A year ago Amanda and Allan Goodwill launched their Fabulous Fish and Meat Co. Catherine Scott meets them.
When Allan Goodwill was given half a pig he decided to have a go at making his own sausages and bacon.
It was a the start of a hobby that would become a business for Al and his wife Amanda – and see him give up his day job as an engineer making underwater robots.
Now their Fabulous Meat and Fish Company supplies some of Yorkshire top restaurants and farmshops with their rare breed charcuterie and smoked salmon.
“I’d travelled a lot, especially during my time in the RAF and I loved food and picked up influences wherever I went,” explains Al.
“When were given the half pig I said to Amanda ‘why don’t we have a go at making our own sausages and bacon?’”
They decided to share some of it with family, friends and work colleagues, who liked it so much they put in orders for more.
Al’s love of quality produce came from growing up in the North York Moors and working on a farm while he was at school.
“It was a really old-fashioned farm but it gave me a real love and understanding of great produce which was reared with love.”
As Al experimented with new products, even making a smoker out of Amanda’s old school trunk and cooking black pudding in the galley kitchen of their then home in York, demand soon became too much for Amanda alone.
“We had just run out of space at home,” says Amanda. “We were hanging the hams to air dry in the shed, but even then we needed more space.”
So when a friend offered them a disused dog kennel at Welburn near Castle Howard they jumped at the chance to have more space.
“It was in a real state and we had so much work to do as we were going from being a kitchen table business to one supplying on a commercial basis.”
With support from Ryedale council they converted the dog kennel into an area where they could prepare the raw meat and one which houses two smokers, and where the meat and sausages could be hung to air-dry over time.
The couple are passionate about quality free range produce and are very careful about the suppliers that they use.
It is clear when seeing them work just how much reverence they give to their produce, and they expect the same high standards and care from their suppliers.
“All our meat supplies come from local free range farms. I would rather pay a bit more to know just how much care goes into the meat, duck and fish,” says Al.
Even the spices are from family- run Yorkshire mill Laycocks.
“Our smoked salmon comes from an award-winning fishery in Scotland, Wester Ross Fisheries. We really care that are products are local and the best and that all animals must have the highest standards of care and welfare.”
It was while spending time with the Sioux Indians that Al learnt how to cure and smoke the salmon.
History is nearly as important to Al as provenance.
The couple’s Elizabethan black pudding is made using a recipe which Al discovered at the York Castle Museum.
He spends time telling me about his salting process which includes a brief history of why Roman soldiers were paid in ‘dirty’ salt as opposed to ordinary salt.
As word spread about the quality of the Goodwills’ charcuterie and smoked salmon, they struggled to keep pace with demand.
“I was doing 100 hour weeks and Al was coming in before he went to work and after he left work. It was just getting too much.”
And so Al took the decision to leave his day job and work full time at the Fabulous Meat and Fish Company, following his passion.
They now boast some of Yorkshire best restaurants as customers.
Michelin-starred Andrew Pern is one of their highest profile customers and uses their products at The Star Inn Harome and Mr P’s in York. They also supply The Pheasant Hotel in Harome and the Worsley Arms. Their products can also be found in a number of farm shops and dellis around York as well as food and farmers markets including Malton, Helmsley and Ampleforth
As demand increases, the Goodwills would like to have a retail shop where they could show case their produce.
“We would also like to hold workshops to pass on our knowledge to others. We both think this is really important,” says Amanda.
They now have two smokers and seem to be able to smoke pretty much anything from eel to duck.
“We’ve even smoked our own paprika and have been asked if we can smoke butter,” says Amanda, who is also chief taster.
Al loves to experiment and admits that not all his trials are as good as others, but Amanda says she is the first to let him know.
“We do work very well together although I think it helps that we have our own areas of the business,” she says.
And the couple, who also have a business partner, have just heard that they been invited to enter the British Charcuterie awards this summer.
Amanda says social media has helped to grow the business especially amongst chefs.
“We found that it is a really good way to get our message across,” says Amanda. “It is also really nice doing the artisan food markets as it is a great place to get feedback and ideas.”
www.thefabulousmeat andfishcompany.com, or follow them on Twitter.