Meat the team at the heart of the high street

As part of a series of blog posts highlighting the incredible independent retailers we’re lucky to have in our hometown of Dorking, this week it’s all about the meat! Notallaboutskinny co-founder Kate is back with the skinny on the award-winning Dorking Butchery. Kate is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach and Dorking local. Kate has just returned from a year traveling around the world.

The fabulous, multi award winning Dorking Butchery takes pride of place in the centre of our High Street and it’s always a hive of activity. I’m pleased to report that there’s often a queue out of the door on Saturdays and it’s wonderful to have such an exciting, high quality food retailer as part of our vibrant local community.

The Dorking Butchery was founded in 2016 by two young butchers, Alex Emmett and Gary Core. It’s refreshing to see this level of energy and passion in such a young team and over the past two and a half years, they’ve worked tirelessly to build a small brigade of guys whose attention to detail and focus on excellent customer service is really quite something. Whilst still retaining that traditional butcher-shop feel, Alex and Gary have brought a cool, contemporary edge to the place with their slick branding.

Step into the gleaming, white-tiled shop and behind the counter, piled high with quality local produce, you’ll find them donned in white shirts, black aprons and flat caps, laughing and joking with the customers. I’ve always been impressed by the amount of time they spend talking to each customer.

“It’s important for us to understand what people really want”, says Alex, “sometimes the array of meat cuts can be quite intimidating and so we always spend time with our customers and give them advice about what might work best for the recipe they’re planning”.

There’s an impressive array of cookbooks too and the chaps are always happy to suggest something different for that special dinner occasion. They’ll even marinate cuts of meat to order and have been known to source a halal leg of lamb and rib of beef on request. Nothing is too much trouble.

So, it’s no great surprise that they have scooped awards for Outstanding Customer Service and Butcher of the Year for two years running at the prestigious Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards.

Co-founder Gary tells me, “It’s a real honour for us and the whole team. It means a lot to us that our customers voted and it’s great for the team too. They care about it just as much as we do. We all went to the awards and it was brilliant to be able to get up on stage and celebrate with the team. We are all about the team effort.”

In fact, they were in great company this year; Steven Drake’s recently opened fine-dining restaurant in South Street, Sorrel, bagged Restaurant of the Year and the wonderfully unique Saltbox (co-founder Christian is part of the butchery team) took home Newcomer of the Year.

Alex is no stranger to accolades having previously won Young Butcher of the Year in 2012. So, the pressure is on for Lewis, one of the youngest members of the crew, who has been nominated for the same award this year.

“Of course, I’m over the moon with it”, Lewis says, “But it just proves what can be achieved with great support and great training, which is what I’ve had here. It really validates what we are all about as a team.”

These are impressive achievements in such a short space of time but they are the most humble bunch you’ll ever meet. You can be assured of the provenance of the products here too. The butchers have built up close relationships with local farmers and pride themselves on only selling the highest grade produce possible. They also specialise in dry-aged beef; they’ll even help you select your own cut and breed and it will be aged on-site to your exact liking!

Along with ethically sourced meat and poultry, the team are acutely aware of the environmental concerns of excessive plastic packaging, preferring instead to use paper wrap where possible… and no self-respecting meat-eating Dorking resident would be seen without the ubiquitous Dorking Butchery hessian bag. It’s becoming a bit of a community symbol!

In the true business community spirit, the guys love to collaborate with and support local businesses (indeed, you’ll sometimes find them “team-building” in the nearby Queen’s Head after work…) and lately, they’ve been investing in some wider reaching projects such as a pop-up butchery demonstration at nearby Dolphin Inn at Betchworth and enticing their customers to visit other local retailers such as our independent beer and wine merchants at Cobbett’s and The Vineyard with special offers. Well, it would be a shame not to pick up a cracking bottle of something to go with your rib-eye steak, now, wouldn’t it?

Whilst there are no immediate plans to expand, it’s definitely something that Alex and Gary are considering in the future. The residents of Dorking need some decent charcuterie in their lives and I can’t think of a better place or better people to lead the way in being Dorking’s first local charcuterie producers. Their innovative and ultra-delicious cheese and marmite sausages were a huge hit when they featured as the “sausage of the week” … mind you, the duck and green chilli ones were pretty good too. So many choices! I might start campaigning for a range of Dorking salamis, each named after a famous resident of the town.

There’s a real focus on seasonality both in their current stock and in their recipe ideas on their website. If you pop in this month you’ll be able to pick up some fine beef from Belted Galloway cattle, reared right on our doorstep at Box Hill. The breed is selected because the cows mature slowly and there’s a real depth of flavor and texture that isn’t present in other breeds. It’s a great example of how they’re consistently searching for the best of the best for their customers.

The Dorking Butchery is the kind of place that you pop in to buy some sausages and leave with armfuls of produce you didn’t know you needed and a big smile on your face. The guys are a real credit to our town and we’re thrilled that they chose to bring their uber-cool vibe and fantastic meat and poultry products to Dorking. There’s a hundred reasons to visit our beautiful town and the Dorking Butchery is most definitely one of them. (PS. Don’t forget to grab a packet of home made pork scratchings on the way out … !)

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