The BIG idea
PUBLISHED: 05:46 12 January 2015
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014
The past two years have seen some great successes for Jackie Kennedy, owner of the award-winning Marsh Pig Charcuterie at Claxton Corner.
Please tell us a little about the history of Marsh Pig Charcuterie.
I started Marsh Pig a little over two years ago with the basic premise that if you start with an excellent product (British free range pork) you would end up with an excellent product. In Europe they use crated pigs who have had pretty unhappy lives and lots of added fat, 30-60pc. I only ever use British free range pork and rare breed British beef from East Anglia and only add 15pc fat to my salami. That means I get to support British farming and provide a superior product that is lower in fat and a much meatier product than people are used to.
What are the major achievements of the business so far – your impressive list of stockists, your range of products?
I was lucky enough to be awarded a gold star in our first year of trading from The Guild of Fine Food (the Oscars for artisan producers) and then again in our second year. I was on BBC TV this year with chef James Martin and was fortunate enough to be stocked by Selfridges in London, Birmingham and Manchester. I have also just been awarded a bursary by the BBC Good Food Show, June 11-14, 2015, in Birmingham, but my biggest achievement is by being stocked consistently locally by some of our region’s amazing farm shops, delis and restaurants. I have 10 products including salami, chorizo, lomo, bresaola and coppa, and seasonally I make venison and vintage port salami.
What particular challenges have you faced in developing this and have you found a good deal of support from people and businesses in Norfolk?
No one was willing to teach me how to make charcuterie, so I had to teach myself with lots of experimenting along the way. The other challenge has been getting the public to understand that there is a different price point for fantastically reared pork with less than half the amount of fat in – what they are buying in the supermarket is not the same. I have been lucky though, once they have tried the product they don’t need any convincing! I have had a tremendous amount of support from neighbours and friends; I am really lucky that one of my neighbours is an amazing graphic designer and produced all our labels. The fabulous people of Norfolk have never been anything other than supportive from the very beginning, from shop owners to other artisan producers, I really couldn’t – and more importantly wouldn’t want to – do it without all their support.
You are championing the art of charcuterie with a series of curing and smoking courses through the coming months. Can you tell us about these please?
When I started this business, the advice in books and on the internet was highly contradictory, so I felt that I would not be alone in feeling dazed and confused. I want to make British charcuterie more accessible to people, so I decided to start running courses. The course will guide people through making their own bacon, pancetta, coppa, biltong, jerky, salami, fresh sausages and how to build a cold smoker.
So, Jackie, what is Marsh Pig’s Big Idea for developing the reputation of charcuterie in Norfolk, and indeed the UK?
As far as developing Marsh Pigs’ reputation, it’s a question of continuing to get the word out there. I do two regular farmers’ markets, Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of every month and The Norfolk Diet at the Forum on the second Saturday of each month, plus lots of two-day events around the county. What I am clear about is that I do not want to lose the integrity of the product. It would be easy to add more fat and not use such fantastic pork, but then I don’t see the point in producing an inferior product.
Marsh Pig Charcuterie, Marsh Barn, Claxton Corner, Norwich, NR14 7HU; 01508 480560; firstname.lastname@example.org