My name is Simon Taylor. I am 42 years old and have worked in traditional butcher shops since I was 13. I am very lucky to have found myself in a beautiful, traditional butchers shop that has served this village and its surrounding area since the early 1900’s. I say lucky, I also like to think there was some hard work and fate involved.
I was very much trained in the traditional way. Butchery is a trade like any other that requires skill and knowledge of your profession. The big thing that sets us apart from other trades is that it has been on the decline decade upon decade. In the 1960’s there were around 60,000 butcher shops. Now there are as few as 6,500. I can’t simply advertise for staff to fill a position as they don’t exist. The only way to hire is to train people from scratch (if you want a traditional butcher that is). I am lucky with my shop; we have customers that still appreciate the skill in our butchery. There is a reason our numbers are down and it’s not just convenience.
Not all people see what we do as art, this county has become disconnected from what is only natural. People see meat as a pre-packed, ready to use ingredients that can just be picked up at any given time. No respect or care is given to what happens to the rest of the animal or the skill taken to get it to that stage. We have very much been compared to artists and surgeons. It is in our interests to be clean and precise, using swift strokes, like working with a brush. People who understand that meat is a way of life take interest in watching us work and there has been a new trend in butchery workshops taking off. This is where the public can get real hands-on experience and can learn some of the basic skills we use every day.
I hope to be butchering for many more years and in that time I aim to train as many people as possible in the traditional ways.
Viva La Butcher.