A Masterclass with Phill Rickett the butcher BIODYNAMIC/ ORGANIC in Maltby Street London

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“Because the likes of Hophurst, Perry Court, Montague, Ladymead, Gill Wing, Hungary Lane et al, concentrate on still somewhat overlooked, natural and traditional farming methods, we often find ourselves focusing our attentions on their activities, animals and agricultural practices to redress the balance.

But it’s fair to say that none of this quality in farming and husbandry would bear itself out in our counter without a commensurate excellence in butchery. And this is where Phill Rickett comes in. Since Jacobs Ladder Farms first aired its block in June 2010, Phill has been the man who’s unstintingly responsible for all our bladesmanship.

With over 35 years experience in the trade (and only 21 this year !?!) Phill has learnt his craft across a great array of small and large scale businesses in London and the South East of England. Phill is, in our humble opinion, the best butcher in London.

When pressed to give the history and training behind the prodigious skills he adopts each week for us, Phill remains bashfully reticent. But behind the work of what many can assume is an all too easy, repetitive task, Phill asserts that what makes a good butcher is the degree to which you care about your work.

And care he does. About all aspects – the provenance, the husbandry, the slaughter – a fact which many can exclude from the sentiments of a butcher, when in fact, they’re in a position to know and feel more passionately about the treatment of the animals that come to greet them than any other.

And when it comes to customers’ dogs and their bones … well, come and visit us to see the response!

But more besides, Phill’s respect for our animals is illustrated in his presentation of their meat.

A professional of the trade makes a choice to work for speed or to take pride, time and do honour to the animal that gives us our weekly food. And Phill’s immaculate, precise and delightful butchery is the epitome of this latter principal.

We couldn’t be more ecstatic to have his enviable craftsmanship at our side. And we hope to have him with us for many more years. – as long as that leg chain will just hold …”

From Jacob’s Ladder/ http://www.jacobsladderfarms.co.uk/

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When l met Phill Rickett, what became apparent very quickly was his immense passion for his craft but not only that, it was his immense kind heart that is so warming to everyone.

It is of utmost importance to respect the animals life and care for them with love. The world will not convert to being vegetarians overnight so the work that Phill and the biodynamic and organic farms do is of utmost importance as in this industry so much suffering is being caused by not regarding the animals needs, mistreatment and lack of care and consideration.

As a Japanese chef I spend all my time with the utmost attention on the whole process of  preparing, cooking, fishing and fish techniques, growing and preparing vegetables and other food matters, handling everything I do to the highest levels possible and most importantly with respect and consideration.

I usually do not work a lot with meat and I wanted to try and find someone that deals with meat with the same kind of awareness about there work but with meat. I went to visit Phill Rickett in Maltby Street Market near London Bridge London to find out more about his work and the biodynamic and organic basic principles and approaches used on there cattle farms.

I was also watching Phill carefully taking apart an entire animal (beef), I found the process completely fascinating and very familiar to how japanese very logically and carefully work with any produce. This level of perfection is accumulated from years of dedication and a passionate relationship to the animals . Phill was moving very much like a Japanese chef does when dealing with fish. I have never seen such a precise and particular butchery technique from a western person before.

He works with the Organic and Biodynamic meats only and has developed his own unique butchery style based on over 35 years of experience. These are the 3 farms Phill gets his meat from. They are all farms producing vegetables and other products as well. The pork and lamb is organic. ALL the beef he uses is biodynamic. The production is very small scale and is also seasonally respected. Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 21.04.15 Montague Farm specialising in organic and biodynamic meat in Sussex / http://www.jacobsladderfarms.co.uk  Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 21.06.10 Colin Godmans Farm specialising in organic meat, in East Sussex/ http://www.colingodmans.co.uk/ Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 21.08.17

 Perry Court Farm specialising in Biodynamic meat in Kent very important the horns of the cows a not cut / http://www.agbrockman.co.uk/

Phill startet to train as a butcher at the age of 14 were he had his first saturday job at one of the biggest butcher company’s in England by the name of DEWHURST. They had butcher shops in every town. They were very well known back in those days. The butchery standards then were not as evolved as they are now. Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 20.13.52 Local butchers, Dewhursts were part of a national chain but their shops were placed in local communities and on many high streets. This branch pictured in the 1940s was in Wellington Street in Stockton Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 20.18.28

Dewhurst, originally founded by the Vestey family. It was the first chain of butchers to introduce glass windows to protect the meat on sale and during the 1970s had 1,400 shops in Britain. But it fell on hard times during the 1980s as supermarkets increasingly took control of the fresh meat market.
The Vestey family’s British companies ran into trouble in 1995 and Dewhurst was sold as part of a management buyout but struggled and eventually collapsed into administration in 2006.
When Phill finished school he had no idea what he wanted to do. He decided he will become a butcher and his father was not to pleased trying to convince him to get a “proper” job. At that time there were not many jobs available and Phill persisted for 6 weeks to find work when destiny took a turn and against his fathers advice he started his career as full time trainee butcher in Biggin Hill Kent at the age of 16.
Phill became very quickly very skiled so he was happy with his choice of profession. He now has been a butcher for 37 years. Phill has worked in many different butchers during all this time and has exchanged and learned incredible skills from many different artisan butcher techniques.
However more then anything his passion for butchery led him to develop his own very unique style of butchery by studying the anatomy and aspects of all different kind of meats.
I have visited him today and he shows how he cuts a hole biodynamic beef into different parts sharing some of his knowledge in the videos below. Phil really enjoy’s working with his clients very closely and he customises exactly to the needs of the chef or person.
He say’s the possibilities are endless and one can always find new ways and ideas about how to do things. At Maltby Street Market, Phill mainly caters for foody’s and local resident people as well as many visitors from al over the world who come to visit London and there alternatieve Markets. I personally love working with Phill exactly because he really is very knowledgable and experienced he really listens to what I am looking for helping me to find and develop exactly what I need.
The relationship naturally leads to a shared investigation on both sides. That is the most important aspect for me in a butcher. Someone that has extensieve experience and incredible passion that matches your own and whom I can completely trust.
Phill never stops developing his knowledge and investigation even after 37 years of experience he is constantly perfecting his craft with happiness and joy. Further more Phill has the welfare of the animal at its highest priority always handeling everything he does with such regard and respect, which which is crucial to have and this is truly making the difference between an average butchers and artisan butcher like Phill.
After watching Phill work a whole dissection of half a cow today. Watching every detail really showed me not only things I never knew of but really showed me the limitless possibilities of investigations I can do now.
As a japanese chef we usually only use filet and ribeye of Wagyu. Only when I worked in japan have I ten learned about using the whole animal.
Most chefs unfortunately dont do butchery classes and also only work with the selections of meats that are designated to the menu of the restaurant only. Phill is a great teacher. He is so patient and kind. I really recommend anyone to go and visit Phil for some classes.

Phill teaches butchery classes at the Hampstead Butcher & Providore

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Phill said that the most important part of Biodynamic or organic farms he is woking with is the welfare of the animals. That is always something he was particularly concerned about. Working with the producer farms (see above all the farm links) they all take the welfare aspect of the animals to a much higher level then what the average legal requirements would be. I added a video below of at Perry Court Farm were you can see how there is a whole other consideration in regards of the welfare of the cattle.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 19.29.193 main Benefits of using a good Butcher you can trust biodynamic and organic:

1, Working specifically to your needs / providing you with the right cuts of meat ( Philli is specialist at separating all the grains not mixing them so insuring the right textures at all times even in the beef cubes for stewing)

2, Using sustainable products respecting the natural cycles of the animal and respecting the nature

3, Animal welfare Supermarkets dont age the beef because they are focused on maximum profit, Ageing will have off cuts as wastage. Animals are killed and processed right away.

In supermarkets less attention is in fiber cuts so can be tough also bad butchers will leave bits on selling you something that is called rump but is running differently in the grain then causing you chewiness.

Supermarkets like Marks and Spencer are particularly wasteful. Imagine lots of pre packed meat has a sell by date all will go in the bin. Supermarkets with a meat counter at least have a butcher in house.

Products in supermarkets can come from many places and is hard to trace if it is sustainable or what medication the animals may have had etc.

Try to find a butcher you can trust is my advice. Meat is a specialised food and needs to be treated as such. Any cheep option is not going to be ethical.

We need to be aware of this and check, unfortunately the foods we eat from the supermarket only give limited information. Example veg from Spain… but were from Spain? Almeria most likely which is the biggest artificial greenhouse in the world.

You can find  Phill in The Maltby Street Market  ~ ARCH 104 Druid Street, which is every Saturday – market closes at 2pm. He is the most nicest person and always willing to help. I have never seen Phill not smile – he is a butcher with a huge heart.

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MASTERCLASS

WITH PHILL RICKETT

IMG_1899 IMG_1902 IMG_1904 This is a master class in cutting the the biodynamic beef: 1, Goose skirt 2, Suet 3, Thick skirt 4, Filet 5, Rump and loin 6, Boned out the rump 7, Bone/ Sirloin 8, Sirloin 9, Leg: Top rump, top side, hip bone, silverside

Sorry about the sound on some of the videos. My I-phone was full and I had to use a very old camera and accidentally had my finger on the mic at the beginning. I hope you can hear ok. Below are Phill’s biodynamic burgers all from the off cuts nicely prepared. DSCF0397 I just want to say how much respect I have for Phill. It is a big responsibility to work with so much dedication. I am always very aware of the animals welfare and find it hard to eat them. The least that we can do is treat them with utmost respect all the way and having farms that treat there animal with natural remedies and feed them with good mother nature produce and care for them with love, not cutting there horns and showing them the least suffering when slaughtered. This is so important.

Thank you to Philli and to all the farmers that apply biodynamic principles. I will go and visit the farms mentioned above to show what happens on the farms and what it means to be biodynamic very soon.

In Japan the love for the Wagyu cow is very deep, they even have ceremony’s to pray for the slaughtered animals. They are prayed for on a regular basis. This level of deep gratitude is deeply rooted in the hart of the japanese. We never see a product as a product there is a much deeper sense of relation to vegetables, fish and meat. ( I know it is not practiced at this highest level all over Japan and there are also some unethical practices too unfortunately.

I am referring only to the highest of farmers and producers that are a role model to me personally. The important thing I always want to transmite is the respect and the specialist feeling that the greatest chefs and producers have shown me that I have met and worked with. Having awareness and love is the most crucial element that makes the difference between a normal chef and a truly great one in my experience) Wagyu are extremely curious and lovely animals. It is easy to love them so much. DSCF7920 I am not saying everyone in Japan has that level of feeling however this is what has been transmitted to me in my training and I have been witness of in Kyoto.

I believe this is the true way and right relationship that we as humans should have toward our animals we consume and vegetales as well as our fish. When you treat these things only as a profit making product then you will come to the kind of situations of making a specie become extinct, sick and wastefulness will also be a result. We have to respect the natures cycle.

Sustainability means respecting natures cycle. We have to work seasonally. In japan seasons are not 4 seasons but change constantly within the 4 seasons. You will have early spring mid and end but there are all the transitioning stages as well. We are now talking of a very high state of awareness and commitment as well as experience from the chef that is fully moving with the seasons as they chance.

I will write about this in a separate article as this is a very natural subject however it needs to be spoken about as to how this can be and how it works. I want to thank Phill for his patience and I want to apologise for my limited writing skills and film editing. This is my first time making a film. I hope you can benefit from this information. Phill uses a traditional butchers block. I really liked it as it is heavy does not move around and he taked a layer of the wood every time he finishes his work. DSCF0394 DSCF0395 DSCF0396

Thank you to Philli Ana and Theresa as well as the Farms: Montague Farm,Colin Godmans Farm and Perry Court Farm.

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