It’s all about the pork at Yorkshire’s newest farm shop and café that opened this week just in time for the Tour de Porkshire to fly past or at least that’s how Anna Longthorp renamed it for a few minutes as first the ladies race and then the men’s race flashed through Howden.
Anna’s Happy Kitchen has taken up residence in what was once the well-visited Coastways Café to the east of the East Riding market town on the busy route that many West Riding holidaymakers take for the seaside resorts of Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough.
The new business looks certain to attract road ‘hogs’ and will offer relief to those who’ve been travelling a while in terms of saving their bacon. It’s the fulfilment of Anna Longthorp’s initial idea that came about a decade ago.
Anna’s brother, Jonathan, runs the family pig farm nearby, she has developed her own successful business, Anna’s Happy Trotters, adding value to the pigs through brand development and Anna’s Happy Kitchen is now the very public face.
“We’re known for our pigs, we love them and I’m totally passionate about them so when this came up it made sense to carry on the pig theme. This was a thriving business back in the day and I’ve had my eye on it for ten years.
“I approached the previous owners about taking it on around six years ago. It has been closed for the past two years and now that my son Richard, who is four, is at school for me the timing is just right.
“One of our biggest challenges in the pig meat world is carcase balance, making the most out of the full carcase.
“As everyone knows the pig is one of the few animals that you can eat cuts of every part, but many buyers just go for the loin and belly. We’ve done wonderful things with pulled pork using the shoulders and every part of the animal tastes great. There are many other fantastic cuts that I love.
“I’ll be overseeing everything here. I already have a great butchery team at Anna’s Happy Trotters and they are stocking the meat counter.
“We very nearly couldn’t get it in. It took eight of us to do it and re-assemble once we’d realised it wouldn’t get through in one go.
“We will have fantastic cuts of pork, bacon, ham, gammon, sausages, sausage rolls, pork pies and anything pig-possible in the meat counter.
“There will be eight sausage varieties including Porkshire Terrier that uses York Brewery’s Terrier beer and caramelised onion sausages using chutney from Bracken Hill Preserves in Elvington.
“We’ll have gluten free too and of course the main no nonsense breakfast sausage that is still the most popular of all.”
Due to its position and former popularity as a food destination Anna’s Happy Kitchen looks well set for a great start offering both take out and sit down menus including breakfasts and all manner of meals that are all pig infused.
She also counts herself fortunate to have taken on a team that shares her passion and a chef from a farming background, albeit more cattle related.
“We have a big breakfast menu and a terrific variety on our lunch menu. It shows just how much can be achieved with pork, bacon and sausage.
“We have the pork burger of the day, ribs of the day, curry of the day, pork mince lasagne, a Yorkshire (or should that again be Porkshire) pudding wrap that is pulled pork, stuffing and gravy.
“Our whole hog breakfast is a must and our pulled pork, well I can tell you that I know every time we cook a shoulder of pork it’s going to be brilliant. I have so much confidence in our end product.
“We’ve a really strong, solid team with our chef ‘Mr Unflappable’ Patrick McNeil at the helm.
“Patrick is coming up with new ideas all the time and when it comes to preparing what is ordered he’s unlike any chef I’ve ever known, being so cool, calm and collected. He’s a local man too and the rest of the team all come from around here.”
Anna’s Happy Kitchen has been thoughtfully designed featuring on one wall a lovely picture of pigs grazing.
Anna posed the question to her new team about having images of the animal customers were about to eat close by and their feelings.
“Personally, it makes no difference to me but I wanted to get the feedback from others and they all said it was important people understand and appreciate where food comes from.
“The picture to one side of the meat counter demonstrates our core values of animal husbandry and the environment.
“Our Anna’s Happy Trotters live stress free lives outdoor and free range. That’s what the picture depicts. Ultimately, pigs come into the food chain, that’s life.”
Initial response to the opening has been extremely favourable and the Howden Kitchens staff based across the road look likely to make it their firm favourite.
Anna’s social media traffic has amazed her.
“We’ve already had real traffic in the form of cars, pick-ups, vans and lorries turning in here and we have a really extensive car parking facility but our first social media post for Anna’s Happy Kitchen had 12,500 reaches.
“That’s more than anything we’ve ever had for Anna’s Happy Trotters.
“We’ve absolutely no idea as yet how many pigs we will go through per week here, so in some ways it is a case of the blind leading the blind but early indications are that it will be something like five per week.
“Putting that in perspective we sell around 150 per week through Anna’s Happy Trotters.”
Anna sang on the pig industry song Stand By Your Ham to the tune of Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man a few years ago when the pig price was in the doldrums. I’m not sure she’ll give you a rendition when you make your visit.