The Independent Shopper: Nigel Barden

Nigel Barden, stalwart of the fine food scene and judge of the upcoming Q Guild Butchers Awards, tells us about the independent food and drink shops he couldn’t live without

In my role as chairman of judges for the Farm Shop & Deli Awards, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the UK’s great food and drink retailers. Keelham Farm Shop rates as one of the finest, based at the family’s original farm in Thornton near Bradford, and more recently a second outlet in Skipton. Siblings Victoria and James Robertshaw have done a truly magnificent job and there’s no need to visit a supermarket ever again if you have a Keelham on your doorstep.

Other brilliant retailers are Anthony and Sue Johns of the Johns of Instow and Appledore delis, which are located either side of the Taw and Torridge estuary on the north Devon coast. Ardross Farm Shop in Fife is another great example of how enterprising farmers have utilised the produce from their own land to form the bedrock of a successful shop. A smaller talented retailer is Fiona Kay of Cheese Please in Lewes.

Greengrocers need to be supported, and Rafters in Driffield and the tardis-like Andreas in Chelsea are both at the top of their game. Sadly, we don’t have enough fishmongers, but Ramus of Harrogate and Ilkley illustrate how, as an island race, it’s possible to have fabulous fish on the slab. Helpful, well-trained staff make it a pleasure shopping in these outlets and the bulk of produce is sourced locally whenever possible, resulting in far fewer food miles than a national retailer.

On my BBC Radio 2 cookery slot with Simon Mayo, I’ve been fortunate to showcase top-class produce from gifted retailers. We still have a number of excellent butchers in the UK, with Danny Lidgate doing a brilliant job taking over the reins from his rugby-playing father David at Lidgates in London’s Holland Park. David was a great second row for Wasps and a former Q Guild of Butchers President.

The man currently holding that title is David Lishman and his charcuterie cries out for a detour to his shop in Ilkley. At my local butchers, Eastwoods of Berkhamsted, David and Sarah Bunting offer a marvellous service. Arthur Howell in Norfolk’s Wells-next-the-Sea has his own abattoir at the back of his shop on the main street. Brace of Butchers in Poundbury, Meat NW5 in London and Cunningham’s in Northern Ireland represent the funkier new-style butchers. It’s easy to find a local butcher with traditional skills and great quality produce by looking for butchers in the Q Guild, and it’s great to see this championed at the Smithfield Awards.

Nigel Barden will host the Smithfield Awards. Run by the Q Guild of Butchers, the annual awards are widely regarded as one of the meat trade's most high profile and challenging product evaluation events. The awards have been running for 30 years and will take place on 7th February 2018 at a sumptuous luncheon at Stationer's Hall in London. The Q Guild is a seal of excellence marking Britain's best butchers. The Q Guild represents an elite group of the finest quality independent meat retailers across Britain and is synonymous with skills, craftsmanship and above all, quality. qguild.co.uk

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