autumn yard meat | hugo jeffreys
Words by Fiona Symington-Mitchell. Photos courtesy of Autumn Yard Meat.
MUSICIAN, sound engineer, chef, baker and now charcutier, Hugo Jeffreys of Autumn Yard Meat has done it all. He talks to us about British curing, Keith Floyd, and where to find the best Szechuan food in London.
Hugo Jeffreys is a man passionate about British meat. “I’m often greeted with the comment that Italian or Spanish salami is cheaper and just as good as what we produce here but I can’t agree. Here, we are getting really good meat that isn’t industrially processed as it is elsewhere in Europe.”
A self-trained charcutier, Hugo made his first salami in January 2013. “I started with a very elementary set-up in the form of a fridge in the basement of my then house share, and just fermented things for several weeks.” Of this first salami, “the flavour was so good and so much better than anything that I had tried before and a lot of that was down to the meat. It just seemed a very natural thing to start Blackhand. It was obvious that I should be selling it to people, and showing what we can do in this country.”
Having found his niche, Hugo left his full-time career as a chef, and started working as a part-time baker at E5 Bakery and dedicating himself to developing Black Hand Food. As he admits, he made lots of expensive mistakes. However, with a career in cooking behind him, he was no novice. “As a chef you are cooking sixteen hours a day, five days a week and eating, as you need to eat to understand your produce. There was a lot of training prior to me starting to cure and ferment.”
Today from his workshop in Autumn Yard Hackney Wick he makes a range of what he calls traditional salamis. “Simplicity is the key to food and so I try and keep my flavours to the bare minimum. The point being to really showcase the meat and not obscure it,” he says.
Using rare and heritage breeds, his products range from nduja (a spreadable salami ideal for adding to pasta, stews and pizza) to the pate-like braun made from the muscles of the head (cheek, tongue, and ears) that is hung to dry for a month before being cooked for several hours. He’s recently added a black treacle and coriander smoked bacon to his line-up and plans to rebrand to Autumn Yard Meat.
While most of his business is wholesale, Hugo regularly attends Alexandra Palace Farmers Market and his meats are also sold at de Beauvoir Deli and E5 Bakehouse. He plans to sell online this year.
You can also catch Hugo at the Cannon & Cannon Meat School where he regularly teaches.
on british charcuterie
The number of charcutiers in the UK has increased from 20 to around 80 in the last two years. So the industry is clearly growing but it would be nice to have some more promotion about our charcuterie and how good it really is.
I always have a loaf of E5 Bakehouse bread on the go. Wildes Cheese: we are both at the same market at Ally Pally. Sara of Nyborg's Kitchen does a fantastic rye bread - the best that I have ever tasted and a banana chocolate bread that I can’t stop buying because it is so good. And finally, Nick of Vadasz Deli because he is a pickle bad-arse.
uk food hero
Keith Floyd: I remember watching him in my early twenties and thinking this is the guy who really knows how to live. You watch him now and it’s clear he wasn’t a great cook but I though that’s the kind of guy that I want to be.
london food secret
Gourmet San: it’s a Chinese Szechuan restaurant on Bethan Green Road. Order something wacky and what you’ll get something that will be out of this world. It’s a leap of faith but it is worth it. Lyle's restaurant in Shoreditch is very good as is Taberna do Mercado for Portuguese tapas in Smithfield.
for your address book
Alexandra Palace Farmers Market, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY
Cannon & Cannon Meat School, Unit 4W, Jubilee Place, Winchester Walk, SE1 9AG
de Beauvoir Deli, 98 Southgate Rd, N1 3JD
E5 Bakehouse, Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, E8 3PH
Gourmet San, 261 Bethnal Green Road , E2 6AH
Lyle's, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Nyborg's Kitchen, t.@NyborgsKitchen
Taberna do Mercado, Old Spitalfields Market, 107b Commercial Street, E1 6BG
Vadasz Deli, t. @VadaszDeli
Wildes Cheese, t. @wildescheese
Fiona Symington-Mitchell is an Australian freelance writer living in London. She has published with Modern Farmer, Remedy Quarterly, Countlan magazine, Food& and de Groot Media Australia across its food guide publications.