Meat-lovers congregated this weekend, 19-20 September, as London’s Tobacco Dock hosted the UK’s third Meatopia festival.
The event is designed to provide a platform for ethically sourced meat, all cooked over wood and charcoal, to gain recognition.
Chefs and enthusiasts from around the world showed off what they had to offer over the meat-filled weekend.
Visitors were spoilt with choice as lamb ribs, pulled pork and duck wings were all among the dishes on offer.
“We’re trying to bring back butchers and getting people interested in asking about their meat and not just taking pieces of meat off the shelf they don’t know anything about,” explained Richard Turner of Turner & George, who is also the director of the event.
As well as eating, visitors to Meatopia were able to gain an understanding into where the meat comes from and how it’s cooked – something that cannot necessarily be replicated in the big retailers.
“For the last 30 years supermarkets have grown quite extensively, and supermarket meat isn’t very good,” added Turner. “We need to go back to shopping in butchers and find out where our meat comes from, find out the breed and start shopping ethically and sustainably.”
In addition to being one of the official meat partners, Turner & George also offered pre-booked butchery classes. This allowed participants to garner a better appreciation to meat cuts and the sourcing of products.
Jessica Wragg, marketing manager at Turner & George, said that customers were becoming more conscious when buying meat.
“Everything we do – apart from Galician beef and USDA prime beef – is from Britain. We know where it comes from; it comes from really small farms, which we’ve been to. We know how amazingly the animals are looked after and we know they are happy, which is also going to make the meat taste better. I think that message can get a bit diluted, especially in the London butchers’ scene. So it’s important to get the message out there.”
Wragg believes that traceability is key and that butchers must communicate this with their customers in order to obtain success.
“A lot of butchery traders are going back to the high street,” she added. “People are really starting to care where their meat comes from and what the ageing process is behind it. They are really trying to educate themselves. It’s part of the understanding of needing to know what you put into your body.”
Kenneth Kerr, who worked in the production kitchen over the weekend, said it was a great chance for people to try something different. “Everyone has really enjoyed themselves. I’m glad to see family coming out just for a little taste of cuisine from the whole world so they can get their taste buds moving.”
Promotional events like this offer a chance for the British public to truly appreciate independently produced meat, and Wragg remains optimistic about the future. “If Meatopia proves anything, it’s that the meat industry is experiencing a huge boom right now, so that’s really great.”