From their commercial kitchen in the heart of Worcestershire, partners Simon and Carole worked tirelessly to create the fantastic Big Horn Biltong. With a desire to create something truly exceptional, they sourced the highest quality beef, discovered the best method and created the most delicious flavours. Meet Simon and Carole!
1. Hi. First things first: where do you hail from?
Carole: I was born in a little town called Banbridge in the County Down, Northern Ireland and that is were I spent my early years. I lived in Canada for several years before moving back to the UK to settle in Herefordshire. We now live in the lovely countryside of Worcestershire in a village called Flyford Flavell.
Simon: I’m a country boy at heart and I’ve spent the majority of my life in and around other parts of Worcestershire.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Carole: I had dreams! – A singer then a writer. I loved reading and my early years were filled with Enid Blyton,Secret Seven and Famous Five. I tried my hand at many short stories, which got no further than my bedside (thank goodness)
Simon: A spaceman of course! – until the age of about 14 then I wanted to join the army and serve in the Royal Artillery,
3. How did you earn your living before making Biltong?
Carole: I worked at Action for Children in the social care team in Herefordshire and then I moved to the mental health team in Gloucestershire where I was lucky to have spent the last 4yrs working with young people up to 18yrs.
Simon: For one reason and another my early career plans didn’t quite work out and so I worked in Recruitmentand HR Services for the best part of 20 years before leaving the corporate lifestyle behind to set up our business together
4. When, where and how did you learn to cure meat?
Carole: I’ve always loved quality cured meats and have developed a love of biltong through South African friends –it was love at first taste. We simply wanted to create a great tasting biltong ourselves and through trial and error we learnt the hard way!
Simon: Having travelled extensively in my previous corporate career, I gained lots of new taste experiences along the way. This only served to fuel my passion for cured meats and wanting to set up a healthy snacking company, Biltong was simply the way forward!
5. Which flavour of Biltong is your favourite?
Carole: My personal favourite is our signature Garlic and Coriander. The garlic gives the beef great flavour then the citrus tones of coriander come through complimenting the flavour of the biltong.
Simon: Has to be our Cracked Black Pepper for me – I love the slightly salty taste combined with the rough and ready heat of the cracked pepper
6. Do you have any designs on making any other products?
Carole: We are constantly coming up with new ideas for healthy snacking and we have lots of exciting developments in the pipeline. As lovers of good food, great flavours are important to us and we strongly believe you don’t need to scrimp on flavours to make a snack healthy. Watch this space!
Simon: We sure do, all the time! – We just have to be careful to temper these with a business head. To be honest,co-branding Biltong with our partners has worked so well, we’d love to do more of it!
7. What do British-based biltong makers still need to learn from the South Africans?
Carole: How to play cricket and rugby ☺ In all seriousness though our SA friends are constantly suggesting new tips, tricks and ideas (as long as they get to taste it first!)
Simon: There are some really good British based Biltong companies out there. As a British culture we have lots more to learn from SA regarding how, when & why to eat this delicious product of ours!
8. And do you think we can make it better?
Carole: Coming from Northern Ireland, I need to practice the art of diplomacy! I think we make it different. To make the best you need to start with quality ingredients. We decided to use the best grass fed beef we could find and have been fortunate to have found a supplier of Longhorn Cattle less than 17miles from our door, Martins Meats. We also produce our own recipes. Excellent beef and the best spices make our biltong the best for those people who care about what they eat and where it comes from.
Simon: We are always striving for perfection but consistency is always the key…. However, its absolutely not a competition of who’s is best! – There are plenty of people in this country with very differing taste buds and each Biltong company has to find their niche and not simply copy one another. We are very proud to create our own flavours and hopefully we gather a following because of that.
9. Rumour has it that Biltong is the ‘new kale’ and is great for you, is this true?
Carole: Our Biltong is free from all artificial additives and a great source of natural protein. We are all being urged to cut sugar from our diets and more and more people are looking at Paleo and Ketogenic diets, which have major health benefits. So yes, I do think this is true and what’s more, our Paleo certified Biltong tastes great with kale crisps!
Simon: We’ve certainly seen a big explosion in healthy snacking over the last few years and I’m sure that all Biltong companies have seen this. However, it’s not just about the protein percentage! As a customer we believe there are some questionable animal husbandry practices about Red Tractor beef in the UK. So, in order to give our customers a choice we decided to only use grass fed beef, no antibiotics or growth hormones, from this we researched the UK landscape and created a brand that ensured all of our products are not only gluten free, but perfect for coeliacs and diabetics. We even created a number of sugar free versions and became Certified paleo! So all in all, I guess we really are part of the new wave of wholefood companies providing consumers with the ‘new kale’.
10. Finally, you’ve been told that for exceptional medical reasons you must turn vegan tomorrow – what’s on the menu for dinner tonight?
Carole: Simon makes THE BEST Mushroom Risotto followed by a Bbq’d Tomahawk steak (I’m not sharing it!)
Simon: Bbq’d lobster, Carole’s chicken & chorizo dish, our Cracked Black Pepper Biltong and a big bottle of Chablis Grand Cru!
You can get your hands on this fantastic biltong via our market stalls at Borough Market, Herne Hill and King’s Cross, as well as from our online shop – www.cannonandcannon.com/shop