,” explains Tom. That meant a return to traditional butcher craft, hiring two expert local cleaversmiths, and forming a strong partnership with Dorchester farmer John Hoskin, who had won a Beef Farmer of the Year award a few years previously.
“John had his herds right next to the hill fort of Maiden Castle, which had been a farming location for 5,000 years,” explains Tom. “It just felt right. Dorchester was formed on the basis of Maiden Castle.”
Premises were secured in Poundbury on the site where John had once grazed his cattle. “Serendipity,” according to Tom. So far, the landlord has been supportive. “Prince Charles has visited, and congratulated us on winning the Newcomer of the Year at the Farm Shop and Deli Awards,” reveals Tom. “He’d always wanted a butchers at Poundbury.”
Add on a 2015 Butchers Shop of the Year, and a 2016 Taste of Dorset Award, and you get the impression the shop is doing something right. The secret, according to Tom, is a team who have followed a “true apprenticeship” learning the traditional skills to break down a whole carcass into the cuts others can’t reach. 64 cuts and counting to be precise. More recently, Weymouth restaurant Mark Vaughan has come in to provide consultancy on product and recipe development, particularly the preparation of oven-ready cuts. Other initiatives have kept the customers coming, such as the Saturday Lamb classes with demonstrations on how to roll, joint and fashion a crown of lamb fit for a future king.
The relationship with Dorset Food and Drink has been significant for Brace of Butchers’ rapid rise, Tom recognises. “As you start off a business, you need that support and assistance. As you develop, you become a champion of the start-ups. Everyone starts at the bottom and as you work your way through you need to remember that there are new businesses that are coming behind us that are pushing us on,” he says.
Brace of Butchers