A great taste of tradition
Ben Sargeant knew, even while at school, that his destiny was to work in and one day hopefully take over the butchery and bakery business established in 1980 by his father Roger.
Ben explained to me how his ambition was finally achieved in May 2014, when he and partner Sarah became owners and moved themselves and their two young daughters into the home which is part of their busy premises on High Street, Barrow upon Humber.
Driving up to the shop, I was struck by how bright and smart the cream and green frontage is looking. Ben explained: “That was one of our first investments. We wanted to open up the shop and make the most of the room we have. The windows had to be removed to bring in the new counters, and new shades and paint have really made a difference.
We have also invested in the parts of the premises that customers cannot see, including a new cold room and a revamp of the bakery.”
Some wonderful smells were already wafting from the bakery, where two of the three other staff members whom Ben and Sarah employ were busy baking. Vicky and Andrea were making Scotch eggs and Cornish pasties, while Naomi was serving customers at the counter.
“I wanted to get back to the job I love most which is butchery,” said Ben. “The new cold room is where I store the carcasses, so we could once again sell meat from the bone. It is locally sourced and traceable and customers like to have that confidence in the meat they buy.”
Sargeant’s recipe for Lincolnshire Sausages is over 100 years old but there has been plenty of innovation for modern tastes, with a ‘John Harrison’ caramalised red onion and ginger flavoured variety and a ‘Midby’ sausage containing pork, spring onion and garlic.
“We have returned to what a traditional local butcher does best,” said Sarah, “but are adding to our range all the time. We make a Boerewors sausage, to a South African recipe, and we will have a chorizo ready soon.
“Our home made steak pies and ready meals, such as beef stew and dumplings, are all made on the premises. In the summer months demand for barbecue packs with different sauces and glazes keeps us busy.”
As well as beef, pork and lamb there is chicken, rabbit, game birds, venison and guinea fowl in season.
I asked how far afield people travel to visit the shop? “From all around the local villages; Limber and Swallow,” said Ben, “and from as far as Scunthorpe. If people phone ahead I am happy to put together an order for them to collect. I currently supply outside caterers and a local pub, but we could expand this in the future.”
Sarah manages the outside catering part of the business, which can provide buffets for up to 100 people. “We bake our own cakes, stock Lincolnshire Poacher and Colston Bassett Stilton and have a good range of Patterson’s preserves, curds and chutneys. We buy our bread locally from Gray’s at Winterton, plus sauces by Mr Huda. Basically we have all the ingredients to supply not only your larder but also your special occasion.”
Before I left, I stood in the shop as customers were served and friendly conversations exchanged. Ben and Sarah kindly packed two sausage rolls and a sausage and mango plait for me to take away. I shared them when I got back to the office and the resounding cry was, ‘Where are these from? They are delicious!’ That catering service may have to extend a little further.