Eight years after the last butcher within York’s city walls closed, Sarah Freeman meets the man bringing pork pies back to the city centre.
When Scott’s Butchers in York’s Lower Petergate closed its doors for the final time in 2008, it wasn’t just 130 years of the shop’s own history which came to an end. As the last remaining butchers in a city which had once boasted a street full of meat sellers, it also marked the end of the era for an entire industry.
However, eight years on, Appleton’s will bring traditional butchery back within the city walls when it opens a premises on Lendal later this month. Established in Ripon in 1867, the firm is best known for its handmade pork pies, which have been perfected by Anthony Sterne, who took over the business six years ago.
“We opened a shop in Wetherby which has done really well and have been looking for a site in York for a while and I think the time is right for a traditional pork butchers to return to the city,” he says. “I come from a farming family, we breed our own pigs and the shop is really an extension of that.”
The new premises was a former newsagents and its size means that while none of the sausage rolls or scotch eggs will be made on site, they will be brought in from Ripon fresh each day and baked in York.
“There is definitely a younger generation who have become accustomed to going into a shop, picking up something pre-packaged from a shelf, then scanning and paying for it without ever interacting with anyone else,” says Anthony, a former development chef at Pret-A-Manger. “However, we believe in old-fashioned customer service, we want our staff to have time to chat to our customers.”
Having studied food marketing at Newcastle University, Anthony says he first became switched on to the art of pie making during a year in Australia and he is eventually hoping to introduce traditional York Hams, for which Scott’s became known, back to the city centre.
“Rumour has it that the very first ones were smoked using wood from the ruins of York Minster, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. What I do know is that the process takes about 10 weeks. We are lucky in that my family breed the Large Whites, which have a good layer of fat needed for a York Ham.”
Anthony is now looking for food lovers to work in the shop. For more details go to appletonsbutchers.co.uk.