Welcome to our brand new monthly feature where we’ll introduce you to some of our Macknade experts.
First up, it’s our Head Butcher, Simon Maynard….
Hi everyone! I’m Simon, and I head up the butchery team at Macknade Faversham. Our team are proud of the fact that we are a certified butcher of pasture-fed meat. We work with several farms that are certified by the Pasture Fed Livestock Association – an organisation who champion British farmers dedicated to only feeding their animals on a natural diet of grasses, wildflowers & herbs.
From Ski Slope To Kitchen
I haven’t always been a butcher, actually when I was growing up, skiing was my passion. I had a place in the England squad and my sights very firmly set on making the 1998 Olympic team. However, it was not meant to be and due to injury I had to rethink.
A position became available at Beefeater in Gravesend as a House Manager, and that’s where my journey to the kitchen really began. At the same time, a friend of mine was working at The Swan in West Malling and he gave me the opportunity to gain experience at their kitchen. It was wonderful – I learnt so much and cooking became my passion and new career!
Over the years, I worked my way up through the ranks in a variety of kitchens across Kent and London (I even worked at Parliament Square with Michel Roux) Then, with my second child on the way, I came back to Kent.
From Chef's Knives to Butcher's Block
Looking to regain a good work life balance, I continued to work in kitchens for a while including 26 and The Beacon in Tunbridge Wells, but I was looking for a new challenge and when an opportunity arose to join a butchery team in Sevenoaks, I knew this was the next step for me. Fast forward a little and when Macknade had an opening in their butchery section I applied. The rest, as they say, is history!
My Top Tips
- Always buy the best ingredients that you can afford.
- Let the ingredients speak for themselves, that’s not just true for meat, it applies to pasta, dairy products, veg, everything really.
- Always remember when you’re thinking about ingredients, the golden rule is; what grows together goes together – just look at basil and tomatoes. What a combo!
- Remember that seasonality is important and cooking with the seasons brings out the very best flavours.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to us. We love swapping tips with our customers and recommending the very best produce for their recipes. I learn so much from our customers and our suppliers too – it really is a community, so let’s talk.
- As it’s National BBQ Week, I recommend making your own marinades from fresh, natural ingredients. Try salsa verde on lamb kebabs and of course lemon and thyme on chicken.
What to look for when choosing cuts of meat
With beef, I always look for a darker colour to the meat because it’s had an ageing process – if it’s too red, it usually means that the meat is still quite young and the flavour won’t be developed. We dry age the beef that we sell here to really bring out the taste.
I also want to know about the provenance of meat. Where is it from? What was it fed? How was it brought up? I think we need to be more ethical when it comes to our consumption of meat, not just price driven.
I’m a big believer in nose to tail eating, which can be scary for some people. We all have bad memories of overcooked liver and onions – but trust me, it doesn’t need to be that way. My advice is to talk to your butcher and ask them for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to try lesser known cuts such as flat iron steak, or skirt.
Finally, My Go To Mid Week Meal Is.....
A katsu chicken curry burger. I love it and my kid’s love it! So simple to make, I take a good chicken (the Fosse chickens that we sell are herb fed and absolutely delicious.) I use the thighs, which I skin and debone. Then, it’s just a case of breading the thighs and air frying them, before serving them in a bun with lettuce and a dollop of katsu sauce.
I do often make my own buns for burgers, but I have to say I’m a huge fan of the huffkins we stock from Wingham Bakery and of course, our own Panuozzo.
You can see quite a lot of the dishes that I cook on our Macknade Cooking Club Facebook page – it’s a friendly group where we share tips and recipes. Come on over and check it out!