Producer of the Month: Bel Forbes, Butcher, Edzell, Angus
There was a time when Annabel – Bel – Forbes began her day at 4.00am to make pies, pasties and black and white puddings ready to sell in her butcher's shop later that day. Thankfully, due to the ongoing success of her business she now has an amazing team of staff that does that. So, her day now commences at 6.00am with setting up the shop and taking orders, before doing the school-run and opening up.
Since Bel opened her traditional butcher's shop in 2007, after previously running a catering business, she has maintained its status as the supplier of the best meat in the area. Bel's Butchers has become the main attraction of the village of Edzell and people travel from miles around to buy her produce. As well as her pies and sausages Bel sells fresh free-range poultry from local farmers, local game in season, privately bought local beef, which is fully matured, and pork from local pigs.
- Why do you do what you do?
Because I am interested in food and have always wanted to have my own shop/business, which is food-related. I couldn't have predicted that I would end up as the proprietor of a butchers shop but it is exciting and a huge challenge which I thrive on. Quality is paramount to the success of Bel's Butchers and this is what sets us apart.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Developing a successful business of which I had no prior knowledge, and to be here, four years on in a very difficult economic climate with a business with a good reputation that continues to grow. Hats off to my amazing team.
- What is my most memorable moment?
Winning the Diamond Award in May this year for our Mediterranean Lamb Steaks voted best lamb product in Scotland 2011.
- If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to encourage more people to eat British food?
Target the education system – we need to get the next generation cooking and learning about where our food comes from. Make Home Economics a compulsory subject and within the curriculum teach the importance of using British produce and buying from independent retailers. We need to change the mind-set of the majority and teach people that by buying the best quality local ingredients and cooking from scratch we are saving money, as well as feeding ourselves more nutritiously and supporting local businesses and high welfare standards. This is a grass-roots thing so we need to start from the beginning.
- What is your favourite food and why?
An impossible question to answer. It's all to do with the time and place…roast leg of British lamb for family Sunday lunch, a well-hung rib-eye steak with a good bottle of red on a Saturday night, freshly caught mackerel cooked over an open fire on the beach, a thin slice of old rump steak barely barbecued and shoved in a bun for a fishing lunch, an enormous bowl of langoustine with hollandaise shared with friends on holiday….I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the idea.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
I really don't know but I would like to think that we have a strong future ahead of us as independent retailers and producers. I do believe that British food does have the stamp of quality and that there will always be a market for quality so hopefully this will keep the British food industry thriving.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
Has your food travelled more than you? Buy British.
- Best budget tip?
Cook from scratch. Make extra that will do for lunch the next day or can be reheated for supper. Think and plan ahead and go shopping with a list, and never when you’re hungry…
- What's on the menu this evening?
My lamb sausages with roasted vegetables – quick, easy and budget-friendly.
- How can people get hold of your produce?
Come to my shop! Bel's Butchers, 25A High Street, Edzell DD9 7TE 01356 648 409. I am in the process of setting up my website – www.belsbutchers.co.uk. In the future I would like to start up internet/mail order sales but in the mean time take a trip to Edzell.