Way back in 2001 when James Rix was head chef of The Cow in London, he met master butcher James George of Select Butchery. Over afternoon pints between service James and James bonded over their interest in sourcing and cooking top quality meat with a strong provenance….. Their shared love of meat was celebrated in an Evening Standard feature ‘Bring on the Beef’ by Charles Campion.
James Rix –Chef
When we opened the Fox & Hounds fifteen years ago it was an easy decision to source most of our meat from James at Select – this long-standing relationship means we have consistently good meat at the pub.Our approach is to buy top quality meat we believe you can really taste the difference in flavour and texture. The Fox & Hounds has become known for the quality of meat we serve.
James and I have always enjoyed meeting up on a Monday to check out any new restaurants and enjoy a long lunch to discuss new ideas and options for the menu. It is great to have a long standing relationship built on respect and the love of a long lunch.
James’ favoutite cuts.
There has definitely been a change with customers looking for the provenance of their meat. They have a lot better understanding of what is good and what is not. Beef is as popular as ever but has to be good. We list the breeds of our steak on the menu. Lamb, pork and chicken all sell well but again people are looking for rare breeds and well reared meat. The lesser known steak cuts such as bavette/ onglet/ deckle which can sell for less money than the prime cuts always prove to be popular.
Offal is great value and dishes such as devilled lamb’s kidneys on toast and curried sweetbreads work really well as a starter. Calf’s liver and pork faggots used from all the offal and from the pork also sell well. Oxtails still fly out the door in the winter months.
Popular steaks include Chateaubriand and fillet, and our roast rib on a Sunday.
Roast rib of beef will always be a treat. I do think people prefer to pay up for a Porterhouse or Chateaubriand at the weekend, but mid-week will go for the cheaper option such as onglet or bavette.
James George – Select Butchery/ Turner & George
‘Always eager to try new cuts and explore different breeds, James is this butcher’s best friend and I could eat my lunch and dinner their daily, but I would need a new wardrobe…which would be a problem…so I don’t.’
James George’s love of the meat industry and the traditions of cutting started at the age of nine working alongside his Dad every school holiday in a beef, lamb and mutton stall at Smithfield’s Market and continued through to the point that whilst on a holiday break from a BA Hons in Advertising the meat bug finally got the better of him and he decided not to return and stay on in a salesman position which he had been offered.
On encountering many a bleary eyed chef, wandering the avenues of the market at unearthly hours in search of what their current suppliers couldn’t give them, James realised that there was a gap in the market between the jolly high street butcher and the huge catering companies operating long continuous production shifts with butchers who didn’t have a clue who they were preparing meat for.
This gap was filled by Select Butchery, whose aim was to cut bespoke for every order, every day, fresh. With this ethos proving popular, the company rapidly grew from there and James has been in the business of supplying meat successfully to the UK’s top restaurants for over 14 years now.
Turner & George
If that wasn’t enough, in that time he has also set up Turner & George, a proper old school butcher shop in Islington, that supports online sales. Created in partnership with Richard Turner, who just happens to the executive chef at Hawksmoor, Blacklock and Gridiron, the attitude towards delivering sustainable native and rare-breed meat to the public remains that same.
‘It’s all about the meat. You can dress it up how you want. But if the meat isn’t perfect, a chef will know. And to be honest, there are a lot of discerning people who know their stuff too and thankfully, attitudes towards sourcing ethically are changing.’