When Annie Carter and her boyfriend Joff Bird decided to leave their jobs in London and follow their dreams by setting up a delicatessen in Salisbury they had no idea what lay ahead. Five years on the delicatessen has become a Salisbury stalwart and is immensely popular with locals and visitors alike. In addition, they do private catering, are about to open a farm shop and expecting their first child later this year.
Annie, whose enthusiasm for food is almost as infectious as her mega-watt smile, has always been passionate about cooking. She always dreamed about owning a delicatessen but the financial implications and risks involved were always a deterrent. She left her office job in 2005 and began working in a delicatessen on the Northcote road in London. It was while working here that she found the confidence to set up on her own. She and Joff decided to go into business together and had found their dream premises on Fish Row in Salisbury by the end of the year.
The majority of Bird & Carter's top-quality stock is sourced locally. Their charcuterie range includes their home-cooked Wiltshire ham, dressed in demerara sugar and mustard, and Laverstoke Park Farm's take on Italian and German Salami, from pigs reared in Hampshire. The butter is from Somerset, the beef from the butcher next door and the olives from from Olives Et Al in Sturminster Newton. They produce their own Bird & Carter range of chutneys as well as homemade cakes and quiches. They also have over 60 British cheeses in stock, from the local New Forest Blue, Old Sarum, Rachel goat's cheese and Godminster Vintage Cheddar, to the very latest cheeses such as the unpasteurised blue, Stichelton, from Nottingham and the Snowdonian Black Bomber.
- Why do you do what you do?
I have always wanted to do this. I love good food and nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing that experience with other people.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
That Bird & Carter is actually becoming a household name in Salisbury and after 5 years in a harsh financial climate we are still open and thriving.
- What is your most memorable moment?
We cater for weddings which are always special but when our own food was served by our own staff at our own wedding - that was a truly memorable experience.
- If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to encourage more people to eat British food?
Make a specific percentage of welfare benefit payments in food vouchers, redeemable for any British fruit, vegetable, fish, dairy or meat. Focus on schools that don't grow-their-own and encourage them to do so. Make cooking in schools compulsory all the way through. No-one should be able to leave school without being able to identify every British vegetable and understand basic cooking skills.
- What is your favourite food and why?
I have so many favourites... Perhaps slow cooked British mince and tomatoes that have been simmering for hours and hours until it is really thick and rich.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
I hope the public are realising that a green tomato may taste better than a bright red one, that supporting independent retailers is crucial to keep our high streets alive and that it's worth investing in decent, proper food, rather than Danish bacon or flesh from a chicken that has never seen the light of day. I hope to see the greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers coming back onto the high street and people starting to buy more regularly from these and rural farm shops.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
EAT AND COOK REAL BRITISH FOOD.
- Beat the Recession tip?
Use a chicken in 3 ways. Firstly, cut the breasts off and pan fry them; poach the rest of the chicken and pull the meat off for a second meal and finally make a stock with the carcass and turn into a soup for a third delicious meal. Soups are the way forward to use up ingredients in your fridge.
- What's on the menu this evening?
Homemade chicken cordon bleu salad and crusty bread.
- How can people get hold of your produce?
Bird & Carter is bang in the centre of Salisbury, and open 7 days a week. Come and visit our deli and café and peruse the shelves for some lovely some inspiring foodie treats. Then spoil yourself and have a lovely cup of coffee and a slice of cake in our popular upstairs café. Have a look at our website