Meet the producer: Black Hand Food

We work with a host of brilliant British-based cured meat producers.  Through this little Q&A session on our blog, we hope you’ll get to know them a bit better.

The hugely talented Hugo Jeffreys runs Black Hand Food from a small, but perfectly formed, unit in deepest Hackney Wick in East London.  He produces some stunning charcuterie, using Gloucester old spots from Essex.  You can also find Hugo teaching curing and butchery techniques at our Meat School.

1.     Hi Hugo. First things first: where were you born?

London.

2.     What did you want to be when you grew up?

A farmer, although after seeing a cow give birth I quickly changed my mind.

3.     How did you earn your living before becoming a charcutier?

I was a chef and baker.

4.     When, where and how did you learn to cure meat?

At home, just giving it a go really. I’ve always been a big collector of cookery books and after picking up a few books on butchery, charcuterie was an inevitable road to take.

5.     Which of your products are you most proud of?

The brawn salami. It’s a great way to use the pig’s head and, of course, tastes delicious!

6.     What’s the best cured meat product that you don’t (yet) make?

If I was Ahab, prosciutto would be my white whale. However, I’m probably never going to make them as they just take too long and I don’t have the available space. 

7.     What do British-based charcutiers still need to learn from those on the continent?

We don’t really have a tradition to follow in this country as yet, and therefore our products are still occasionally seen as a novelty. I’d like to think that in a few years British charcuterie will be the norm and continental products will become more or less a rarity. That’s not to say I don’t think that continental products are inferior, but why buy them when what is being sold on your doorstep is so good?

8.     And what do we do better?

Our failing in having a tradition for cured meat is also our greatest asset. It means there are no rules to follow in regards to ‘authenticity’ which means we can really push the boundaries when it comes to developing new products.

9.     What could government, at any level, do (or not do) to make your working life easier?

A little PR push would go a long way!

10.  Finally, you’ve been told that for exceptional medical reasons you must turn vegan tomorrow – what’s on the menu for dinner tonight?

It would probably be some type of rather lavish game dish. I’ve been trying to cook a Hare Royale for several years now without quite nailing it, so it would probably be that so long as it wasn’t me cooking it! Followed by pistachio ice-cream…