Everything but the squeal
They say that you can use a whole pig, except for the squeal. Bite wondered if this was true and thought they would test the theory, as Simon Macfarlane tells the SRA:
As Operations Director and Head of Sustainability I initiated the project with Head Chef Nik Tubbs and a little help from our support teams.
We purchased our free range pig from a local farm (less than 10 miles ‘sty to kitchen’ or ‘as the pig trots’) to our account in Newbury, Berkshire.
Then, the bit none of us had really been looking forward to – the abattoir visit. However, it was an important part of the process for us to understand and it was reassuring to see the high standards to which Laverstoke Park work.
We then liaised closely with our butcher, Nigel Fredericks, as how to butcher the pig to ensure best yield. A training day for an intrepid team of Bite employees ensured they fully understood all the different cuts and joints of meat, how best to use the alternative cuts and reduce waste to an absolute minimum.
Project Pig, as we dubbed it, has been a big success, showing our staff, clients and end customers the importance of local sourcing and nose-to-tail cooking and eating. It’s also proved to us and our clients the financial benefits of using the whole animal and working closely with suppliers. As Jenny Luyten, Bite’s Operations Manager puts it: ‘I’ve been amazed even after over 20 years in catering how versatile and enjoyable pork can be, it has surprised even me. Project Pig has educated our customers in different ways and helped Nik to understand and challenge herself in trying something different.’
Nik and our creative team of chefs have been delighting customers with dishes like smoky bacon and watercress soup, BBQ pork burgers and, wait for it… pigs head terrine. Perhaps unsurprisingly a third of customers wouldn’t try a dish labelled that way. When we called it pork terrine 70% really enjoyed it. So, perhaps there are still lessons to be learned and challenges to be overcome in terms of making offal seem less awful.
If you’d like to find out more about Project Pig you can come and see Bite MD, Nick Parker and myself present ‘Food magic – reduced cost sustainable food for an inspired workplace’ at Th!nkFM on Monday 18 June at the Royal College of Physicians. Mark Linehan, from SRA will be joining us on stage too. In true Bite style we will be provocative with our food and are busy preparing sweet and sour tails, pig sweetbreads and crisp pig’s ears amongst other things – so if you fancy a taste challenge, come along!