The Art of Butchery with Simon Rickwood, The Butcher’s Block
Meet the Butcher: Simon Rickwood, Owner, The Butcher’s Block
How did your passion for butchery start and how long have you been in the business?
Rickwoods at Bearsted was my dad’s business, so it was inevitable that I would end up a butcher; my grandad was a butcher, my dad was a butcher, so it was all I really knew growing up. As time passed, my passion grew and I was there for a total of 32 years. My dad sold the business to Crouches, who I still keep in touch with and visit regularly – the butchery industry is very supportive of one another.
Could you tell us a little bit about The Butcher’s Block and what drove you to open your own restaurant?
I got to the point where I needed a bit of a challenge – I couldn’t see what the next step was. One year, my wife Joanna took me away for my birthday, and we visited this quaint little pub in the middle of nowhere. As the night went on this place just got busier and busier, and Joanna looked at me and said: “Do you think we could do something like this?” That question sparked the conversation for the rest of the weekend, and we haven’t looked back since.
The Butcher’s Block seems the obvious name for your restaurant, but can you tell us a little bit about what you wanted to achieve? Was it about educating people about meat and where it comes from?
The concept was definitely about showcasing great meat, but I don’t think at the time we realised just how much people wanted good steak – we aren’t a steakhouse and we do offer an à la carte menu but we have built up a great reputation for our meat which we are really proud of. It’s very much farm to table here; I’m quite particular about meat – a lot is locally sourced and it’s always the finest cuts. I think it’s very important for people to know where their meat and ingredients come from.
How does your knowledge of butchery influence your menu choices?
I love to cook, but I’m a butcher at the end of the day, so that’s where my talented team of chefs come in and I have learned so much from them. I will prep the meat which is great for them to see and then they can play around with ingredients and flavours to create the dishes. The menu is seasonal, so we will often all sit down together and discuss dishes, ideas etc. It’s about team work here.
Ok, so we have to ask it, what’s your favourite cut of meat? And dish?
Ribeye, rib of beef – you can’t beat it for the flavour, all the naughty fatty bits are just… But if we’re talking about a dish, steak is steak, so I would probably go with lamb – it’s diverse and really tasty.